We continue the second part of our story where we ask the question "Can there be another Silicon Valley other than the one in San Jose California?" The Indian city of Bangalore is oft referred to as "The Silicon Valley of India".
They say this because Bangalore contributes the maximum towards Software exports. Agreed. They say this because Bangalore has the largest concentration of IT companies including the top two. Agreed. They say this because amongst other IT cities in the country, Bangalore is the IT Mecca. Agreed. They say this because Bangalore is a better place to live in what with it being a Singapore-like city. Disagree totally.
Bangalore's history is unquestionable and perhaps surpasses that of San Jose. A city has to offer more than just Information Technology - infrastructure for example, which is directly related to the quality if life. We know that San Jose does. How about Bangalore?
We'll find out soon enough...
Legend has it that King Veera Ballala belonging to the Hoysala dynasty found himself lost in the jungle while hunting. He came upon a shack nearby wherein lived an old woman. Seeing the king's predicament, she extended to him her hospitality and being poor, all she could offer him by way of food were boiled beans, which in the local Kannada language translates to "Benda Kaluooru". The king was touched by the old woman's hospitality that he named the entire region as "Bengalaooru" - the land of boiled beans. Years later with the advent of the British ruler the place was called "Bangalore" in 'propah' English.
However, the man credited for shaping the city was Kempe Gowda, a chieftain of the Vijayanagar dynasty in the early 16th century. He built four towers in four different directions to mark the city's boundaries. And over the years, as invasions brought about the decline of the Vijayanagara Empire the rule of the Wodeyars, Hyder Ali and Tipu Sultan added the most significant chapter in Karnataka history. While wars were fought on the terrains of Mysore with the British, Bangalore was their summer retreat because of its salubrious climate. Lush with greenery, superb gardens and a host of other factors made Bangalore city the country's pride and earned it the name "Garden City" of India.
Had it not been for Hyder Ali and his warrior son, Tipu Sultan, Bangalore's history could well have been different. The advent of the British rule resulted in four wars against the rulers of Mysore. Eventually, Tipu Sultan was killed in a bloody battle near Seringapatna and the British came to rule the territory, Bangalore became one of the four sub-divisions. And when the British quit India, Bangalore earned the sobriquet "pensioner's paradise" since many retired army and air force personnel choose to settle here.
There's no doubting the fact that those were Bangalore's most glorious days. After all, it was a city with character; perfect for a holiday away, the ideal getaway from the heat of the plains and maddening crowds. It was sheer pleasure to just walk down M.G. Road or Brigade road in the chill of the evening. No murderous traffic on those narrow roads (still as narrow as they've always been) or exhaust fumes clouding the already misty evenings. Old English houses with their home gardens, potted plants and colorful flowers dotted the landscape of this once beautiful city, where air-conditioners or fans were unheard of. Bangalore weather remained the best attraction.
Indeed, those were the days, my friend...
The government lured industrialists to set-up operations in Bangalore, promising all sorts of incentives. Already, Bangalore was blessed with some central government-owned giant corporations such as the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) manufacturing fighter planes, the Indian Telephone Industries (ITI) which made telephone instruments and telecommunication equipment, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), which was into electronic equipment and components. And each of these industrial units employed hundreds of thousands of people. Many Corporates too, shifted base to Bangalore and in came more people because more job and business opportunities sprung up. With the country's economy booming, Bangalore's floodgates opened.
The urbanization of Bangalore was but natural. Despite the influx, it never dawned on the powers-that-be that something wasn't right. Infrastructure wasn't keeping pace. Somewhere around this time - one cannot really tell when - the downslide commenced.