Striking conversations with cab drivers always provided me with very interesting and realistic perspectives at various parts of the world. Recently we were on a family vacation to Yercaud, one of the weekend gateways near Bangalore. I started my usual conversation with the cab driver (whom we hired for local sightseeing) by asking some general stuff. While traveling around, I incidentally ended up observing most of the pass-by vehicles having “KA-0x” number plates, which mean they are Bangalore registered vehicles. I couldn’t stop myself but ask the obvious question “How come so many vehicles are from Bangalore?” and the answer he gave was very interesting.
“Bangalore is been the sole reason for Yercaud’s recent growth sir”, he eagerly started and I allowed him to continue. “In the past few years so many people started coming from Bangalore. As the number started increasing, our travel and tourism industry flourished by fetching more and more business. Many of the foreign travelers (who visit Bangalore for business reasons) also started coming here to spend their weekend for getting Indian hill-side experience. In summary Bangalore played major part to grow Yercaud into a bustling tourist destination” cab driver concluded. The high amount of disposable income of global knowledge workers is the key contributing to such growth. It’s very clear – globalization is working!
Also, when I look around, there are umpteen number of blue collar jobs created in the city in form of housekeeping workers, gym assistants, security guards, corporate cab drivers, caterers etc. thanks to the globalization. Even if an individual is reasonably educated (say 10th class) with decent English speaking skills, relatively high end blue collar jobs are available. Recently I saw a job posting (from Taco Bell) for waiters’ position with base pay of 8500 INR per month plus additional benefits like free food, performance linked incentives etc. Making about 10,000 INR for 10th class qualified individual is a big deal in India. It’s heartening to see such positive signs.
On the other hand, there is equally good number of examples which creates counter opinion on the same. Recently I was talking with my close friend who runs an NGO, mainly dealing with abandoned children. As per his field studies, in Bangalore alone 8-10 children desert their homes for various reasons like family issues, anti-social element connections, resource scarcity etc. Over a period of time these children are forced to activities like begging. Taco bell providing jobs to people is definitely good news, but seeing children begging outside the restaurant is not so great news. The more concerning factor is the lack of empathy to such issues from highly paid knowledge workers who seem to wear ego on their shoulders with ‘why should I care?’ attitude. Children who are growing up in high flying apartments and studying in plush schools hardly have any idea about such issues.
The infrastructure story is more horrifying. I am one of the blessed ones to have workplace near home of about 5 kilometers. However the sad part is the sporadic traffic situation. It takes anywhere between 30-45 minutes to commute between my home and workplace. It’s anybody’s guess how the situation would become worse when distance increases within the city. There is no equation between road size, road capacity, number of vehicles purchased, resulting in ever increasing chaotic traffic.
In my opinion, Bangalore is in ‘Half empty, half full’ situation. The amount of issues we are seeing today, even after two decades of globalization shows the incorrect implementation. The overall situation is not showing a very healthy trend. The list of issues is growing faster than the accomplishments of the city. I am not an economist to form theories based on the current situation, but definitely a worried immigrant of this city!