April 24, 2007

Can we visualise a self-governing Bangalore?

Union finance minister, Mr P Chidambaram, has come up with a radical idea to make Mumbai a truly global city. It needs greater autonomy and better governance, if it has to deliver on good housing, roads, schools, water, and all the rest of the items that give a place a global city status. An experts committee on Mumbai as international financial capital has said Mumbai needs to be seen across the world as a welcoming cosmopolitan and cultured metropolis capable of accommodating a large number of expatriates.

Isn’t this the kind of vision many have for Bangalore? Mere location of a number of IT companies and BPOs do not make a Silicon Valley, as our consul general in San Francisco, Mr B S Prakash would tell us – ‘Silicon Valley is not a point in the map but a state of mind’. A defining feature of Silicon Valley, according to him, is ‘affluence in the air but with no signs of stress or striving’. We can’t say this about Bangalore, can we?

If we set up an experts committee on Bangalore as a global IT capital, it wouldn’t come up with anything very different from the findings of the Mumbai committee. Mr Chidambaram’s observation on greater autonomy and better governance was made at a conference organized by the Finance ministry and the Confederation of Indian Industry to discuss the experts committee report.

2 comments:

Guru said...

“It needs greater autonomy and better governance, if it has to deliver on good housing, roads, schools, water, and all the rest of the items that give a place a global city status”.

About autonomy and governance: It happened to a city some 100 years ago, and that was Mysore city and the governance was under Krishnaraja Wodeyar ably assisted by his diwans. So many including Mark Twain visited the city. When Sir MV ‘s sluice gates in KR Sagar dam were put in place, my mother used to say her uncle a civil engineer of some repute was saying to her how the gates design attracted a number of civil engineers from America who later were involved in TVA (Tennessee Valley Authority)


“Silicon Valley is not a point in the map but a state of mind’. A defining feature of Silicon Valley, according to him, is ‘affluence in the air but with no signs of stress or striving’. We can’t say this about Bangalore, can we?

If we set up an experts committee on Bangalore as a global IT capital, it wouldn’t come up with anything very different from the findings of the Mumbai committee”


About Silicon Valley and Bangalore IT hub: Silicon Valley has had its ‘ups and downs’, when in ‘downs’ I have seen my classmates who were highly skilled engineers driving taxis, working as janitors etc..

The major difference between the Silicon Valley and Bangalore IT hub is innovation. Innovative activities are born out of inspiration and this explains why ‘stress or striving’ is not palpable. Bangalore IT hub is born out of IT outsourcing , and the activities are labour intensive- thousands of lines of software code creation and testing in a day with little innovation, the modern version of ‘metal bashing’. I know how stressed the
programmers (who called themselves software engineers) are in these ‘software code factories’, a few of my young relatives have often been driven to the point of nervous breakdown because of the deadline demands.

About P Chidambaram and Mumbai Committee: Mumbai is a mix of Bollywood and the ‘rest of Mumbai’. The former is driven by black money and one can feel its effect on the ‘rest of Mumbai’. A stockbroker friend of mine says he cannot but admire the genius of the crime syndicate bosses who live in Mumbai and elsewhere who so successfully launder their money in the stock exchange. They and their cohorts already govern the city. Their laundered funds are channelled as venture capital for example in private hospitals which are expanding so fast. A relative of mine who is an accountant also echoes the same, and says that the laundered funds spread fast into many areas of financial services. If foreign investment and commercial banks operating their branches in Mumbai join together Chidambaram’s plan might move forward. What London, New York and Frankfurt have often demonstrated is that when it comes to activities out side their ambient, the big actors of finance are conservative with a ‘C’.s

Neelakantan said...

Nice post. Bangalore has the potential to be a brain hub of India. We have presence in aeronautics, high end technical work, textile design, great weather, some good institutions (iim, iisc), but for some strange reasons, they are like characters in a story who fail to gel. I wish they could, self governing or otherwise!