Monday, December 12, 2016

Road Naming Policy of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations

Pasted below are two extracts from The Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act, 1976. This basically explains the policy of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations for naming public streets. 

Section 293 of THE KARNATAKA MUNICIPAL CORPORATIONS ACT, 1976 is reproduced below:

293. Naming or numbering of public streets.
(1) The corporation shall give names or numbers to new public streets and may, subject to the
approval of the Government, alter the name or number of any public street.

(2) The Commissioner shall cause to be put up or painted on a
conspicuous part of some building, wall, or place, at or near each end,
corner or entrance of every public street, the name or number by which it is
to be known.

(3) No person shall without lawful authority destroy, pull down or deface
any such name or number or put up any name or number different from that
put up by order of the Commissioner.

is reproduced below:

58. Obligatory functions of the corporations.- It shall be incumbent on the corporation to make reasonable and adequate provision by any means or measures which it is lawfully competent to use or to take, for each of the following matters, namely:-
(7) the naming or numbering of streets and of public places vesting in the corporation and the numbering of premises;

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Story of Tata Silk Farm: The Steelman who Made Silk

As my school Principal Ms. Deepa Sridhar became familiar with City Idols, she shared this very interesting story about Tata Silk Farm, a well known neighbourhood in South Bangalore.  

She discovered this story written by RM Lala, on

Thank you, Deepa ma'am, for all your encouragement and for becoming a contributor on City Idols!
So here is the story:


JAMSETJI took his experiment to grow silk seriously. In France he studied the silk industry, particularly the growing of the silkworm, which was a cottage industry. In 1893, on a visit to Japan he found the Japanese skilled at sericulture. He invited two Japanese experts, a husband and wife, to India. His cousin R. D. Tata's Japanese servant who had picked up English became their translator. Jamsetji sought out a suitable site with a fairly temperate climate and selected Bangalore where he had observed mulberry trees.

With his contact with the State of Mysore he obtained a site. He found out that Mysore had a silk industry at the time of Tippu Sultan which had fallen into disuse, still existed in some villages but their methods were primitive. He directed the Japanese experts to Bangalore.

It appears that Jamsetji had little interest to go into the silk business. Jamsetji was able to get a suitable site. "He endowed a small farm where Indians could study how the mulberry tree grew, how the silk-worm was to be reared, how the diseases that affected it could be treated, how the cocoon should be looked after, how the silk should be reeled, and how it was prepared for the market. The farm was run on Japanese lines. Indian children were trained to resuscitate the ancient industry of their ancestors. Apprentices were engaged for a minimum period of three months, during which they were given free instructions in all aspects of the industry, from the growth of the mulberry tree to the marketing of the final product. Jamsteji's experiment in silk farming proved a success from the start." (Saklatvala and Khosla: Jamsetji Tata, p.54)

While in Bangalore in 1980s this writer was intrigued by a signboard near the Institute of Culture which read, `Tata Silk Farm Crossroads'. He searched for the background. Finally the Mysore State Archives was found to harbour a document that reveals what the farm was all about and what happened to it.

Jamsetji got the help of the Salvation Army. In a booklet by F. Booth Tucker: Experiments by The Salvation Army with French, Italian, Mysore and Erie Silkworms in India and Ceylon 1910-1911 (Published by The salvation Army Headquarters, The Mall, Simla (Price 2 annas), 1912) says: "A few particulars regarding some of our Indian experiments in sericulture may perhaps be of practical interest.

"The Tata Silk Farm in Bangalore. This Institution was established some eight years ago (1902-1903) by late Mr. Jamsetji N. Tata. He felt satisfied that what the silk industry required in India was to introduce the same business principles as had been pursued with such success in Japan.

"A Japanese expert and assistant were brought over. The Mysore Government gave a rent-free grant of land and an annual subsidy of Rs 3,000. A small filature of 10 basins were erected, and a garden was planted with various varieties of mulberry bush."

It is perhaps a little singular that two such able businessmen as Mr. Tata and Sir Thomas Wardle should have gone, one to Japan and the other to France, in search of their models for India. Mr. Tata, who was familiar with both countries, gave preference to Japan.

"In choosing Mysore as a centre for what he hoped would ultimately develop into a Silk School for India, he was guided by the fact, that the climatic conditions were favourable and that there was a healthy indigenous worm producing an excellent quality of silk.

"In this again he gave the preference to the Polyvoltine Mysore worm over both the Japanese and French varieties, though he hoped by interbreeding with the latter that the best features of both races might be combined.
"In January 1910, we were requested by his son, Sir Dorabji Tata, to take over the Bangalore Silk Farm, the Mysore Government consenting to the arrangement and continuing the subsidy for a period of three years.
"Ensign and Mrs. Graham were placed by us in charge of the Institution, and have proved to be capable and energetic managers. Already seven of our European Officers have just been trained and Indian students and ryots have been received and trained from Mysore, Travancore, Madras and Bombay Presidencies, etc. Supplies of eggs and mulberry cuttings have been distributed not only in Mysore but in the United Provinces, Punjab, Baroda, Gwalior, etc. Villagers and students have been trained in the Japanese system of reeling and re-reeling silk.

A cheap and convenient reeling machine has been manufactured for cottage use. The acreage of mulberry has been considerably increased, several new buildings have been erected, and a number of basins doubled in the filature. Visitors from different parts of India have called, and advice has been sought by numerous correspondents.

"Already the Tata Silk Farm has given birth to three other Institutions of a similar character under our auspices in Ceylon, the United Provinces and the Punjab.

"Thus the aim and object of its founder, that the Tata Silk Farm should be a Pan-Indian character, is already being realised.

"During the past few months this Institution has been awarded a gold medal in Bangalore, and a silver medal in Madras for its exhibit of the entire process from the silkworm egg to the woven article.

"A small weaving school under a trained weaving master now forms a part of this interesting Institution, which is at present still in its infancy, but which possesses in it the nucleus of great future possibilities."

Jamsetji was not interested in it for the sake of business as a follow-up to textiles. He wanted to give the poor a livelihood and India an industry.

When the Salvation Army first came to India it found in Mr. Tata a helpful friend. Its accent was on temperance and Jamsetji favoured their movement.

Mr Booth Tucker of the Salvation Army in a letter to Burjorji Padshah, November 1, 1912, wrote: "The impetus thus given to the silk industry in India can hardly be over-estimated. Government, which before had given up the effort in despair, have now recommended operations. Orders have been issued for the general planting of mulberry trees and bushes.

Bulletins and pamphlets have been issued giving instructions regarding the cultivation of silkworms. Public demonstrations have been made in connexion with Exhibitions... In the not distant days when silk will have become to India what it is already in such countries as Japan, China, France and Italy, the name of the man who launched the enterprise will be held in grateful remembrance by those who will have been benefited by his forethought and labours."

In India of today, it is little known that the flourishing silk industry of South India especially was revived by the same man who was to give it iron and steel and hydroelectricity.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

How Many Roads are Named after Women?

Recently I was speaking about City Idols with my father's colleague. She asked me a question that got me thinking: How many roads in Bangalore are named after women? 
Very few... is the answer. I can think of a few in Bangalore -- Kasturba Gandhi Road, a road and a park named after Kittur Rani Chennamma, Mother Teresa Road, and... I am already running out of names.

As I searched further, I found this interesting article: Mapping the Sexism of City Street Names. As you can see from the article, Bangalore has 39% of its streets named after women. This is higher compared to many of the other cities.

But when I look at the map, I am not able to find such a large number of streets named after women. I am reaching out to Aruna Sankaranarayanan of Mapbox in Bangalore, to understand how they have arrived at this conclusion.

If any of you know how we can get more information on this, please email me at:

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Streets Named after Slum Children in Mumbai!

Almost every big city in India has a Mahatma Gandhi Road. It is certainly important to recognise and remember the Mahatma in every way. But it is equally important to recognise the contributions of local heroes... people from the locality who have made useful contributions to their society.
Door Step School worked with the people in the slums of Bombay and did this amazing thing. This two minute video is inspiring and worth a watch:

This is very motivating. I hope you like it too.
Please do share it widely. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

City Idols wins Ashoka Recognition!

Since school began, it has been an effort to catch up with the work of City Idols. But here is a nice update that happened in August...
Recently, City Idols was recognised by Ashoka Youth Venture as a promising idea. Here is the formal announcement:
But the real hard work of taking this to more roads/ parks in Bangalore and then to other cities begins now :-)
Thank you for your support so far. I hope to work with all of you on this journey!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Meeting with Youth for Seva

A few days ago, I met with Mr. Venkatesh Murthy, who is the founder of an organisation called Youth for Seva (YFS). They have chapters in many cities around the country. Here is an extract from the YFS website about what they do:

Youth for Seva (YFS) started in April 2007 as a platform to provide opportunities for youth who wanted to take active part in community development despite time constraints. Through this platform, YFS aims to empower youth to become positive change makers who will enable organizations and institutions to work without a vested interest

The meeting provoked several new ideas such as creating a standard 'Google Form' for submitting entries, creating a separate 'Whatsapp' number for people to send pictures of handwritten entries etc. 

I am really glad for him to have taken out the time to meet and discuss City Idols with him. I am also really grateful for his useful inputs. The best part was that he has also said that he is willing to reach out to his friends in other cities to see if we can get more entries. Keeping fingers crossed :-)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Periera Street in Chennai

This is a well written article on the Periera Street in Chennai, which I found on the Madras Local History Group. The article has been published in The Hindu. The link to the article is:

For those who are interested to read it, the article is also pasted below. 

In my efforts in documenting Chennai's past, several people have helped me. One of these is PB Subramaniam of Rasappa Chetty Street, Park Town. He has not let difficulties in his vision impact his love for history and heritage. A couple of weeks ago, he asked me if I knew of Pereira Street off Wall Tax Road near Central Station. The locals, he said, refer to it as Jamla Thottam.
This narrow thoroughfare establishes a link to the 1650s when our city was in its infancy. It was once a vast garden that belonged to John Pereira, a Portuguese merchant. Known initially in East India Company records as Senhor Joan Perera de Faria, he was practising his business at Nagapattinam in the 1650s. His ships sailed to Indonesia and the king of Macassar (now the provincial capital of South Sulawesi) in that country had appointed him agent for supplying “necessaries from the Indian coast.” His contacts and trading skills made him close to Agents Aaron Baker and Thomas Greenhill of Fort St George. By the late 1650s, Pereira had shifted to Madras where he had a house in Fort St George. In 1678, when Governor Streynsham Master imposed the city’s first conservancy tax, which applied to a few houses in the Fort and in Black Town, Pereira’s residence was among those included.
For his rest and recreation, Pereira acquired in 1671 a garden just outside the Fort measuring 36000 sq ft. To water the 250 coconut trees in it, he had three wells dug. He also erected a small tiled house and a private chapel. He bequeathed the garden to his granddaughter Antonia de Carvalho da Silva after his death in the 1680s. The good woman assumed that it was hers for perpetuity only to discover in 1719 that the land was never Pereira’s to pass on. He had merely leased it for a period of 31 years. At her request, the lease was renewed on the same terms. In 1739, she requested the Company to give her the land in perpetuity, in view of her family having paid the rents for over 60 years. This was refused, but she and her daughter Josepha de Silveira were allowed use of the house during their lifetimes.
In the 1740s, with the area surrounding old Black Town (present-day High Court) being cleared, the dispossessed families were settled in what came to be known as John Pereira Thottam (Tamil for Garden). This later morphed into Jambura/Jamla Thottam. What was once an upmarket area for garden houses degenerated rapidly thereafter. The Trinity Chapel was constructed here in the 1830s, and then in the late 1890s came the biggest landmark of all — Central Station with its appurtenances such as the Rail Mail Sorting Building and the Goods Shed, all built on the garden and the adjoining Hog’s Hill. It’s a wonder that despite all the changes, John Pereira continues to be remembered. Chennai moves in mysterious ways.