Vizag Features

October 2004
30th October, 2004

The last few days have seen press releases, ads and banners for 'Halloween' celebrations in Vizag. Huh? Say that again. Are we in Vizag or has someone transposed us to the USA? 

Now don't get us wrong. We are not cultural imperialists and are not against a few youngsters having fun. What we are against is the attitude that any thing American is good and must be blindly followed. Not withstanding its pagan origins, for those not in the know of things, Halloween in the USA itself has been under attack of late for various reasons including child abuse. Another grouse that we have is that these 'alien concepts' are usually introduced by so called Five Star hotels and the Page Three brigade. 

With increased globalisation and mobility, there is bound to be some amount of inter-cultural exchange; but when this is done while looking on the local customs and traditions with disdain, it is time for the 'culture police' at to make their views known. First learn the story of Vikram & Betaal is what we say, first learn to appreciate 'Puli Vesham' is what we say.

Anyway, Happy Halloween if you know what we mean!

27th October, 2004

The sudden declaration of the 200 year old Regimental Cemetery situated near Jagadamba Junction as a 'Heritage Site' by Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (VMC) has raised quite a few eyebrows in the city.

There are reasons to look at this move with suspicion: 1)The 400 year old 'Dutch Cemetery' in the old town itself is not a Heritage Site and lies in a sorry state. 
(2) The cemetery in now in the heart of the city - prime commercial land which will make a few people very rich if any sort of 'development' work ever takes place there.

Confirming these sentiments, President of the Vizag Christian Cemetery Board, Robert Jayaraj Kalangi said: "If the intention behind declaring the Regimental Cemetery as heritage site in its true sense is genuine, it will be definitely welcomed but there was no mention of the 16th century Dutch Cemetery which needs immediate attention and is being reduced to a state of rubble".

Mr Kalangi also objects to the replacing their board with a board stating that the site belonged to the Government of Andhra Pradesh. He says that this is wrong - the ownership of a site does not change even after it is declared a Heritage Site.

On the face of it, there is not a lot to object to. Recently, the Municipal Corporation removed illegal settlements and the hoardings that encroached into the cemetery. These are laudable moves if the intentions are honourable.

The arbitrariness and lack of any consultation or discussion also rankles. One can't help but wonder if the peace-loving nature of the Christian community is being taken advantage of. Had the land belonged to a more militant community, would they have dared taking such a step?

Regimental Cemetery entrance
Entrance of the Regimental Cemetery at Jagadamba Junction
VMC Heritage Site board
The VMC board stating ownership of the Regimental Cemetery, declaring the same as 'Heritage Site'

This isn't the first time that they have threatened to disturb the dead. "Some years ago the Municipal Corporation tried converting the cemetery into a parking lot but the normally docile and highly fragmented Christian community of Vizag closed ranks, standing firm and not succumbing to any kind of pressure or intimidation and effectively thwarted this 'hostile takeover' ", says Mr Kalangi.

The Vizag Christian Cemetery Board is contemplating its next move on this issue which might involve moving the courts. Will they be successful this time? At least for the sake of preserving the dignity of the dead, we hope so.

Dutch Cemetery Dutch Cemetery
An old grave at the Dutch cemetery The Dutch cemetery stands grossly neglected amidst bushes, trees and overgrown grass
NOTE: The 400 year old Dutch Cemetery in the old town area is much older than the 200 year old Regimental Cemetery. The Dutch Cemetery is in shambles and needs immediate looking up. Surprisingly, this much needed move of declaring the Dutch Cemetery as a 'Heritage Site' has not been taken up by the VMC as yet.

Do you feel strongly about this? Please post your opinions on our Bulletin Board or send your comments to:

Dasara Mamool Time 22nd October, 2004

Dasara Mamool

Knock! Knock! 
Who's there?
Dasara who?
Dasara Mamool! 

If there is one thing to spoil the festive mood it is 'Dasara Mamool'. Many of us grimace when we hear the doorbell ring these days - it is likely to be someone to collect his Dasara pound of flesh.

'Mamool' is supposedly a gift to working class people, especially in the service sector, such as domestic workers, sanitation workers, postmen, telephone/electricity linesmen. Over the years this graduated to money obtained forcibly through gentle/not so gentle threats to disrupt services. Accordingly, those with the potential for the most damage get paid the most. Telephone (read BSNL) linesmen and Electricity get the most and street sweepers get the least - how much dirtier can the roads get? Many of them try to give an official feel to this by entering your name in a register and getting you to sign in it!

Privatisation of utilities has blunted the teeth of some of these people. One smart young girl in our office, when reminded by the linesmen of the erstwhile monopoly of BSNL that it would be 'her money or her telephone', promptly had her telephone disconnected.

An unhealthy trend we noticed this year was the employees of some Public Sector Banks doing the rounds of their customers' offices.

All this is not surprising - the sums involved are enormous. Back of the envelope calculations show that the 'Dasara Mamool' economy in Vizag itself could be several crores of Rupees (Income Tax Dept. are you listening?). A postman collecting an average of Rs. 100/- per apartment in a building with 40 apartments collects Rs. 4000 in one building itself. Multiply that by a minimum of 20 buildings in his beat and you will see why it certainly is a Happy Dasara for some people in Vizag. 

'EARTH Day' celebrated in VSP:

In observance of this year as the 'Year of Scientific Awareness - 2004', an ecological awareness programme for health and hygiene was conducted at Ukkunagaram on 6th of October, 2004, by the Public Health Engineering Division of Town Administration Department at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Sri G. Brahmaih, DGM (TA&CC) I/c, opened and introduced the third phase of the 'EARTH (Ecological Awareness among Residents of Township for Health and Hygiene) Day' programme. The 'EARTH Day' programme was first initiated by former CMD of VSP, Sri B. K. Panda, in July 2004.

'EARTH Day' sessions included discussions on topics such as environment, bio-diversity, disaster management (first-aid), road safety, animal welfare, solid waste management and hygiene. A need to modify human activities to protect the environment at large and prevention of cruelty towards animals was being emphasized in view of the ongoing 'Animal Welfare Week', by the visiting team of members from the Blue Cross Society and Visakha Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals at Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.