Sunday, November 28, 2004

Make it metro

CM Dharam Singh has demanded metropolis status for Bangalore. Do we have what it takes? BT asks those in the know
The Bangalore Times

MAHENDRA JAIN, commissioner, tourism On Bangalore’s population

• Bangalore qualifies eminently. The cosmopolitan culture of the city, the profile of visitors it draws from within and outside the country and the profile of the city itself, makes it so. We have everything from high tech institutions to academic institutions — this has created a unique city.

The population is increasing. The expats in the city number about 35,000, I believe, and visitors from overseas are around 300,000. Bangalore has different industries — biotech, conventional, software, manufacturing, garments, aeronautics and space research. We have a cosmopolitan and mixed workforce. Bangalore is ideally suited for the label of metropolitan city.

On interconnectivity

• We have the potential to be a metropolitan city. We are no longer the Bangalore of years ago. We have branched into the city’s outskirts which aren’t outskirts anymore.

Bangalore has everything one can ask for in a city — we have 80 per cent of facilities but not the bureaucratic setup or the political will. Florence, for instance is a large city with narrow roads and huge tourist traffic. But it’s all beautifully streamlined. If Bangalore is guided and controlled according to law, then many problems will be solved. But we just don’t have the infrastructure to be a metropolis — a multifaceted city with all facillities existing even in the outskirts. Look at New York — Rochester is outside the city but you can be in New York in one hour.

Do we have it? No. Unless we do, there’s no point in being given the tag. I would love it if it did, but you have to live up to it.

MAHESH DATTANI, playwright and director
On the mindset required

• There are Bangaloreans who have been here over 10 years, but still see it as just a city, while the new lot want it to be a metropolis. Bangalore has no choice but to be metropolitan if you are looking at it as an IT and corporate hub. It’s now like a caterpillar — it needs to break through — that’s easier said than done.

Perhaps some of the newer crowd have a metropolitan mindset, but not the old Bangalorean, whether in lifestyle or get up and go attitude. The mindset has to be thrust upon them.

RINI KUMAR, placement consultant
On the city’s metro beat

• You can get the tag only if you have the infrastructure, and we don’t. The people are fine — most are cosmopolitan and broad minded, but the lack of a basic infrastructure holds everything back. Does it have a metro beat? No, it needs much, much more.

Bangalore is too small, it needs much more development and money pumped in. People in the cultural field have no money to stage plays or events. There are umpteen restaurants mushrooming, but of what quality? They open and soon close. Bangaloreans have an eating out culture, but not top level in taste and standards. Only a a handful of restaurants offer exquisite food — the rest are multicuisine.

Bangalore is by no means mega as yet. The people want it, but it needs more scope. Bangalore people travel out for that rocking time. But no one really comes here for it.

Metropolitan city: “A large population centre consisting of a large city and its adjacent zone of influence, or of several neighbouring cities or towns and adjoining areas with one or more large city serving as its hub.”


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