India: Bengalooru Bangalored!

With due apologies to Prof. TT Ram Mohan who came up with this creative title for his post, and which I have happily borrowed from him.

The emergence of Bangalore from a laid-back garden city to a city of steel and glass buildings and and a major IT hub in India is a source of fascination for journalists, bloggers and others. Over the weekend Outlook, a well-known national magazine in English ran its cover story on Bangalore, the capital of the southern state of Karnataka that has made into the IT lexicon of many languages. The cover story had an attention grabbing headline: Why Bangalore Hates The IT Culture. Predictably, the story has created quite a bit of buzz in the online world.

Prof TT Ram Mohan writes his post Bengalooru Bangalore-d:

“What precisely are the grievances that people in Bangalore have against IT folk? The litany of complaints includes: rising property prices thanks to the IT employees’ purchasing power, grabbing of prime land by IT companies, the bar and disco culture and IT employees being preferred in the bridal market.”

Clearly, there is some kind of rift within Bengalooru and Prof Ram Mohan wonders aloud about an effective solution for the city. He writes:

“So, what do we do? Throw IT out? Not at all. Can greater philanthropy help? To some extent, maybe- for instance, a classy university run at affordable prices on IT endowments might help assuage popular sentiment.
But the biggest corrective, I reckon, will come from the very economic environment that created IT's prosperity- no more concessional land, a decline in profitability from a rising rupee and its attendant costs (including layoffs in the IT sector) and a greater focus on the domestic economy on the part of IT firms in the face of a rising rupee.”

Over at Churumuri there is a heated debate about the Outlook article and  Why Bangalore Hates The English Culture? Point your mouse to the post to find out what the denizens of Bangalore have to say about their city and what the article failed to cover.

But, should the IT sector be blamed for the state of Bengalooru? Abi of Nanopolitan writes:

“While reading it, it appears to me that people — even those who should know better — are attributing to the IT sector what should really be placed at the doorsteps of governance.”

It is just not the Outlook article that has folks talking about Bangalore, it is the local politics and the general state of affairs of the state that has folks in far off cities talking about Bangalore as bad business. Jaideep VG, a journalist and media consultant, who lives in Bengalooru writes in his blog Out of India:

“Last week, during lunch with a Dutch businessman who has lived and worked in India for 12 years and a young professor at the prestigious Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, the topic of Bangalore as a feasible base for business came up. The Dutch entrepreneur, who has spent a significant amount of time in this city working with the preserved foods industry began with a long rant against former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda and his son, the former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy. “I've been around, doing business during the SM Krishna administration and also during this mockery of a coalition government. How these people (Gowda and Kumaraswamy) have treated businesses and businessmen disgusts me,” he said. “I visit Bangalore often (he lives and works in Dindigul) and frequently speak to businessmen and entrepreneurs about the costs of doing business in Bangalore, and off late, have been hearing the same thing: it just doesn't make sense for people to set up new businesses in this city. In fact, Hyderabad and Chennai are talked about as preferred destinations,” he added.

On a personl note and as a resident of Bangalore I was not a happy camper after I read the article. Like many others I kept thinking what about the role of the Government in Karnataka and Bengalooru?

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