Using art to get your municipality working..

Bangalore’s woes over garbage, traffic, water etc continue and get both amusing & frustrating.  Its recent school crisis is making most parents turning really nervous and super angry. ToI conducted a survey recently and exposed the reality of the so called garden and IT city.  The city lacks basics on most counts.

Anyways. some people remain positive and have hope (and inspire as well). Even better, they use their creativity to get the Bangalore municipality working.

Badal Nanjundaswamy is one such person. He uses his artistic skills to great effect to embarrass the municipality and get the work done. He colors the open manholes in this creative way:

On Diwali night, as crackers sizzled and smoked around, this artist went to Queen’s Circle, armed with paint and brush. He carefully painted an atom bomb on the road where a messy divider made it a surefire accident spot. The very next day, the divider was in place. Such was the impact of Badal Nanjundaswamy’s art.

For him, an accident spot looks like an atom bomb wait ing to explode, an open manhole a rakshasa (demon) ready to gobble up passersby .Badal is an artist who’s taken on the job of fixing civic problems which thousands suffer in silence. “Art need not have a message. But it can have a social cause when the situation demands. It’s not a protest, but aims at fixing the problem,” says Badal, who is shy to talk about his work.

Badal, 34, a native of Mysuru, has done similar things in his hometown too. In 2013, during Dasara, there was a huge pothole in front of the palace. “I painted it as a pond and gave it a tagline, `Banni, Eeji’ (Come, Swim). The very next morning it was filled up by the city corporation. But should the government wait for someone to draw or paint to get to work?” asks Badal.

On June 5, to observe World Environment Day , Badal drew a devil’s face, its mouth an open manhole, on Sultanpalya Road, North Bengaluru. The next day, BBMP rammed a lid down on the death trap. “Residents of the area had complained to BBMP, but the Palike didn’t bother to take action. That’s sad. They acted on it only after I painted it. What are elected representatives doing if they can’t fix basic facilities like roads and water supply?” asks an angry Badal.

A similar rakshasa came up on Richmond Road flyover where he once almost had an accident due to the sad state of the divider.

“It would have killed a motorist. I drew a rakshasa there and it was taken care of the next day,” says Badal, a gold medallist from Chamarajendra Academy of Visual Arts, Mysuru. He works on the streets at night when traffic is thin. Immersed in his art, he hardly responds if a surprised passerby asks any questions.


Of course there is a limit to how much he can do. India’s urban mess is so glaring particularly in cities like Bangalore resembling a patient in ICU. Just that patient still has doctors (hopefully) to attend to, in case of India’s cities there is nothing like this. Just fancy talk of building smart cities whereas cities with population as big as 1 cr continuing to miss even basics.

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