Updated: Oct 11, 2014…. Two years since
Suvarna Soudha, the second secretariat building in Karnataka, was inaugurated by President Pranab Mukherjee in Belgaum on October 11, 2012.
by Sameer Majli
Controversy, awe, protest, celebration, disgust & contentment; strange admixture of feelings associated with a creation of cement and steel that stands tall atop a hill just on the outskirts of the city. Never before has a single building drawn as much attention as this apparent “Golden Goose” that has arrived in town. Aptly named “Suvarna Soudha”, what it actually means to contrasting sections of society is a matter of much talk.
From a socialistic perspective, it sounds like wastage of a large sum of money that could have fed maybe thousands in and around town. From a capitalistic viewpoint, it symbolizes progress, accomplishment and draws the much needed attention for being one-of- its- kind in terms of adding grandeur to the city long impoverished in terms of architectural marvels. The landmark is a treat to the eye for tourists and those that support its existence and symbolism but a speck in the eye for those that choose to see it otherwise.
As a Belgaumite, what is and should be important is what it has brought to Belgaum and to check if the pros outweigh the cons and that too from a neutral perspective. We are a zone that’s been a tale of the washer man’s dog as the popular saying goes, neither here nor there and hence nowhere.
To put things into perspective, it’s best to consider what’s happening to the city of Belgaum in the recent days. We have always been a town that languished in the aftermath of considerable apathy since we had to tag of “No one’s child”. Development of the minimalistic sorts eluded our grasp and the city was notorious for power cuts, water problems and the reign of potholes. Labour was cheap but work was scarce. The climate was wonderful but we always envied other cities that just seemed to have so much of what symbolizes modern progress. The top brands stayed out of town since the locals were frugal in spending. The pride of and for the town stayed within the domains of the city defines. The frogs were busy being happy, appreciative and kings of their of their own small wells.
Our internal petty quarrels over which alphabet has a better sound, scope and merit were enough to keep us occupied within and shut out from the rest of the world. Its sceptical to comment on whether we have outgrown this mentality but a change surely seems to be on its way. If the change in landscape and infrastructure can be an indicator, then yes, we are on our way forward.
The construction of the “Suvarna Soudha” is an issue that’s broadly and quite generously debated and each side may hold their own lines of thought within their own right. What is the more important issue however, is what change has set in and what it does mean to the citizens at large.
The State Assembly event which seems to happen about twice a year in this part of Karnataka has assumed importance in terms of making Belgaum a “Happening” sort of a place in terms of the attention drawn to the city and the hustle bustle of the politicians and their teams. The accommodative venues in town see an unprecedented rush and the hurry and scurry on the streets is something that’s so new to this part of the country. Belgaum makes its presence in the headlines of the local media and the side-lines on the national news networks and this, just maybe, is a refreshing change for the eyes to behold.
The infrastructure of the city has undergone a drastic transformation. With the designation as “Second Capital”, this was bound to happen and one can only guess that this is the prime reason while to a to-the-core Belgaumite, this “Suvarna Soudha” is the golden goose that brought prosperity to town.
In bad old days, the roads transformed into pathways and stayed so for what seemed like ages. Subconsciously we memorised these landmark potholes on our Martian landscape and would glide through these with the ease of a ballerina. We mastered the skills of agility and grace amidst this age old disgrace and this was about how we lived. This was “Belgaum” the city that we so loved.
Since the birth of the Suvarna Soudha, the roads in town are re-laid or at least patched up about twice a year since we have a hoard of dignitaries visiting. The beautification of the city landscape is a task that has finally found due attention and in a sense we can see something happening. A large number of people have found employment with the newly generated tasks. The police force is more vigilant and seems to be doing a duty, quite unlike what we remember our childhood for. Top brands and outlets are slowly making their way in to town. The water supply is better with new projects being undertaken to ensure 24 hour water supply and the power situations is getting more and more “Power Full”.
Soon industry will arrive and maybe jobs and eventually the much needed prosperity at individual and societal levels would see better days. Parents would be happier since their children would not have to move to alternative pastures for a kiss of the green.
Citizens from this part of the country have found a platform to give voice to their inconveniences and problems since the decision makers are in town about twice a year. It’s a major thing that had been missing for all these years. Rushing to Bangalore for every small thing was never feasible and hence nothing seems to be happening.
Overall, life just seems to have assumed the status of being “eventful” and the Golden Goose has commenced laying the eggs that may well signal better times ahead. After all, there are inadvertent benefits of being in the limelight.
The pros would have their cons in terms of life becoming too hectic, traffic more congested, the skyrocketing prices of real estate and the calm of the city making way for some cacophony but we cannot afford to be untouched by the traits that characterize the modernity of life either.
What the Suvarna Soudha symbolizes may be a matter of disagreement and debate but there is no denying that it’s brought change. Welcome, unwelcome, for better or worse, is best left as a tale for time to tell.