Saturday, November 22, 2008

'Bangalore will not be Bangalored by Hyderabad'

'Bangalore will not be Bangalored by Hyderabad'
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Mahesh Dattani Posted: Nov 22, 2008 at 1704 hrs IST
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: In an exclusive interview with Ashok Kumar, Mahesh Dattani argues that Hyderabad does not have a conducive atmosphere like the one that is in Bangalore, making it difficult for Hyderabad to take over the garden city.

Bangalore is not likely to be Bangalored by Hyderabad, though it is a different issue that Hyderabad might grow with the obvious growth of the IT industry taking place throughout the country. In the present times Bangalore is facing stiff competition from the upcoming hubs of IT in states such as Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Delhi, Chandigarh in general and Hyderabad in particular.

Hyderabad, at its best, is an alternative to Bangalore and not its proxy. Nowadays, there is space for everyone and along with Hyderabad other cities could also come up as rising IT hubs. Bangalore per se has benefited because of the IT industry sprawling in its lap, which further enhanced the general prosperity in the city. This inflow of wealth also gave enough scope for other allied and non-allied sectors, such as educational institutions and growth of art and other tertiary fields.

Repressive policies are a big culprit to malign the liberal image of Bangalore in the eyes of global IT industry. Certain actions such as closing down of bars have been very detrimental to the image of Bangalore, which forced the companies to look for areas that suited them better. I have learned that there is a proposal, which would categorise all forms of prevalent dances, except Bharatnatyam, as cabaret. Now such weird moral policing would certainly come in the way of the IT prospects of Bangalore. Who would like to come to city that bereaves you of that very essential freedom, which is a must for an all round well being of the person and his/her family?

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Such insecure politics in the state is also a big impediment in the growth of Bangalore, which boasts of its IT sector. As I understand, it is basically the political doctrines, which opens avenues for all sorts of development including the IT industry. Unless this city develops its roads and provides ample water and electricity to the growing urban areas of Bangalore, it will be difficult for it to not only grow beyond its own standards but also to retain whatever name it has made for itself as a 'Silicon Valley' of the country.

Other infrastructural facilities such as five star hotels have reached their saturation point of occupancy, as most of them are having hundred per cent occupancy throughout the year and are leaving very less space for the entrepreneurs and other corporate personnel, who visit the city regularly for operations and managerial purposes. Even if the city wants to get more hotels constructed there are constraints on account of the basic requirements.

Who says it is the Silicon Valley of India? Sometimes this prized sobriquet is hard to digest. It does not have even the minimum standards or required infrastructure. It does not have stable governments. Situations have to enforce such a turn that it becomes a win-win situation for the city, as well the industry and its workers and other entrepreneurs. Bangalore is certainly not rejected. Those, who detected the merit of the city and decided to set up their base here, cannot abandon it. It is wrong to say that a sort of exodus is happening from Bangalore to Hyderabad. It is hard to believe that IT industry would be short sighted so as to drop Bangalore to seek avenues in other cities. For it was this industry, which spotted Bangalore as an option.

Similarly unlike Kerala and Calcutta, Bangalore is free from regular labour strikes and other problems that come in the path of the corporate world. Yes, now the city is also facing, among other challenges, price Inflation and a steep rise in the cost of living as compared to other cities. But ironically, it is the same IT industry, which has pushed up the cost of living. Yet one thing should be kept in mind - expenses are not such a big issue when you look at the multiple benefits brought by the IT industry.

I don't think there is any dearth of personnel, who are willing to serve in Bangalore. You see money is one of the biggest issues and without any doubt there is an ample sense of economic security in the city. As a matter of fact, IT industry gives enough money to survive comfortably but not enough to grow fat. This might lead to some people changing their base to smaller cities such as Hyderabad, Waynad or Goa.

Talking of Hyderabad in particular, it does not have a conducive atmosphere like the one that is there in Bangalore so on that account it is difficult for Hyderabad to take it over.

Though Hyderabad has got good politicians such as Chandra Babu Naidu, the politicians of Bangalore have learned quite a few lessons from them. After Naidu lost heavily in the last elections, politicians here in Bangalore have started taking extra precautions. It needs to be remembered that Naidu is one politician, who is known for working too hard for Cyberabad but at the cost of farmers. This eventually cost him his seat of power. So, I feel politicians in Karnataka do not want to fall in that trap - going for development at the cost of masses. S M Krishna also tried hard on his part to work for the cyber image of the Bangalore city.

On the other hand, Chandra Babu Naidu is an intelligent politician but he lacks the vision regarding the IT industry, which is why he could not snatch the shimmer of Bangalore for Hyderabad. I don't expect much from the incumbent CM Kumaraswamy. It is hard for me to understand what his visions are for Bangalore. For things to move in a positive direction, a politician should have a vision. A dialogue and a subsequent action follow the vision. There are solutions to the existing problems of Bangalore but a common Bangalorean, in his individual capacity, cannot do much about all this. As far as the space crunch is concerned, Bangalore can give way to the satellite towns instead of putting unordinary pressure on the already strained city.


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