Bangalore: Rags and Riches, Thriving Private Sector and Failing Municipality

I was in Bangalore, India, last week.

Bangalore is a very intriguing city, where high-end luxury thrives right next to extreme levels of poverty. Where a US educated surgeon operates in a hospital that supplies its own electricity. Where luxury suburban communities are isolated and segregated, supplying their own local amenities — theater, restaurant, swimming pool, temple — and local infrastructure — security and roads.

Bangalore suggests that in India the private sector succeeds despite extremely weak governance processes — corruption is rife, construction is slow. Despite such hurdles, pristine malls emerge in neighborhoods where no proper road is maintained.

Infosys, the Indian IT giant, is actually located outside the city, in Electronic City. It has set up its own set of infrastructures — including electricity supply.

Bangalore’s population is exploding (+65% in the last 10 years, +23% in the 1990s), but the municipality struggles tremendously to adjust its supply of public goods to population levels.

Population growth led to a hard-to-manage urban sprawl, where rural migrants and educated middle-class Indians settle, hungry for jobs. Nevertheless, without proper infrastructure management, the future of Bangalore as a thriving business center is at stake.