Is ‘Brand Bangalore’ all that there is to our State?

SAVITHA G.R. writes from Bangalore: As the political dramayana took one embarrassing turn after another last week, NDTV 24×7 had a poser one night: ‘Is the Bangalore dream turning sour?’ The provocation was the political instability in Karnataka.

Now, I am not, by any stretch of imagination, defending the political nataka taking place in the State. However, for me, the question smacked of a certain attitude, an attitude that told me that in the eyes of the country, if not in the eyes of the Delhi-based TV channels, Bangalore is all that matters, and not the State.

Of course, the perception is that Bangalore is thriving, thanks to its huge, young, IT workforce, and this will eventually trickle down to other parts of the State. But, when an entire State is wobbling under the weight of the political games, surely it is naivette to think of only Bangalore being affected?

Also, the term ‘The Bangalore Dream’ set me thinking.

The media has been quick to latch on to the coinage. Variations include ‘Brand Bangalore’. Now, who dreamt this dream? And what is it? When they say ‘The Bangalore Dream’, is it something that every Bangalorean is part of? Or do they, by any chance, mean the dreams of the IT industry?

The infrastructure is crumbling, everyone complains. Yes, it is true. It takes hours to reach Electronic City, they say. But, the same is true of every other part of the City. There are cities within cities, and by equating ‘The Bangalore Dream’ with the dream of the IT industry and investors, aren’t we leaving out a huge percentage of Bangaloreans?

Also, are we implying that flyovers, mass transit, noveau-workplaces, big brands, maketh a city? And is it implied that as long as the head honchos of the top firms are happy, we have made sure the ‘fair name’ of the City is not tarnished?

Yes, we all want the best for our cities. We all want our politicians to be progressive, pro-active, and not indulge in the natakas that they are indulging in, right now. No one wants a polluted, bursting-at-the-seams City. But why is it that we talk of infrastructure, cleanliness, decent public transport only in terms of attracting investors, in terms of retaining an image of ‘Brand Bangalore’?

What have the people who have lived here all their lives done? Don’t they deserve anything from governments on their own?

Infrastructure means improving a city in totality. Irrespective of whether you want to retain its so-called brand name, or to draw investors. If you are going to build a city for the convenience of only a segment of its population, it’s no city at all. The soul is lost, forever.

So, if you ask me if the ‘Bangalore Dream’ is turning sour, I would like to ask, “Which dream? And what is it all about?”

Will our old Bangalore structures be retained, preserved, or will they be demolished to make place for yet another mall? Do we have a healthy respect for history at all? Will traffic be streamlined on the perenially clogged Gandhi Bazaar Main Road? Will garbage be cleared regularly on streets corners in Jayanagar? When is the Vijayanagar Main Road going to get back its old shape? And so on and so forth…

And as far as investors are concerned, Gauri Lankesh, Editor, Lankesh Patrike, made a pertinent point on the NDTV show: ”I don’t think political climate is going to change the business prospects of the MNCs, because when the Russian or the Japanese President comes to Bangalore, he is going to visit the Infosys campus before he visits the CM. Whichever government comes to power in Karnataka in future will pander to the Nandan Nilekanis and Kiran Mazumdars, so I don’t think it will be affected.”