Bangalore: Teething troubles on path to globalisation

November 12, 2009

It has been a rather uneasy transition for Bangalore from “pensioner’s paradise” or “garden city” to the information technology capital of India.

Longtime residents often complain of immigrants from other parts of the country ruining their paradise. Such complaints have been common in Mumbai, which has witnessed waves of immigration since the 1950s, but Bangalore old-timers tend to blame the city’s problems on the “IT fellows”.

It’s fair to say the city’s infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with the growing population. Traffic jams, as everywhere in the world, are incredibly annoying and travelling in Bangalore makes one wonder what exactly inspired Thomas Friedman to sing praises of this city in “The World is Flat”.

The much-maligned metro rail project is blamed for turning the city into an ugly mess. Gone are many of the broad tree-lined avenues and pretty neighbourhoods that gave the city a small town feel.

But isn’t the very existence of a metro system going to help people avoid the traffic in the future? Residents of Bangkok used to complain about the construction work on the sky rail and the elevated roads. Now, the toll roads and the sky rail are the pride and joy of Thailand’s capital.

In its zeal to become a global city, Bangalore should look eastwards. Kuala Lumpur, for example, has changed beyond recognition in the last ten years. This was a city which had a major problem with cockroaches before its makeover.

Auto drivers in Bangalore tend to overcharge and many of them have tampered meters. But there is a new air-conditioned bus service that connects many parts of the city to its centre.

There are also some good taxi operators offering air- conditioned cabs. But one would never know it by talking to the residents.

Bangalore’s problem could just be the impatience of its residents or maybe their whining nature. The city is polluted and congested but surely India’s other metros are as bad, if not worse. I for one would love to have a “quit complaining” movement in this city.

For years, everybody grumbled about how bad, ugly and outdated the airport was. And then came the new and modern airport (which some say paid more attention to the needs of retailers than passengers) — one that was spacious and visually appealing.

But this being Bangalore, the whining brigade started complaining about how far the airport is from the city.

[PHOTO: Women walk past an elevated highway under construction in Bangalore in this May 8, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Arko Datta/Files]


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This problem is here in Hyderabad also…. same complaints, same problems….

Posted by Sreekanth | Report as abusive

the author is nonchalant to the feelings of residents. Banglore is not a metro. FYI. Just because other cities are bad doesnt mean blore has to endure same fate. the other cities were bad for a long time blore is bad only in last 5 or 10 years. i know how it felt to live in blore 10 yrs ago. it was truly paradise. laidback lifestyle. probably the author did not see those life in blore 10 yrs ago. it is truly disgusting to call people whining. these people are not calling blore to be inline with other cities like KL or wanting their city to be silicon valley. remember that. banglore provided nice cool climate and non crowded roads attracted people there. but rapid changes in last few years and laziness or greedyness of the government to do things in rapid pace resulted in this mess. quit badmouthing the residents.

Posted by vivek | Report as abusive

Nice job Vivek in proving the author right with that diatribe

Posted by Tim | Report as abusive

Haven’t been to Bangalore in quite a while now, but am in constant touch with people who reside there – some recent settlers and some old timers. All agree that things are very very bad. Problems seem to have increased recently because of the IT influx, but I don’t think it is fair to blame the IT for going there. I think, like elsewhere, infrastructure has just not been given its due importance? Now its trying to catch up. As far as the airport is concerned, what I gather is that not that it is too far away but that the connecting roads were not followed up on as urgent a basis.Maybe these are gestation pangs, as pointed out, but the fact is that they seem to have been going on for far too long along with massive cost over runs and after all it is the tax payers money. Maybe the problem is lack of governance and planning and one can’t blame people for complaining and about it – that pressure helps in getting things done just that wee bit faster.

Posted by Dara | Report as abusive

People always resist change: But change is the only constant. City’s traffic and infrastructure problems are more because of the very ignorant behavior of the residents which includes the natives and also the migrants. The natives of Bangalore are so accommodative that, they lay welcome hand to any body and every body …Unlike what’s been started to happen in Mumbai (remember MNS).True that the metro project has turned the city into an ugly mess. It’s largely because of the inefficiency of the metro contractors and the lack of co-ordination with other public service bodies.

Posted by Shiva Ramakrishna | Report as abusive

@Bangalore’s problem could just be the impatience of its residents or maybe their whining nature.-says the authorAuthor & Tim @November 13th, 2009 4:28 pm GMT:I personally feel that such a loose expression such as “whining nature” does not give credibility to whatever author wants to say and is no logic.@But isn’t the very existence of a metro system going to help people avoid the traffic in the future?”–New York has Metro and a Central Park in the middle of the NY city and infrastructure development will not destroy it and so is the case with state parks. In Rome, the metro system is not well developed because anywhere they dig, they come across ruins which have historical importance. So they take care. Perhaps the author will call those in Rome as whiners.May be these “whiners” in Banglore feel that the balance has not been retained.Same is true for Pune, not because of Metro though.We are insensitive to the importance of greenery.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive

I for one would love to have a “quit complaining” movement in this city: this observation is really disappointing..guess this is what happens when you cant find any of the bigger flaws of humans in Bangaloreans (violence, aggression, narrow minded behaviour…) You pick on whatever you find. Bangaloreans are really relaxed, easy going, friendly people – dont misjudge us.Rather than taking up the baton and putting the relevant points across to the government and responsible officials in a forceful piece that could actually make a difference (working for the people) you chose to write an opinion piece without the vital ingredient: empathy.

Posted by Preethi J | Report as abusive

It is sad to see the way the author has portrayed Bangalore’s problems and attitude of Bangaloreans. It is one of the most accommodating and friendly cities in India. The culture is open and welcoming.The pace with which the city has grown in the past decade is unparalleled in the world. It takes a lot of dedicated effort by the authorities to cope with, understand and plan for this kind of growth. Let us give the credit for the old Bangaloreans, the community and the government for facilitating and accommodating and spearheading the growth story.

Posted by vikas | Report as abusive

I am a Banglorean who’s been here all my life except the first year of my birth. My memories of Bangalore? Standing in the front of my dad’s scooter as a 5-yr old going on Jayamahal road, grinning in delight at the cool breeze blowing against my face, with maybe two other vehicles and twenty trees in sight.. another memory is that of us kids running from the bus-stop on a rainy day trying to reach a street on the way home as fast as possible, only because it had so many trees that you would not get soaked any more in the rain once you reached there..Yes, the population has grown in the last 3 decades, the IT movement has opened up opportunities and employment, it has placed Bangalore on the world map.. except that the government (at the time of approving these companies to come setup shop) has not taken into consideration infrastructure changes that would be needed to handle the same.. And in an attempt to set right its lack of foresight, the government has agressively started some road expansion projects at the cost of felling trees by the thousands – a feature that has been associated with the city for as long as I can remember. Most of these are ‘Plant a tree and make the city green’ drives that schools and residents passionately undertook way back in time!No one has anything against people coming here for work opportunities.. its a free world and Bangloreans have been known to welcome anyone who wishes to make this city their home. Why else would you have so many foreigners coming and settling in Bangalore from as early as the 80s? Quite the contrary, a lot of young IT professionals from Hyderabad and Chennai who come to work in Bangalore for its pub culture and its ‘happening’ crowd are known to whine as hell about the high cost of living, high rental and real estate prices, who hang around only with fellow migrants and never so much make an attempt to learn the local language/culture.. Why hasn’t the author written about that?Every person is sentimental about the city he or she has spent a good chunk of his life in. And trust me! for what Bangalore used to be, you just ended up falling in love with the city for its beauty.. it was a walking-talking spa city with a thereupatic effect of its own – something that has lasted years after its ceased to be the same. All that is being said is facilitate change, but please retain the soul of this city – Bangalore at one point was known for its roads (I know! sounds ironic), its greenery, cool weather and the taste of its water. And doing that is not whining, its heartbreak.. even for youngsters like me!

Posted by Sridevi | Report as abusive

I have lived 90% of my life in Bangalore.As for the last 10%, I’ve had the misfortune of staying in other metros.My fellow Bangaloreans,you should start conserving your whining.From what i’ve seen the whinings not going to stop anytime soon.As far as infrastructural developments goes,you cannot stop it,nor can you not want it.We need to ensure that it does not shred the city to bits.We should be proud that we still have a city that is far better than the other metros.A city that could still be saved.For sure, I would like to join ‘Quit comlaining and start conserving’ movement.

Posted by Abhilash | Report as abusive

I loved the Bangalore in early 90’s when I was working there. Relaxed, friendly people, greenery and you could feel a humane nature through out the city. Now I work in abroad and I don’t feel to go there during my holidays. Call me whining type or nostalgic or non-ambitious or conservative….!!

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive

Hi all,People voice their discomfort not at the development that is going on in the city rather the pace at which the development is going on. The elevated highway (silkboard to electronic city) was required atleast two years back… instead the city is still waiting for it… same is the case with METRO… Karnataka government and bangalore corporation have shown time and again how they fail to implement measures when they are required the most and give outdated solutions which do not do a good work at solving the problem in hand.Take the case of metro. does the metro connect electronic city with the city. no it dosent. but one thing thats laudable is the introduction of volvo buses by BMTC. I’m a frequent traveller in them. though they dont solve the problem related to traffic they do make the short distance long time travel a bit pleasant.

Posted by rahav | Report as abusive

The complaining, fully justified, is not against themodernising Development of Bangalore but the unfriendlyway itis being craried out with no thought of the ongoingimpact on the vehicle-owning class of citizens. As a foreigner,I mean immigrant from adjoining Kerala from thefifties to the nineties, I have seen, suffered and willingly participated inthe growing pains of the people.But the truth is this is all consequencesof thethe long-term domination ofthe visionless Congress Party in power.Even blind people could see the chaotic growth of the City, with unplanned narrow roads in the new adjoiningareas being colonised by private parties with an eyepermanently fixed on profits. And the seemingly democratic policy ofpermitting of registering new vehiclesby the dozens and hundreds every day. However let us hope that the growing pains will be worthwhilefor the native citizens. I still remember the the calm,cool,quiet,polite inviting Citiy and the citizenswhen I first steppedout of the Railway Station shiveringwith cold.—punyakotiquiet

Posted by P.R.Menon | Report as abusive

Well we need to understand that we live in a country called INDIA, may be Bharath… So every citizen has the right to live wherever he / she wants to. Who are we to say bangalore belongs only to me or you, this is the cause of downfall of India as a Nation, That is why a handful of british could rule us for centuries, we are basically Hippocratic crowd who only voice our opinion when our lives are in trouble. So please do not highlight such material as news.Guys learn to live as humans first then the rest will fall in its place.

Posted by Dr. Sriraghavan | Report as abusive

Bangaloreans have whining nature??? Its akin to saying India is land of snake charmers…you paint Bangaloreans with a broad brush.

Posted by Vasu | Report as abusive

we shud not blame immigrants for coming to Bengaluru. Their own government does not provide them jobs and they have no other choice but to live in another state where opportunities flow.but companies in Bengaluru are run by foreigners both from abroad and India and these managers discriminate against locals..i think karnataka govt must start a policy of reservation for locals in jobs.

Posted by Adiga | Report as abusive

I lived in Bangalore for 2 years and the situation is bad. But it is very wrong to be so critical of the whining attitude. It seems that you have chosen not to listen to the people who are very optimistic about the progress.There is no doubt that the ‘IT fellows\'(myself included) that you have mentioned are the people primely responsible for this state. But there are steps taken in the positive direction.The rickshaw wallahs and the night time limit for restaurants etc(which u missed out) is the worst part of the ordeal. The distance to the airport is one that Bangloreans I know have adjusted to.

Posted by Alan | Report as abusive

This author is quite outdated..have you lost connection with bengaluru ?? yeh the name changed long ago..airport issue no longer exists, i luv to cruise on that strectch of the new airport road..i have lived and worked in all metros now..and there is no other metro in india that is as clean as comfortable as bengaluru..the new paintings on walls along road side..the plan to build satellite towns around the city and others has made the natives like me proud..The only problem that this city now face is rude immigrants,insensitive and dirty (spreading dirt all around)..its unfortunate that karnatake govt is not taking any action when these immigrants to manage the hygine of the city.

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

A guy from a far away place comes to Bangalore, falls in love with the place and writes a blog to compare the underlying thoughts of residents (locals and Indians) because he could connect with the place and wants it better.And walla, he seems to have stirred a hornet’s nest with the welcoming and peaceful people of Bangalore up in arms against him. And being here for years and having scores of “born in Bangalore” friends, all I can say that a true Bangalorean won’t have spilled venom in the comments, terming people from rest of India as foreigners. Even the home-bred autoricksaw drivers, who can make life hell for a tourist or a local alike, would not care less from where their money is coming.Understandably, the old Bangaloreans do miss the green cover, but things change with time. You lose some you gain some. Can anybody deny the prosperity the so-called foreigners have brought to the city? And who benefited the most? Locals. Land worth thousands a decade back sell for crores now. Now, can I sell my garden to a corporate for a fortune and ask them to keep it the same?If I had loved my garden, I should have maintained it myself.

Posted by SM | Report as abusive

@Anita and AdigaPeople from other parts of India are not foreigners. Even the way you use the term immigrant is offensive.”The only problem that this city now face is rude immigrants,insensitive and dirty (spreading dirt all around)” – with attitudes like this how can you expect newcomers to integrate with locals?

Posted by Naidu | Report as abusive

If the residents of Bangalore have to brave the metro construction, the least that can be done is planned detours to make traffic woes bearable.At this time, the traffic is allowed to ’flow’ anywhere, including having to deal with cranes and forklifts to/from the construction sites. This is just one example of man-made ’obstructionism’ that compounds Bangalore traffic.Normally we take everything in our stride. It is unfair to call us Bangaloreans whiners — this time, we cant see the light at the end of the tunnel.Perhaps the author can make suggestions to ease the current situation instead of pointing at pies in the sky?

Posted by MC | Report as abusive

Who cares if someone complains about something ? this is india. If you wanna live stay calm and live or else leave the place or the country nothing is going to change because someone doesnt like something.

Posted by Srikanth | Report as abusive

Everyone loves their City and it is quite understandable that Bangalore denizens are upset about their city’s present state of affairs. But going by some of the reader comments, one begins to wonder their real cause of discontentment. Which factor worries them the most? Are they upset about the creaking infrastructure or the influx of immigrants? Just blaming the immigrants or “foreigners” for all the ills will not solve any problems. London and Paris have attracted far wider variety of immigrants (including many Indians) than Bangalore. But still, those cities’ infrastructure has not collapsed. Instead they have become better. A case in point: London’s population is about 14 million and its density is 4,761 people per square kilometre. Paris houses about 12 million people and its population density is 25,360 per square kilometre. And the population continues to rise in those cities. In comparison Bangalore’s population is 6.5 million and its density is 8,321 per square kilometre. Paris is denser than Bangalore, yet it is regarded as the most beautiful city in the world. I understand that Bangalore was never a “metro”. But it is not a village either. I also understand that both London and Paris too have issues with immigrants. But in their case immigrants are actual foreigners — i.e., people from Africa and South Asia. A typical Londoner will not call someone from Warwickshire an immigrant. Whereas here in this blog, some of the commentators have chosen to describe their fellow Indians hailing from other parts of India as “immigrants”. Is it because they speak a different language? If that is the case then what happened to our nation’s proud motto of “Unity in Diversity”? India is a mosaic of diverse cultures, languages, customs and beliefs, and we all need to appreciate this cultural conglomeration. What we need is a strong government with a world-class vision, which can meticulously plan and execute infrastructure projects. We don’t lack in money but we lack in vision. Instead of blaming each other for our present sorry state of affairs, let us all put our heads together and figure out how to save this beautiful city from collapsing totally.

Posted by sksp | Report as abusive

I have lived in Bangalore for 20 years and I can vouch for the fact that anti-outsider sentiment is nothing new. (It doesn’t mean I don’t like the place or the people)The complaints used to be against the Tamils and Muslims who “came here in droves” and as the IT industry set up shop, the focus primarily shifted to North Indians. Anybody who is from the north of Karnataka is classified as a North Indian.Expnsion, development and the outsourcing industry are here to stay. Those who miss the quiet place with the nice weather can shift to Coorg or the Nilgiris.

Posted by Lalbagh | Report as abusive

Nobody has benefited more from the arrival of immigrants than the locals. Local landlords are getting fatter and richer charging super-high rents.Local auto rickshaw drivers make a killing on those who don’t speak Kannada and local officials get lakhs from kickbacks.Local youth get more money working for IT companies than they ever would have for locally run businesses.The real problem is that locals don’t want to see others making money and living well. I see a bit of MNS in the locals that have posted comments here.Wake Up! India is ONE country.

Posted by Nirmal Singh | Report as abusive