Friday, June 23, 2006

Bangalore vs Detroit

Bangalore is held aloft around the world as a symbol of the new economic order triggered by dramatic advances in information technology.

From being a staid and placid garden city to where retirees headed to build houses and spend peacefully the evenings of their lives, Bangalore is in the throes of rapid transition. It's definitely no longer the Pensioners' Paradise.

On the contrary, it is a bustling city -- largely populated by youth -- where offices work around the clock. Bangalore's 5.7 percent annual rate of growth has made it one of the fastest-growing cities not just in India but in all of Southeast Asia. It is also the second most literate city in India after Mumbai.

Inspite of all the richness of entrepreneurs and their employees, poverty and depravation is so evident. One example, a disgusting one, is the sight of children, sometimes even adults, defecating in the open beside the road, in small pockets of slums in upmarket localities. The paradox is so glaring as much as it is shocking.

So, I was pleasantly surprised to see an article: What Detroit Can Learn From Bangalore: A booming city’s lessons for a town in decline. The article, a well-researched one, is written by Shikha Dalmia, a senior analyst at the Reason Foundation.

There are two parts to the article: one, what Detroit can learn from Bangalore; and what Detroit can teach Bangalore. It's an interesting point-by-point comparison of Detroit and Bangalore.

Two quotes from the article:

-- Bangalore, a Third World city beginning with nothing, has experienced meteoric economic growth, while Detroit, once a formidable industrial powerhouse, can’t crawl out of its economic rut.

-- Bangalore has also made an important mistake. By favoring the I.T. industry with measures that range from preferential tax treatment to outright land grabs it has created a town too dependent on a single industry. In that respect, it could learn a sobering lesson from Detroit’s sad decline.


  1. I had been to Bangalore last year after almost 6 years and the city has changed beyond recognition. The only things that remain unchanged are the roads. I read this quote somewhere – While in the rest of India people drive on the left of the road, In Bangalore they drive on what is left of the road.

    In my opinion Detroit is a dying city, economically. It is only a matter of time before the big 3 reduces to the little 2s.

  2. Very interesting comparison.. with Metro rail and elevated highway coming up, long term hope does sustain in blore...

  3. I dont agree with the last part of the last quote. If you take any city or industrial hub it is dependent on an industry. Take thirupoor (textiles), kancheepuram etc. so it is an industrial cluster. Similelry bangalore is an IT hub.