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- The BEST bus represents the mobility plans for middle classes in Mumbai
- It is not just the locals but for migrants to Mumbai, the BEST bus is an icon
- Represented in movies, people have been using these vehicles for commute since decades
Mumbai, August 09, 2017: Mumbai’s most iconic vehicle since the past many decades has been the double-decker bus. The BEST bus is by the Bombay Electric Supply and Transport Company. The B was changed to Brihanmumbai in the year 1995.
When artist Sudarshan Shetty was just a schoolboy, he would often tell people his experience of sitting in the upper level of his “red Cadillac”, the red double decker bus.
In the 1950s, author Kiran Nagarkar rode the BEST bus when it had lettered routes in the form of A, B, and C. Today, BEST bus and routes use the number system. Nagarkar said that the double-deckers were “marvelous, especially if you had a girlfriend.”
While today Metros rule the urban city, it is the BEST bus that has represented Mumbai’s romance as well as struggle. In the movie ‘Choti Si Baat’ by Basu Chatterjee, it was in the double-decker where Vidya Sinha was wooed by Amol Palekar.
Palekar made his mark on Bollywood fraternity in the 1970s, the period when mega families were ruling the screens. He once stated, “Until Rajnigandha, a Hindi film hero was someone who had never traveled by local transport and never worked in an office.” The BEST bus, however, changed this common script.
The BEST bus was spotted in the song Jaanu Mere Jaan ki Shaan (1980) by an American blogger studying the patterns of Indian Cinema, Beth Watkins. She observes, “Putting a song in literal motion is a fun strategy. The women on the bus have some power as the audience for the men’s song because they’re sitting on the upper level. The bus isn’t moving any faster than the men’s bicycle, and by the end, the heroes take control of the bus and, thus, the romantic pursuit.”
Further, the bus has been iconically showcased in movies such as Ardh Satya (1983), Muqaddar Ka Sikander (1978) and more recently Ghajini (2008) and OK Kanmani (2015).
The BEST bus also helped in moving away from regional differences. Migrants to Mumbai felt closest to the city when they rode in the “red Cadillacs”. The bus conveyed that everyone is in it together. In Ravan and Eddie, a class novel by Nagarkar here is an extract from the opening chapter, “Parvati’s son bounced excitedly in her arms. Yes yes yes, he wanted to play with Victor, see the dog scratch himself, watch the game of kabaddi, get on to a double-decker bus and sit at the very front with the wind in his eyes and hair. He stretched out his arms and leaped.”
The bus leveled people from all walks of life. It also assured the immigrants that dreams are turned into reality in the city of Mumbai. Everyone here gets the opportunity. Students & teachers, leftists, and rightists, boss and subordinate, everybody rode together.
The executive chairman of the ICICI Bank, M K Sharma, often takes the red bus even today. He says, “It connects me with the common man, and has offered me invaluable insights. It starts the conversation.”
The BEST bus reminds Rustam Antia, an electrical consultant now aged 64, of his school days. “The school had commissioned BEST to run as school buses for us, and it was the only place where both boys and girls, who then attended separate buildings, mingled.”
The famous actor of the country, Mithun Chakraborty, also rode in BEST buses, more particularly the number 85 to Dadar station. Veteran Om Puri and the classic Naseeruddin Shah also rode in the red buses during their struggling years as an actor.
Interestingly, Om Puri was shocked to see that BEST conductors stood all day. In Delhi, the conductors always took to a specific seat.
Sunil Dutt was employed in BEST’s supply department and worked as a “shop recorder” while Badruddin Jamaluddin Kazi, comedian stage name being Johnny Walker, amused passengers by working as a conductor. Here is Walker expressing his memories in the BEST newsletter Varta, “I remember well, I began my work at the Dadar depot in 1942. In the beginning, my badge number was 16. It would change to 1266. My first salary was Rs 40. But expenses were not so high, so we lived a good life on this…. There was admirable discipline in BEST. Whether our uniforms were up to the mark or not, would be checked…”
While writing the script of the famous movie Baazi (1951), Balraj Sahni, he commuted with BEST bus to the film shoots.
For all these years of service, the discipline of the staff has always been consistent. The drivers and conductors are trained at the Dindoshi Centre. Not drinking and doing duty, chewing paan, body odor and torn buttons are pointed out to reform. It also includes responding effectively to a complaint of harassment by women. However, the well-lit interior of the bus ensures women safety to a great extent.
There are ladies first buses where women get the priority of boarding. There is a total of 500 routes covered by 3,800 buses and served by 41,000 staff members.
The buses with an open roof on the upper deck have been spotted in various parades. In the parade that celebrated P V Sindhu’s 2016 Olympic medal and the public party after winning 2007 T20 World Cup, the BEST open upper deck buses were a charm.
But the BEST buses have had their sorrows. As a representative of the middle class, these vehicles have suffered. They have been burnt and received beatings from stones during protests and social movements. Even in terror attacks, the buses have faced the brunt.
But BEST, as of today, is dismantling. The bad coaches and miscalculated finances clearly imply that. Nagarkar rightly points out that, “It takes a special kind of insanity to invest in a coastal road which will be used by less than 2.5 per cent of the population while refusing to invest in the transport used by the 95 per cent, the rest of us. Why should it die?”
BEST has a budget deficit of Rs. 590 crores. Buses are being sold and the routes are being reduced. In February, BEST failed to pay salaries to its employees. The Electricity Act that came out in 2003 snatches the company’s electrical arm for working, a post which the conditions deteriorated. None of the routes are profitable.
Moreover, the new cab services with mobile applications have worsened the chances of a possible comeback by BEST. Also, the BMC does not subsidize BEST.
It would be right to say that BEST is fighting for its survival.
“Almost the entire population depends on the local trains that are run by the Central government. The only rightful public transport that Mumbai can call its own is the BEST buses. They are there when the trains are down, in a crisis or (during) festivals. They run at their own pace and are not always efficient, but they are always there. BEST will continue to remain the city’s own and rightful public transport, till the Metro network run by the state government comes into place,” said Transport Historian and Author Rajendra Aklekar.
But the majority says that it is BEST that has to adapt and change. The Anik Depot’s BEST Museum rarely has any visitors on a given day.
Sudhir Badami, an Urban Analyst, strongly believes that the BEST buses can bounce back and be profitable. “If they are allowed to have a dedicated bus lane, that could help them deliver faster services. The BEST could also try to introduce a ₹25 ticket for 24 hours that could be used across the board and generate estimated revenue of ₹2,250 crore per annum and be close to breaking even at today’s traffic of 28 lakh passengers per day.”
– Prepared by Saksham Narula of NewsGram. Twitter: @Saksham2394
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Canadian researchers have discovered an overlooked gene that plays a major role in the development of antibodies, which help the immune system recognize and fight viruses including SARS-CoV-2, bacteria and other causes of infectious disease. The gene -- FAM72A -- facilitates production of high-quality antibodies by enabling the effect of an enzyme called AID (for Activation-Induced Deaminase), the researchers showed.
Immunologists have known for two decades that AID is essential to produce antibodies capable of clearing infections, but the full mechanism of its effect has remained unknown. "Our findings answer the long-standing question of how AID does its work," said Alberto Martin, a professor of immunology at the University of Toronto's Temerty Faculty of Medicine. "FAM72A helps AID to promote mutations in antibody genes that are essential for the development of effective antibodies," he added.
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. | Pixabay
Genetic mutations that lead to lasting changes in DNA occur through a process called mutagenesis. In the context of antibody development, mutagenesis unfolds largely through the AID-driven mechanisms called somatic hypermutation and class switch recombination -- both of which help antibodies gain the diversity and potency they need to counter a wide range of pathogens.
The results published in the journal Nature will help researchers better understand antibody development broadly, but they also have implications for cancer. Uncontrolled mutagenesis in B cells that produce antibodies is linked to B cell lymphoma, and FAM72A is present at very high levels in other cancers such as gastrointestinal, breast, lung, liver and ovarian cancers.
"Our data show that high levels of FAM72A promote mutations in antibody genes, so increased levels of FAM72A could spur cancer development, progression or drug resistance by increasing mutagenesis,a Martin said. Martin's team is now exploring those possibilities. Intriguingly, unlike other mammals, humans have four gene versions of FAM72A and their roles in cancer and antibody production are still unknown. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: researchers, cancer, mutagenesis, antibody, development, antibodies, canada, COVID
Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL), a subsidiary of Coal India will set up a 50 megawatt (MW) solar power plant in Odisha's Sambalpur at a total cost of Rs 301.92 crore, moving steadily towards its goal to achieve carbon neutrality by 2024. MCL has placed a turnkey order to set-up a 50 MW solar power plant with a Chennai-based firm M/s Hild Energy Ltd, which will establish this green energy project within a timeline of 10 months, the MCL said in a statement on Saturday.
This solar plant would cater to the captive power requirement of MCL. The Central PSU had successfully set-up a 2MW solar power plant in Sambalpur in 2014. The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024 in order to become a net zero energy company, aligning itself to use cleaner forms of energy for coal production.
The company said it has pledged a target of installing 182 MW of solar power by 2024. | Photo by Mariana Proença on Unsplash
This 50 MW solar power project will reduce CO2 emission by 91,020 tonnes per annum and carbon offsets of around 24,824 tonnes per annum, claimed the MCL. MCL is the leading production subsidiary of Coal India, having mining operations in Angul, Jharsuguda and Sundargarh districts of Odisha. Having achieved the highest ever capital expenditure of Rs 2,419 crore in the financial year 2020-21, the company has coal production and dispatch targets of 163 million tonnes and 182 million tonnes, respectively.
MCL was the coal mining company to introduce environment-friendly surface miner technology, which contributes over 95 per cent in coal production. As another environment-friendly initiative, the company has successfully introduced vertical rippers for blast-less over-burden removal in Hingula and Kaniha opencast projects. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: solar plant, carbon neutrality, Odisha, Sambalpur, Coal India, subsidiary, Mahanadi Coalfields Limited, solar energy
As the nation celebrated the 114th birth anniversary of his father - renowned poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan - megastar Amitabh Bachchan remembered his dad as he penned a heartfelt note for him. The actor took to his blog where he poured his heart out and also shared an unseen photo with his father. The image in question is from Big B's wedding in 1973, where the two are caught in a sweet moment as they look at each other.
Amitabh Bachchan wrote on his blog,
"My Father , my all .. November 27th his birth in the year 1907 .. Which makes it his 114th Anniversary .. He is in the heavens, with my Mother and they celebrate .. as do we , in thought word and deed .. (sic). But first."
He then posted the picture followed by elaborate paragraphs. The megastar wrote,
"Those rare moments when one would find himself rushing against the winds to prevent the distance between us and to close it down as soon as it can be. The day of my wedding and his expression of fulfilment to not just be in congratulation but instead to be in the face of a belief, a chime, an ultimate season of love and great passion, of the quarries of the fears and conditionings of these deprived gym routines kart ..(sic)". "This could have been unknown for long facilitating years, to give not expected versions and lastly large scale informations of the insides ; but as time passed by, as does now , they explained purposely, the values of education and similarity .. Be in peace and love .. (sic)",
the veteran actor concluded his note. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Amitabh Bachchan, Harivansh Rai Bachchan, actor, blog, birth anniversary, 114th birthday