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Shekhar’s biggest regret is that he has just two fingers he can use to treat his patients. “Please don’t write about me. I already get more people than I can treat,” he says. The 54-year-old healer works from a tiny crevice in a narrow bylane of Balepet in old Bangalore.

A massage tradition from 150 years ago

Friday, 12 July 2013 11:09

150 year old medicine

LEGACY OF TRUST Ravindra Babu at the Akkipet Kayangadi Papanna clinic. His clients include IT professionals.

Therapy with a twist and a coin

Friday, 12 July 2013 11:02

coin theraphy

When Vijaylakshmi and Sreelata, two educated women in their mid-forties, land at Bangalore airport from Hyderabad, they seem no different from other visitors to the city. But they give a somewhat unusual destination to the cab driver: Karekal village near Nelamangala. They have come here to visit native healer Shivanna, popularly known as Coin Cut Shivanna, who practises at Ashakirana Ayurvedic Hospital.


The hospital is actually a small house by the highway with a hall, two bedrooms and a kitchen. Twenty chairs are placed in the hall for patients to wait. Separate rooms are used to examine men and women. Shivanna has just one assistant, Narayanappa. When it was their turn, Sreelata enters the examination room. She tells Shivanna that she has chronic back pain. Shivanna does not ask anything further, nor looks at the medical reports she is carrying. He simply applies a specially prepared herbal oil on her back, touches the spot with his forehead and meditates for a few moments.


He then lifts both her legs and sets them on the ground again. He applies plaster of Paris on the spot. He then places four coins in four corners around it, and applies four to five layers of plaster of Paris. “Now tell me where it was paining, for how many days. Do you still feel the pain?” he asks. Sreelata, who is now standing, says that she feels better now. She recollects her extreme back pain, which made it impossible for her to stand in the kitchen even for 20 minutes. “By the time I could fry two chapattis, the pain would be unbearable. If I stood a little more, I felt I was going to collapse,” she said. Sreelata had undergone treatment at several modern hospitals, but had found no relief.


When she heard of Shivanna, she decided to come to Bangalore along with her friend Vijayalakshmi who had the same problem. Thanking Shivanna, she asks when she should come next. “Come again only if you have pain. There is no need to come otherwise,” is his reply. The knowledge of coin healing has been in Shivanna’s family for generations. As a child, he watched his grandmother Hanumakka prepare the medicinal oil. He accompanied her to the forests, helping her collect herbs, and learning how to make the oil. “It is the same oil that I make and use on my patients to this day,” he says. He later learnt under his uncle Muniyappa and father Gangayya. “It is a divine gift to our family.


I am of tcoin cuthe sixth generation practicing this technique,” he says. A simple man, Shivanna betrays no signs of pride, arrogance or greed. He charges just Rs 100 per consultation. His father Battarahalli Gangayya is a famous native healer who practices in his 150-bed hospital nearby. Shivanna worked with his father for 20 years from 1982 to 2002. He then started his own hospital at about one km from his father’s hospital in Karekal village by the Bangalore- Mangalore National highway. He treats 50 to 150 patients every day. The rush is so much that Shivanna doesn’t find time to even eat his meals. He hasn’t taken a day off for the past 30 years. “People come from as far as Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh trusting me.


How can I let them down? So I try to be available to my patients every day,” he says. His family has been complaining that he doesn’t spare time for them. “When I see patients who had come moaning in pain go smiling, I feel happy. People’s love and trust is more important to me,” he says. A majority of his patients are women. Shivanna blames it on the modern tiles on the floors of houses and toilets. “They slip and fall in their own houses and have to undergo surgery,” he says.


People come to him with fractured limbs, spinal cord problems, weakness, rheumatic pains, dislocated joints, sprains, cervical spondylitis and slip discs. “I have handled critical cases too. In certain cases, doctors from hi-tech hospitals had conducted two-three surgeries and had given up. But I have treated them and they started walking again,” he claims. Shivanna’s fame has spread so wide that his clientele included Kannada film idols Rajkumar, Ambarish and Vishnuvardhan. Former Lokayuktas, Justices Sudheendra Rao and Santosh Hegde are also regulars at his clinic. Rao calls on him at least once a month, and has helped organise camps in his home town Bangarupete, where Shivanna treated hundreds of people.


From 1982 to 2002, Shivanna would attend to patients out of town every Friday. He has conducted camps in Mysore, Hyderabad, Guntur, Vishakapattana, Bangarupete and Shimoga. In October 1985, Shivanna participated in the Open Challenge held in USA, where orthopaedic doctors from all over the world participated. Shivanna and his father Gangayya treated 10 patients without even seeing the X-ray. The father-son duo was awarded the Best Doctor title.


His father Gangayya is 95 now and is unable to attend to patients. His assistants run the hospital in Yantaganahalli. “Many are claiming they are Gangayya’s sons are treating patients. People have to be careful,” he says. “It is fine if they are able to really treat patients.” Shivanna has three daughters and one son. He also does some farming in his five acre land, where he grows bananas, tomatoes and beans. He is unhappy that people are leaving agriculture and migrating to cities. “People are lazy. They sell their land for a pittance and spend the money on liquor. Instead of farming, they go to cities and clean toilets. The same people who would feed others, beg for food in cities,” he says. Perhaps Shivanna’s art draws on acupressure, but he only understands it his way: what he has inherited came from his loving grandmother.


Ad space in our city is free for all

Friday, 12 July 2013 10:13


Revenue from hoardings can generate at least Rs 198 crore a year. Though reeling under a debt of more than Rs 3,000 crore, the BBMP does little to collect this amount, or even act against agencies displaying hoarding illegally

The BBMP in its 2012-13 budget statement had estimated revenue of Rs 198 crore from rentals for hoardings across the city. But an assessment of the inflow as of March 2013 reveals that the municipal body has been able to garner only a fraction of the amount, a mere Rs 20 crore. BBMP Leader of the Opposition MK Gunashekar had on June 16 written to the BBMP Commissioner asking for immediate action to remove about 1,000 illegal advertisement hoardings. In a council meeting, Gunashekar pointed out: “Agencies seek permission to put up a specific number of hoardings.


However, numerous additional ones are put up illegally because of which the BBMP is losing revenue. It needs to immediately remove these hoardings and furnish a list of authorised hoardings, and the revenue generated.” The BBMP has two main sources of revenue—property tax and advertisement tax, fees and rentals. Middle-class citizens have consistently been paying property tax, which translates into a steady source of revenue. The BBMP’s revenue stream is being dented because of evasion by some among the ultra rich. In addition, its Akrama-Sakrama (illegal building regularisation) scheme is caught in red tape, and revenue has not been coming in steadily over the years.


Revenue comes from space allotted for hoardings on the properties of the BBMP, the railways and the police department. The BBMP’s website lists 5,000 boards on its properties, 199 on railway properties and 18 on police department properties in the city. Despite these large numbers, the revenue from these sources is poor and slack. The area under the agency is divided into A, B and C regions. Region A comprising Raj Bhavan, Vidhana Soudha and High Court are closed to advertisement hoardings, while region B comprising MG Road, Brigade Road, Commercial Street, Rajajinagar, Basavangudi and Jayanagar are allowed to display them.


bbmpmpRegion C, comprising new areas of Bangalore after villages were incorporated into the BBMP, falls under a grey area—there is ambiguity about whether boards can be placed or not. The BBMP deputy commissioner’s office is entrusted with monitoring advertisement revenue and space. It has to ensure that agencies pay rent in time, and scrutinising that licenses are not used beyond May 31 of every year. It has failed on all the above counts. There has been only the occasional blacklisting—the BBMP blacklisted the ODM Media Services advertising agency for not remitting over Rs 1.5 crore in revenue after having used public spaces for advertising. Jagadeesh Advertising Agency owes the BBMP over Rs 2 crore. Yet, no action has been taken against the agency so far.


A Congress corporator who wishes to remain anonymous alleges that the BBMP has failed to collect almost Rs 15 crore from the 199 boards placed on a railway property that comes under the BBMP. Advertisement revenue from bus stands too has failed to come in. After having bagged orders to build 48 bus stands where they could display advertisement boards, contractors connived with some politicians and went on to build nearly 94 bus stands, displaying boards at all these sites without paying any fee to the BBMP. The Dasarahalli area of Bangalore which comes under region C has caused perpetual loss of revenue for the BBMP. The area has six corporators including twice-elected Muniraju.


The Peenya Industrial Estate and the Bangalore- Tumkur national highway fall under this region. The BBMP has issued an official circular stating that there are no advertisement boards in the area, but a JD(S) corporator says this is shocking as these hoardings are there for all to see. “This circular is part of a conspiracy hatched by the BBMP officials, elected leaders and ad agencies to pretend there are no hoardings, when we get to see plenty of them in public.” To compound the BBMP’s problem, advertising agencies have managed to get a stay order on the removal of boards across the city.


boardWhen asked why the BBMP failed to act, an official said, “Each agency has a corporator backing it, not to speak of the support from higher politicians. When we confront the agencies, they flash a stay order at us. Before the legal section within the BBMP can take any action, they have to work on getting the stay orders vacated, which takes anywhere from three to six months. Besides, it has to contend with the prohibitive cost of removing each board. We have estimated that there are at least 3,000 illegal boards and most of them are from agencies with political support.” Former mayor K Chandrashekar told Talk, “People at the BBMP don’t listen to anyone.


They are so thick-skinned they ignore suggestions, advice, insights or even plain information. Even when there are exposes in the media, the BJP-ruled BBMP remains unperturbed. People should rise against the agency.” Mayor Venkatesh Murthy has completed his term in office. However, with the issue of appointing a candidate from the reserved category to the post cropping up, the matter of his successor is in court. Meanwhile, the BBMP’s debt has grown to Rs 3,350 crore. Yet, it appears to be in no mood to recover the Rs 178 crore from its projected 198 crore advertisement revenue. If it thinks this is too little an amount to bother about, the BBMP’s attitude can only be described as callous.


Brace up for higher taxes

Friday, 05 July 2013 08:15




NEW PRIORITIES The success of Siddaramaiah’s ‘socialist’ policies will require some deft balancing of the state budget

Your vehicle and household purchases, not to speak of your partying, are all set to become more expensive as an otherwise benevolent government tries to balance its books for its first budget on July 12