Bangalore: Teething troubles on path to globalisation
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For years, everybody grumbled about how bad, ugly and outdated the airport was.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]