By Chandni Singh and Manish Gautam
Bangalore is one of the fastest growing cities in India, but its growth is marred by social inequalities.
As the fifth largest metropolitan city of India, Bangalore has its own story of growth. Popular for its pleasant climate and numerous gardens and lakes, it is known today as India’s Silicon Valley for its vibrant IT sector which co-exists with other small and medium industries. This photo essay attempts to visually represent the manifestations of development in urban life in and around Bangalore. The city is connected to neighbouring regions through industrial corridors and national highways. Within Bangalore, urban life is heterogeneous; residents include high-income gated communities on one end of the spectrum and resource-constrained slum dwellers at the other end.
This photo essay captures urbanity in two clusters in Bangalore. First, along the National Highway 7, towards south Bangalore, there are two small townships, Electronic City and Bommasandra Industrial Town, representing contrasting modes of urbanisation and governance. Second, residential layouts along Bannerghatta Road are dotted with high-rises and shopping centres that stand out in sharp contrast with a slum situated nearby. We also find that rejuvenation of common property resources such as Madivala lake has changed its access and use, raising questions around who can lay claim to public commons and their ecosystem services.
This first set of photos is a commentary on how urbanisation creates conditions that exclude some sections of the population while privileging others. Using photographs from a scoping field visit within the city of Bangalore in South India, we first contrast two settlements in southern Bangalore – one a highly planned electronic hub with modern amenities and system of independent governance, and the second a peri-urban landscape across the electronic hub that continues to negotiate its rural identity in a fast urbanising context.
In the second set of photographs, we juxtapose slum dwellings and high rise buildings to display inequities in urban living. We also use the example of lake restoration within the city to show how some forms of development may exclude citizens from certain services.
Bangalore city, capital of the state of Karnataka state, is one of the fastest growing cities in India in the past two decades and is an important economic centre in the state. However, similar to other Indian cities, its growth is marred by spatial and income inequalities. According to official estimates, 16.45 per cent of Bangalore’s 8.4 million population live in 597 slums. The urban poor often live in government land though private and railway lands are occupied in some cases. Deprived of basic amenities such as health services, proper sanitation and water access, living in these areas makes people vulnerable to diseases and extreme events and other hazards. The rise of these informal settlements is curtailed through slum clearance (which often denotes slum demolition) with reports of thousands of families being evacuated from their homes in a single night! At the same time, the city has seen an unprecedented rise in construction of private residential enclaves and ‘gated-communities’, often advertised as secure and self-sufficient communities that cater to high-income groups.
This urban dichotomy presents a pressing challenge for city planners. The City Development Plan for Bangalore under the Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JnNURM, GoI 2006) took special notice of these inequities and laid down guidelines for providing basic services to urban poor. However, benefits from JnNURM schemes did not benefit slum dwellers because of inadequate fund allocation and development of plans without consulting stakeholders. Additionally, most schemes are critiqued for worsening existing conditions because they promote resettlement of slum inhabitants to Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) quarters which are often far from livelihood opportunities and lack basic amenities such as access to water and sanitation facilities.
So far, the primary focus of city and state governments has been economic growth and employment creation through large-scale infrastructure development projects. Public policy is skewed in favour of the globalised hi-tech growth sector and does not recognise slums and informal settlements as legitimate parts of the city. Such a model of urban development, characterised by zone-based infrastructural development, intensifies inequity among the rich and the poor in terms of access to services, employment opportunities and development benefits. Existing governance issues such as lack of adequate funds, an understaffed municipal government, overlapping and unclear jurisdictions and lack capacity to tackle existing and emerging urban problems exacerbate Bangalore’s unequal growth trajectory.
Contrasting Locales: Electronic City and Bommasandra Industrial Area
Bangalore Elevated Toll-way is an elevated expressway connecting Bangalore city to Electronic City, a self-governed, industrial and technological hub located to the south of Bangalore.
To enter Electronic City one has to pay a toll at the toll-gate. The City is dominated by leading global and Indian IT companies, some industrial firms, and few residential areas.
The City is governed by ELCITA or Electronic City Industrial Township Authority, an urban local body which is institutionally independent from Bangalore’s Municipal Authority. The well-planned township has excellent infrastructure such as broad paved footpaths, manned traffic signals, clear signage, and well maintained avenues.
Opposite to Electronic City is Bommasandra Industrial Area, which sprawls over both sides of the National Highway 7 (NH-7). Part of the industrial area merges with the Bommasandra village and has poorly developed infrastructure which is in sharp contrast to Electronic City’s. Here roads are unpaved, garbage litters the main roads, street lights are broken, and open drains and manholes are a hazard.
Problems like the lack of solid waste management and unpaved roads are common in Bommasandra village.
Bommasandra village is a rural landscape struggling to negotiate its fast-urbanising boundaries. Typical of villages in India, large, sacred trees sit at street junctions, serving as landmarks and common meeting areas. Cattle, subsistence agriculture, fruit orchards and timber plantations dot the landscape in Bommasandra village.
Negotiating its rural-urban identity, Bommasandra village displays a mix of livelihoods from agriculture and poultry keeping, to engagement in informal sectors such as driving auto rickshaws and recycling waste.
Nearby, the Bommasandra Lake provides water for agricultural purposes. On its periphery, construction of high rise buildings and slum settlements are common. Thus, both through its social systems (personal identify, livelihoods) as well ecological systems (lakes, trees) Bommasandra village is transitioning from the rural to urban.
Separated Spaces: Madiwala lake and surrounding areas
The Madiwala Lake, which was rejuvenated a few years ago, has been developed for recreational purposes like boating and pisciculture. One of the bigger lakes in the city, it is a common recreational space and attracts several migratory birds. However, after the lake was restored, entry is not free, raising the issue of what is accessible to public and to what extent.
Bangalore’s population has grown from 3.2 million in 1992 to 8.4 million in 2009. This has necessitated the rise of a robust real-estate sector in the city. However, outcomes of this increased housing are not equally accessible to all people in the city. While several large-scale high-end gated housing schemes are under development, housing for the city’s poorer migrants remains a challenge.
The growth of Bangalore has resulted in a real-estate boom in the city and its suburbs. But this growth is not inclusive and has deepened existing inequities. It is common to see gated communities with exclusive water and power supply (the high-rise in the background), overlooking slums, which lack basic amenities. As in other burgeoning cities, Bangalore’s growth is excluding a swathe of its population.
In notified slums, the situation is relatively better. Situated on Bannerghatta Road, the slum above had amenities such as a common water filling area and electricity connections in each house. This is in sharp contrast to slums that are not notified and face acute difficulties in accessing basic resources like water and electricity.
Not only do conditions in slums differ vastly from those in high-rise buildings but even the daily act of living manifests itself differently in the two locations. During our visit at midday on a working day, children played on the streets, with bits and baubles taken from the garbage strewn around them. Nearby, dogs and stray cattle fed on refuse. This sharply contrasts with manicured lawns and uniformed guards around gated communities.
A typical notified slum has narrow streets and one-room houses in haphazard rows. Cramped and small, these quarters are kitchen, bedroom, storage space all rolled into one. Women washed clothes and utensils in poorly drained streets. Though every city has its inequities, in India, while the rich and poor try to live separated, they continue to live side by side.
Map of Bangalore with sites visited marked.
Photo credits: Manish Gautam, Chandni Singh, Massimo Ingegno, Shashikala
This article was originally published on the Asia and The Pacific Policy Society website.
We all are emotionally attached to a city we grow up in. Be it a small village or a big metro city, our home town always remains close to our heart. And then there comes a place which embraces one and all; the expats, migrants, people from other cities and of course those who belong here.
When I first moved to Bangalore, I was lost. Literally! it took me at least 30 minutes to get out of Cubbon Park. The traffic, autowalas and long distances, I hated it all and couldn’t wait to go back to my city. But just in two years, the city has become a close part of my life. The first lunch at MTR and shopping at commercial street. From “Kannada gothilla”(I don’t know Kannada) to “nanu Kannada kalita-iddini” (I can speak Kannada), I have traveled a long way!
From a long walk in Cubbon Park to hundreds of cafes, from trails of trees everywhere to the amazing weather, you can’t help falling in love with the city. So, here is the list of 15 things that we all absolutely love about Bangalore-
1. The huge lung spaces – you have not seen it all if you are out of Cubbon Park in an hour
If we are talking about The Garden City then it is impossible to skip the huge lung spaces like Cubbon Park spread across 100 acres of area with various species of plants and trees.
Lalbagh! Have you been to the flower show? It houses India’s largest collection of tropical plants.
Bannerghatta National Park – this 25,000 acre park is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Bangalore.
No matter where you live, you will always be close to nature!
2. The incredible bus service – Yes, Majestic is not a mall but it still gets huge footfalls!
BMTC buses carry 43 lakh passengers every day. The Volvo is all you need to travel in a hot summer day and Vayu Vajra will make sure you never miss a flight! (To know more about bus schedules, visit their website: mybmtc.com)
3. The world’s best Dosa at MTR/CTR/Vidyarthi Bhavan
Well, you have to go and experience that yourself!
4. A lot happens over a cup of coffee or filter kaapi
Bangalore is no doubt the birthplace of Coffee Days. With at least one CCD at every corner of the street, you will never have to look for hangout places in Bangalore.
But it is still the wafting aroma of piping hot filter kaapi that drives us crazy. And nothing can beat the value of the “by2” coffee, where you get almost 2 cups for the price of 1! Hatti Kaapi offers a hot cup of South indian coffee at just Rs. 8
5. It is not just dance, it is the way of life
Karnataka has always been rich when it comes to dance and music. Most of the girlsknow at least one dance form since their childhood.
Visit Nrityagram Dance Village for a never seen before experience. Set up by Protima Bedi, this place is a different world of its own. The residential school offers training in Indian classical dance forms – including Odissi, Mohiniattam, Kathak, Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi, Kathakali and Manipuri.
6. One of those few cities to keep theater alive
Yes, we are talking about Ranga Shankara. It promotes theater in all languages. The stage has seen over 2,700 performances so far.
But that’s not the only venue for catching a live performance. There are also Jagruti Theatre, Chowdiah Memorial Hall, Ravindra Kala Kshetra, etc.
7. Yes. We take health very seriously!
Bangalore has a huge inclination towards organic living. With organic hang out joints like The Yoga House and Carrot’s Healthy Kitchen, and organic shopping options ranging from clothes to food and cosmetics, Bangalore knows its way to healthy living.
8. The richly painted city walls
This probably would be the first thing you’ll notice as you walk around on the streets of Bangalore. The beautiful wall paintings give a small insight on the rich heritage and culture of Bangalore along with providing employment to various artists.
9. A walk down Brigade Road will let you know how inclusive the city is
From a young crowd of students from north India to a group of foreigners who are working here for a couple of years now. From west to north east Indians, Bangalore has a place for all.
Bangalore is truly cosmopolitan with around 48% Kannadigas, 25% Tamilians, 14% Telugites, 10% Keralites, 8% Europeans, and 6% a mixture of all races. (Source)
10. We value our public spaces and make sure they look good
An example is the MG Road Boulevard, which is the lifeline of the road. With play zones for children, snake and ladders game and over 1,000 saplings of various kinds, the boulevard will capture your hearts.
11. Ancient monuments right under your nose
How many of you knew that the oldest temple of Bangalore is located right in the center of the city, close to your house? Chokkanathaswamy temple, at Domlur is considered to be the oldest temple in Bangalore. You don’t need to travel miles to enjoy the heritage of the city.
In addition to this, there is Tipu Sultan’s summer palace, the old fort at Devanahalli, a couple of pre-historic sites at Chikkajala, Hejjala and Savanadurga, the Bangalore Palace, etc.
12. Women feel safer here than in most other cities in India
I can go out for dinner with my girlfriends at any time without having a constant fear of being raped unlike some other cities. With women opting for unconventional careers like bus conductors and even drivers, Bangalore is much more advanced when it comes to women empowerment.
13. Technology and StartUp Hub
Besides being the birthplace of most IT giants like Infosys, Wipro, TCS, etc, Bangalore is also a hub of new and exciting startups like Flipkart, InMobi, Myntra, etc. You see people sitting around anywhere and everywhere passionately discussing new ideas. Maybe that’s why there are so many cafes!
14. Bangalore Aero Show
Every 2 years, Bangaloreans are treated to a visual spectacle as a host of combat and civilian aircrafts from around the world showcase their prowess in the skies. Held at the Yelahanka Air Force Base, don’t miss the next one in 2015!
15. We work hard and party harder
Did you know Bangalore has the highest number of Pubs in Asia? (Source) Yes, they used to close at 11pm sometime back, but now they’re open till 1am! So 3 cheers to the weekends!
16. And in the morning, we flock to the hole-in-the-wall eating joints which are legendary
Who hasn’t relished the softest idlis, the heavenly upma and delectable kesari bath at Brahmin’s cafe, Veena Stores, Janatha hotel, etc? Or walked down eat street (VV Puram) for some of the season’s best fare.
17. Stating the obvious- weather, of course!
Don’t even get me started with that. When the rest of the country is trying to figure out ways to escape from the brutal heat, Bangaloreans are busy enjoying a walk in the drizzle and the cool weather in the night. And yes, it is the same throughout the year. Jealous enough?
This weekend, leave your houses and enjoy the beauty of the city! Do you know something awesome about Bangalore that should be included in the list? Leave your inputs in the comments below or write to us at- email@example.com
Thank you for your inputs on Twitter: @subeer, @rajwaghray, @anuradhagoyal, @digi_catalyst, @silverlightgal, @shivya, @kaapikudi, @Pallavisms, @mehulmatrix, @blinkandmiss, @djoiiii, @satishv1987, @vijeet_rathi
Featured Photo Source: ILoveBengaluru/Coffee
Also Read: Why Panjim’s Unique Vibe Makes It an Indian City Unlike Any Other!
About the Author: Born with a hobby to travel, talk, express and write, Shreya gets to do all of that and is even paid for it! Interested in rural development and social issues, she dreams of actually bringing a change in society and writing a book of her own one day. When she is not preaching others about a better India she is busy watching movies and playing video games. Follow her on twitter: @shreya08
Love reading positive news? Help The Better India grow
Support our endeavor to become every Indian's source of daily inspiring positive news. Learn more.