Becoming silicon valley


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DURING the last twenty years, the concept of world or global cities has provided an intellectual framework that links urbanization to political economy. Beginning as an ‘hypothesis’ or an ‘agenda for action’ (Friedmann and Wolff 1982; Friedmann 1986), the global cities approach rests on a core-periphery model that allows linkages with world systems theory and the radical critiques of dependency theorists while retaining a robustness that preserves its relevance within a period of hegemonic neoliberalism.

The approach begins with the postulate that global patterns of capital accumulation are important factors that determine the structure and growth of urban sites, which become bases for production and markets in a hierarchical network of interlinked spaces. At the highest level of the global hierarchy are three cities – London, New York, and Tokyo – supporting the largest concentrations of organizations that coordinate the flow of capital throughout the world. Financial, insurance, and real estate organizations aggregate in these cities because of the high quality of telematics infrastructure and the ready availability of producer services such as consulting agencies, advertising and accounting firms that support decision making and communication for transnational corporations.

While other cities may demonstrate the characteristics of these truly world cities, they remain at a second level within the global urban hierarchy, specializing in particular types of coordinating functions. One example is Hong Kong, serving as a financial centre oriented specifically toward the Chinese economy; another example is Washington DC, serving as the node for articulation of the national and international economy with the state and its military apparatus (Sassen 1991, 1994, 1999). Lower levels in the urban hierarchy (e.g. Denver, Colorado in the United States, Madurai in India) provide central place services for smaller hinterlands, supporting regional and local organizations that link finance and production to the global system.

Since the 1970s, states have withdrawn the protective barriers shielding national economies from the flows of capital that the global city mediates, moving instead toward roles as infrastructure providers and guarantors of social reproduction adequate to provide trained workforce. Because investments require specialized labour and control of externalities to guarantee profitability, the issue of agency re-emerges at the regional and local levels during negotiations with global capital, and questions of basic needs and empowerment retain their salience for theories of development (Friedmann 1992; OECD 1997). Increasing income disparities and massive migrations toward the cities and between nations accompany the rise of the global city. The privatization of public space and the gated community provide stark contrasts to the life on the streets and the immiserization of larger masses of the urban poor.



Science and technology play their roles in the globalization of cities through innovations in telematics and in the production process within the spaces that Castells and Hall (1994) have called ‘milieux of innovation’. These are urban forms evolving since the 19th century where a concentration of research and industrial development establishments generate next-generation innovations using advanced electronics (Hall and Preston 1988).

Emerging either from market-driven product development or from state-sponsored projects, manifested as sprawling agglomeration of private enterprises or as industrial parks, these urban spaces become planned or unplanned cities employing thousands of highly paid specialists and generating thousands more of semi-skilled factory jobs. The ideal type is California’s Silicon Valley, originating in the 1940s as a series of spin-offs from research projects originating in Stanford University, benefiting from U.S. military contracts during the Cold War, and exploding during the microcomputer and software revolutions beginning in the late 1970s.

Castells (1996) develops a more extended argument that places an ‘information technology paradigm’ at the heart of a new stage in capitalist development, an ‘informational economy’ in which the ‘space of flows’ drives the creation of post-Fordist network enterprises. In this model, the combination of technological innovation bubbling up in technopoles, along with the accumulation strategies of transnational corporations generated in the corporate headquarters of the global city, drive economic development and the most massive population shifts in history (Carnoy et al. 1993). Castells and Hall generate policy guidelines for cultivating technopoles, for what city would not want to become a milieu of innovation in the information age? What city would not want to become the next Silicon Valley?



The city of Bangalore gained an international reputation during the 1990s as ‘India’s Silicon Valley’ based on a concentration of firms specializing in research and development, electronics and software production. The appearance of this reputation occurred at a moment in time when the Indian economy underwent a major foreign exchange crisis and the transition to a period of liberalisation, involving a fundamental shift away from the ‘Nehruvian’ model of state-directed industrialization.

Historically, few cities in India could rival Bangalore’s commitment to this older model. Beginning with the interventions of the princely state of Mysore under Mokshagundam Visveswaraya (1860-1962), whose motto was ‘industrialize or perish’, and continuing during the 1940s and 1950s through massive investments in public-sector enterprises around the city, Bangalore became for Nehru the ‘city of the future’.

The Indian Institute of Science (founded in 1911), combined with a wide range of central government investments in research and technology establishments such as the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO, founded in 1972), gave Bangalore the image of a ‘science city’. After the consolidation of the state of Karnataka in the 1960s, with its motto ‘Government work is God’s work’, Bangalore as state capital witnessed a massive expansion of public employment and the service sector, typical markers of the transition toward the information society (Duff 2000).



All of these changes occurred within an urban environment long famous as the ‘garden city’ because of horticultural activities taking place amid dozens of artificial lakes. By 1991, when the population of Bangalore urban district reached 4,839,162 and the population of the surrounding Bangalore rural district reached 1,673,194, environmental degradation was tarnishing the city’s green image and its role as a ‘pensioner’s paradise’ (Census of India 1991: 102, 122, 156; City Profile of Bangalore), but nothing was impeding the demographic expansion of the nation’s sixth largest metropolis, projected to reach a population of seven million in 2011 (BDA 2000).

If we accept the global city discourse, the movement of Bangalore toward the ‘next stage’ in its development, through a transition from an industrial district toward the informational city, may appear as a natural process. In a city already overloaded with self-representations, however, we may ask whether Bangalore actually exhibited the characteristics of a milieu of innovation in telematics, and how its reputation as a Silicon Valley originated and spread.

Let us spend a few moments examining the economy of the Bangalore region during the crucial moment of its transition to India’s Silicon Valley. We can begin by observing patterns of capital investment and employment for large scale and small scale industries in the early 1990s (see table).1 Within the industrial scenario in Bangalore urban district, we note the dominance of specific sectors and firms:

1. The most capital intensive sector was large scale production of chemicals, although the number of workers employed in large chemical plants (less than 5,000) was not huge. Within the small scale chemical industries, capital investment was relatively low while the number of employees (more than 10,000) was impressive. The statistics here reflect a technologically advanced sector producing synthetic chemicals for other industrial sectors, alongside a large number of people in small firms using manual techniques to produce incense (agarbathy), a longtime speciality of this region.

2. The second largest sector by capital investment, labelled here as ‘automotive and transport’, mostly expresses the impact of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), which alone had invested Rs 35,293 lakh ($137 million) and employed 42,389 persons – by far the largest firm in the region. Firms specializing in ground transport included the Motor Industries Company (6,344 employees), International Instruments (1,330 employees), and Amco Batteries Limited (1,310 employees). The combination of these four large firms accounted for 86% of employment within this industrial category.

3. The next largest sector was electronics, which included several large firms such as Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL, with 14,000 employees), Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL, with 4,300 employees in two divisions) and Indian Telephone Industries (ITI, with more than 16,000 employees). It also included a wide range of medium and small firms producing components used by the larger companies in the metropolitan region and by customers throughout the country. The combined employment in this sector within Bangalore urban district topped 76,000. We may note, however, that firms specializing in computers and peripherals represented a capital investment of Rs 2,500 lakh ($9.7 million) and employment of only 1,672 persons, while software firms represented investment of Rs 2,769 lakh ($10.7 million) and employment of only 947 persons. The ‘Silicon Valley’ characteristics of the economy thus remained minimal in 1991.

4. In theory, one might differentiate the electronics industry from the electrical industry, which included large firms such as National Government Electric Factory (NGEF Limited, with 6,500 employees), Kirloskar Electric Company (4,000 employees), Mysore Lamp Works (1,418 employees) and Mysore Electrical Industries (1,368 employees). In practice, the boundaries between the fields were permeable, and if we combine all sizes of companies, we find employment in electrical/electronics firms amounting to over 114,000, making them the largest source of production jobs in the metropolitan region.

5. The category of engineering and manufacturing firms included the various divisions of Hindustan Machine Tools (HMT), including its several watch factories, employing 8,371 persons. It also included a wide range of medium and small scale industries producing everything from tools and components to finished consumer goods. A large number of small shops that employed less than 10 persons utilizing power-driven turning and finishing tools contributed to a manufacturing work force of 43,000. If we add to these enterprises the large number of firms specializing in metal and metal products, we arrive at a total of more than 55,000 workers in this heart of the industrial economy.

6. The earlier history of the city had witnessed the importance of textile manufacturing, initially through manual methods and later through large power-driven plants that led the region into the modern manufacturing economy during the early 20th century (Pani et al., 1985). The later installation of the large public sector enterprises noted above seemed to have reduced the importance of textiles in Bangalore’s economy, as expressed in the smaller amount of capital embedded within textile enterprises (Rs 15,329 lakh, or only 6% of total industrial investment).



Textiles appear differently, however, when we consider employment. There were still several large factories within the city, including Bangalore Cotton and Woollen and Silk Mills (Binny Mills, employing 4,691) and Mysore Spinning and Manufacturing Mills (employing 3,887), along with a number of medium sized enterprises. The majority of textile labourers, however, worked for firms employing only a few persons, using either manual methods or power looms often installed in residences, with many enterprises specializing in the processing of silk. In some parts of the city one could walk by house after house and hear the sound of power looms in the living rooms. The combination of large, medium and small scale firms employed a total of over 79,000 persons, or the largest work force in a single industrial category.

7. The final large component of the urban industrial economy comprised a large number of firms specializing in food and beverages. This category included an often overlooked feature of Bangalore’s economy, the presence of firms producing alcoholic beverages, including United Breweries (UB), producers of Kingfisher beer.



The employment situation in Bangalore rural district mirrored a concentration in agricultural pursuits. The industrial work force in all seven rural taluks amounted to 27,444, or only 7% of the work force in the metropolitan region. Although some mid-sized plants were important in the sectors of chemicals, engineering and manufacturing, and textiles, almost six times as many workers found employment in small scale enterprises than in large or medium-scale enterprises. Textiles employed the largest numbers in Bangalore rural district. Of particular importance, especially in Ramanagaram taluk, were hundreds of silk production firms, many of them family operations, which provided the raw or semi-processed materials that underwent additional processing in the small scale textile industries within the urban district.

The generally non-industrialized character of the rural areas was even more noticeable in Malur taluk, where only one medium scale firm was operating and where total industrial employment was around 3,000 persons. Here firms specializing in building materials, including lumber mills and a number of brick factories, employed almost half of the workers. The electrical and electronics industries, even small firms, were nearly absent in the rural areas.

Hosur taluk, just across the Tamil Nadu state border, was the special case of a rural area that benefited from its proximity to Bangalore by supporting a sizable industrial economy. The most important change agents in Hosur were the State Industries Promotion Corporation of Tamilnadu (SIPCOT), which specialized in transforming ‘backward and underdeveloped areas to become important industrial hubs of the state’ through the establishment of industrial parks and the attraction of large and medium scale industries, and the Small Industries Development Corporation (SIDCO), established in 1970 to provide similar services for small scale industries.



The SIPCOT Industrial Complex in Hosur, positioned next to the state line, stretched over 1,236 acres allotted to 144 units, while the nearby SIDCO Industrial Estate housed 160 units. In the early 1990s the majority of large enterprises in Hosur taluk found a home in the SIPCOT estate. The most important firms in the automotive and transport sector were Ashok Leyland, with a capital investment of Rs 20,240 lakh ($65 million) and employing 2,493 workers in the production of parts for motor vehicles, and T.V.S. Suzuki, with a capital investment of Rs 2,304 lakh ($7.5 million) and employing 1,400 workers in their moped division. If we include this industrial sector from Hosur in the regional economic mix, it becomes apparent that the automotive and transport sector was the most capital intensive and the second largest employer in the Bangalore metropolitan region.

Among engineering and manufacturing firms, the most significant was Titan Industries, with an investment of Rs 14,675 lakh ($47 million) and employing 3,054 workers in watch production. One of the special features of Hosur, however, was the large number of single room operations centring on turning and grinding equipment and specializing in the production of metal, rubber and plastic components for larger engineering firms, automotive and electrical/electronics outsourcers. Startups in this type of business constituted by far the largest number in Hosur taluk during the early 1990s.



The output from the firms in the industrial estates and within these newer small firms supported the output of the units within the SIPCOT and SIDCO complexes, but a large amount of production flowed to enterprises in and around Bangalore. In fact, a number of the operations in Hosur traced ownership to offices with Bangalore addresses. A bus ride on Hosur road at any time of the day revealed thousands of blue collar and service workers commuting across the state line in both directions. The result was a massive and rapid expansion of the old town of Hosur, with a population of 42,187 according to the 1991 census but an estimated 150,000 people by the end of the 1990s. Like so many emerging cities on the peripheries of Indian metropolitan regions, Hosur had the appearance of a frontier settlement, with intense activity that was over-running its limited infrastructure.2

A study in 1993 by P. Thippaiah on informal employment in the Bangalore region warns of too great a reliance on industrial statistics in the characterization of Bangalore’s economy. His work revealed that the informal sector provided more jobs than all other employment categories, and that the percentage of employment in the informal sector was continually increasing until the early 1990s.



In Bangalore urban agglomeration, the share of the informal sector in 1971 was between 50% and 60% of the work force, but by 1991, its share was between 65% and 72%. The majority of jobs reported in the author’s surveys were in ‘self-employment’ activities. Nearly 61% of enterprises procured raw materials from other informal establishments, demonstrating strong backward linkages, while 71% of these units sold their products to the informal sector (21% sold to non-governmental organizations).

Personal job histories also suggested that there was little mobility between formal and informal sectors. Less than 30% of entrepreneurs had borrowed from commercial or co-operative banks or from government departments, the majority relying on their families or on moneylenders charging interest between 60 and 120% annually. Most persons responding to his survey were members of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes (Thippaiah 1993: 116-19, 225, 267, 272-75, 297-319).

Within this informal sector, child labour played a not inconsiderable role. The survey conducted in the mid-1980s including 1,255 households from six notified slums in the city of Bangalore indicated that out of the 612 children between six and fourteen years of age, 325 (53%) were working. They laboured as coolies, factory workers, domestic servants, rollers of incense sticks, mechanics, assistants, shop assistants, hotel workers, sweepers, rag pickers, tailors, carpenters, and cigarette rollers, typically earning less than Rs 100 per week yet contributing 19% of their families’ income.

Thirty-six per cent of the child workers had dropped out of school and 25% had never attended; the majority had no interest in ever attending again. Workweeks of six or seven days were the rule for 89% of these children (Krishnakumari 1985). A Times of India study in 1999 indicated that there were 60,000 children, almost all males, working on the streets in Bangalore, engaging in rag picking, vending, hauling, rolling incense sticks, and in the hotel industry (City Profile of Bangalore).

The picture emerging in the 1990s from these two types of inquiry – massive employment in industrial factories and small finishing shops, an important textile complex including handloom production, an electronics industry with only a small proportion moving into computer systems, and a giant informal sector featuring extensive child labour – hardly fits the frame of a telematics based milieu of innovation corresponding to Silicon Valley. Yet it was precisely in the early 1990s that the Silicon Valley image began to circulate in national and transnational circles. A discussion of the appropriation of this concept by organizations in Bangalore may illuminate the relationship between the construct of the global city and models of planning and industry.



In 1976, the Government of Karnataka’s Ministry of Medium and Large Industries moved to expand the electronics industry in the state according to the public planning model, establishing the Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation (KEONICS) with a separate board of directors and equity inserted annually by the state government. The new corporation entered directly into production, setting up its own plants and operating joint sector projects with Indian and foreign industrial houses, promoting private enterprises through marketing support, and running manpower training centres.

Its most important project was the establishment in 1977 of the scheme for a new industrial park called Electronics City on 335 acres about 18 kilometres south of Bangalore. Among the 90 organizations present on the Electronics City campus in the early 1990s, public sector units were responsible for about one-third of the external investment, with the largest plot taken by Indian Telephone Industries. Most of the projects pursued in the Electronics City plants focused on import substitution, testing and manufacturing.



During the 1980s, led by Wipro and Infosys, a number of private enterprises specializing in computer systems and software production began to emerge in Bangalore, founded by managers with technology expertise in India’s public sector enterprises or in foreign firms, typically in the United States or Europe. These new firms supplemented their turnover from the developing microcomputer market in India with ‘body shopping’ for foreign companies, earning a transnational reputation for quality services at low cost. Their operations began to go online in 1987, when INTELSAT Business Service offered the possibility of sending messages at 64 kbps for organizations that could maintain a ground station and software.

The US-based Texas Instruments established an agreement with India’s Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) that made possible the first ‘offshore’ software production centre in the city (Singhal and Rogers 1989; Heitzman 1999). Texas Instruments obtained ground station equipment and software and transferred them to VSNL, which maintained the facility with bandwidth up to 256 kbps. Signals went through satellite to a station in Beford, UK, and then the United States.



Two years later, VSNL set up a second ground station for the exclusive use of ISRO, which maintained and operated it. There was a plan to install a similar ground station for the Aeronautical Development Authority, a defence agency working on the light commercial vehicle in consultation with British Aerospace (BAE). This third ground station became operational after Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) utilized it at 128 kbps for a new software consortium (BAE-HAL) in 1991.3

Looking at these changes in organizational capacity, market demand, and technological feasibility, the Department of Electronics (DOE) developed the Software Technology Park (STP) scheme designed to attract offshore software production houses and 100% export oriented units to government managed facilities offering broadband communication networks, reliable infrastructure, tax breaks, and tariff-free imports of equipment. DOE decided to establish one of its initial six STPs4 on the campus of Electronics City in Bangalore, renting space in a building constructed by the Karnataka State Department of Small Scale Industries.

The STP acquired Bangalore’s fourth ground station in 1992, which VSNL operated and maintained with bandwidth of 64 kbps. STP’s broadband communication system called SoftNET, first established in Bangalore, offered international leased lines, email, video conferencing, and shared internet service. The network operations centre with uplink facilities allowed contact to Amsterdam, and from there to European addresses or through optical cable to Washington DC. An Ethernet local area network allowed access for companies on campus through a fibre optic backbone, while companies elsewhere in the Bangalore region accessed the network through dial-up or through microwave.5



Although it regularly operated at a loss, KEONICS continued to bill itself as ‘spearheading the electronics revolution in Karnataka’, and began to re-conceive publicity for the Electronics City project within the context of a telematics revolution. While its tenants regularly complained about poor roads, power and water supply, KEONICS claimed initially that the title of ‘Silicon Valley of India’ belonged in particular to the Electronics City campus.6 As its publicity campaign evolved, the term began to expand to include Bangalore as a whole.

As part of its promotion materials, KEONICS distributed a reprint of articles from Plus: The Total Computer Magazine with a cover story entitled ‘Can Bangalore Become India’s Silicon Valley?’ The publication presented regular references to 1987 studies of the city funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) that favourably evaluated the capacity of Bangalore to become a high technology centre in a model similar to Silicon Valley, offering opportunities for expanding Indo-U.S. business contacts.7 The publication also presented interviews conducted with professionals from the Indian electronics industry, revealing the combination of hopes for future intervention by the government, enthusiasm for the future tempered by realism, and blatant boosterism.



Selected quotes from these interviews included the following: If the Centre looks at Bangalore to be made into Silicon Valley, it would certainly become the Silicon Valley; If you are talking of a Silicon Valley kind of atmosphere, then Bangalore already has it, but if you are talking of a product a day, then we are far from it; Bangalore is certainly emerging as a software and R&D subcontracting centre for multinationals; It is not an unreasonable comparison to make between Bangalore city and Silicon Valley; Bangalore has the ingredients to become Silicon Valley... It is probably the only city in India that could become one.



The success of the STP scheme led to a private initiative called the Information Technology Park, ‘the first such development in India’, which was a joint collaboration between the state government and private enterprise from India and Singapore.8 The original idea for this project emerged during a meeting in 1992 between Indian Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao and Singapore Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.

During the following year members of the Tata Group conferred with colleagues in Singapore, leading to a joint proposal to the Government of Karnataka in July 1993. This resulted in the official launching ceremony of the project in January 1994 as a Rs 1,200 crore ($665 million) construction scheme involving Tata Industries Limited (contributing 40%), a consortium of six Singapore companies called Information Technology Park PTE Limited (contributing 40%),9 and the Karnataka Industrial Areas Development Board, which contributed 20% through 55 acres of land in the Whitefield Industrial Area east of Bangalore. Expected turnover from the project was projected at Rs 2,000 crore ($1.1 billion), with about half coming from exports, and direct employment generated by the project was estimated at 17,000.

The Department of Telecommunications provided a dedicated telephone exchange to the park, initially for 1,000 lines but expandable to 10,000 lines, while VSNL arranged access to international digital leased lines, email and video conferencing through Bangalore’s fifth ground station. The campus aspired to be a self-contained world ‘maintained to an international standard. A professional management team will provide an efficient service to ensure that all occupants will enjoy the highest level of comfort living and working within the Park’ (ITP 1997: 17).



Construction began in early 1995. Within four years, the park had achieved 60% occupancy and work began on the residential towers, with a 15-person team in Singapore and India aggressively marketing the project. The official inauguration of the park in January 2000 by Goh Chok Tong took place amid self congratulatory statements on ‘the towering icon of the good relations that Singapore enjoys with India.’ To celebrate the auspicious occasion, the signing of 28 new agreements brought the park to 75% occupancy.10

The promotional video prepared by the marketing team, which I viewed at the park in 1997, unabashedly pushed the Silicon Valley of India image, with its theme ‘the future is here’. According to the video, there was no shortage of excellent, cheap labour for software development. There were interviews with recent graduates of technical schools who were ready to work for $400 per month, and interviews with children who were eager to go into the computer field.

The connection with world-class research and educational institutions was explicit: ‘Students in Bangalore grow up in a unique educational environment... in the shadow of the Indian Institute of Science.’ At the same time, Indian entrepreneurs and expatriates alike could enjoy ‘a sophisticated corporate image... located in the green belt of Bangalore,’ complete with international schools, ‘two international championship 18-hole golf courses,’ private clubs with a colonial ambience, and Bangalore’s pub scene. The video summed up the transnational vision:

Indeed, Bangalore offers all the comforts and conveniences of city life in a Garden City, one that expatriates can easily adjust to and thoroughly enjoy. Thus, it is no coincidence that so many multinational companies have chosen to locate their businesses in Bangalore, and Indians dream of working and living here.



Since the early 20th century, Bangalore has lived on its dreams. In the modernist vision of the industrial and science city, the future lay in research, development, applied technology, and planning. In the garden environment, the new middle class and retired pensioners could enjoy their suburban homes in close proximity to the cathedrals of production. The state was the comfortable matrix, and often the direct employer, of the managerial or apparatchik groups that really did benefit from this construction of global modernism that they shared with colleagues throughout the nation and internationally.

By the 1980s, of course, the mantle of modernity was a bit threadbare, not least because people were overrunning the city – urchins without shoes, immigrants with children who had to work, the underemployed in hundreds of slums, and religious rioters battling on the streets. The state was running out of money, the public sector could not innovate fast enough, national sovereignty was under threat from transnational financial institutions.



On the horizon appeared the concept of globalization, originating within the critique of late capitalism but now adaptable as an ideology of capitalism moving into a new phase. What identity could the city claim within this new dispensation? The concept of the technopole provided the ideal template for the city of the future, an informational city where trained experts and managers generated new employment within environmentally friendly campuses. Thus Silicon Valley became the dream of the technologists in Bangalore as it had become the dream of technologists throughout the world, and the state allied with private initiatives to promote a new identity for a garden city that, unfortunately, had lost most of its gardens.

We note in passing the important roles played by foreigners in the ideological shift, but it would be facile and futile to see the shift as a cultural imposition from the outside. Local players were quite avid in identifying a language that allowed the rationalization of a liberal economic agenda, exercising their agency in the crafting of a new suburban space.

The examination of Bangalore’s economic structure in the early 1990s demonstrates that the city resembled Silicon Valley less than it did a classic Marshallian industrial district, a situation identified by Markussen and her associates as typical of the second tier city (Markussen et al. 1999). The formal economy still revolved around a number of large public sector enterprises that were increasingly oriented toward projects involving transnational corporations.



This economy supported specialization in aerospace and ground transport (embodying hi-tech and mature technologies with plenty of transnational connections), ‘smokestack’ industries, automated and non-automated textile production (increasingly oriented toward export), and an electronics sector that was not directed specifically toward telematics. The formal economy of Bangalore demonstrated, in fact, a remarkable balance among a variety of industrial sectors.

The massive informal economy, on the other hand, was steadily growing and exerting intense pressure on social services, public space, and the environment. Perhaps it is here, in the grotesque distancing of the information economy and the gated urban enclave from the barefoot boys cleaning dishes behind the tea stalls, that we see the mark of the global, and the resemblance of Bangalore to other world cities.


The Industrial Structure of the Bangalore Metropolitan Region: Capital Investment in Lakh (100,000) and Employment


Bangalore Urban District

Bangalore Rural District

Malur Taluk

Hosur Taluk


Large Scale

Small Scale

Large Scale

Small Scale

All Industries

Large Scale

Small Scale

Industrial Sector















Automotive and transport














Building materials


















































Engineering and manufacturing















Food and beverages















Glass and ceramics












Leather and leather products













Metal and metal products















Printing and stationery














Repairs and servicing












Rubber and plastics






























Wood and wood products







































Sources: Bangalore Urban District Industrial Directory. Bangalore: General Manager, District Industries Centre, Bangalore Rural District, 1991; Bangalore Urban District Industrial Directory. Bangalore: General Manager, District Industries Centre, Bangalore Urban District, 1991; Kolar District Industrial Directory. General Manager, District Industries Centre, Kolar, 1993; ‘Directory of Existing (Pemanent/Final) Category of Small Scale Industrial Units Registered as on 31-12-1987 in Dharmapuri District’; ‘Directory of Non-SSI (Large Scale Industries) as on 31-3-93’; ‘Register of Small Scale Industries in Hosur Taluk 1988-1990’, Dharmapuri: District Industries Centre.



1. The data set for Table 1 covers the metropolitan region as defined by the Bangalore Metropolitan Region Development Authority, with Bangalore Urban District (here including Bangalore City Corporation), the surrounding Bangalore Rural District, and Malur Taluk in Kolar District to the east. It also covers Hosur Taluk to the south in neighboring Tamil Nadu state, which rarely featured publicly in planning discourse within Bangalore, but nonetheless played a major supporting role in the regional economy. The data presented in Table 1 are unreliable in the following ways: (i) The figures were self-reported by the industrial organizations, with little quality control by the district industries centres that compiled industrial directories. Records for individual firms might contain gaps, outdated figures, and outright fabrications. (ii) The databases compiled by the district industries centres were full of transcription errors, compounded by numerous typographical errors in published compilations. (iii) Figures for capital investment were sums of figures for investment in capital equipment and investment in land. It is uncertain that these data adequately represent the scale of a business or its impact on the social environment. (iv) The categorization of a firm within a particular industrial sector presents another series of problems connected with the perceptions of the business, the clerks at the industrial centres, and myself the investigator. The unreliability of these statistics occurs on so many cross-cutting levels that they may provide an accurate view of the relative sizes of different industrial sectors.

2. For the government agencies behind the industrial parks in Hosur, see http://intamm. com/industry/agencies/sipcot.htm;; http://www. For a booster’s view of Hosur, see

3. Information for this paragraph comes from an interview with L. Satyanarayana, Deputy General Manager, Customer Relations, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., Madras, 12 November 1994; interview with R.S. Kadyan, Engineer-in-Chief, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd., Bangalore, 5 December 1994; and interviews with several anonymous members of Bangalore’s VSNL staff on 9 August 1999.

4. The other original locations were in Hyderabad, Gandhinagar (Ahmedabad in Gujarat), Tiruvanantapuram (Kerala), Noida (Delhi), Pune, and Bhubaneswar.

5. Sources for this section include STP 1994; STPI 1994; and interviews at the Software Technology Park, Electronic City, 21 August 1994. See STP-Bangalore’s web pages at

6. Sources for this section include KEONICS 1988, 1990a, 1990b, 1994; List of Land Allottees in Electronics City (typed list provided by KEONICS, August 1994); and an interview with Kulkarni, Director of KEONICS, 10 August 1994.

7. In preparation for a three day Workshop on Technology Development, Finance and Human Resources held in Bangalore in 1987, USAID commissioned a number of studies on the institutional resources within Karnataka, and within the Bangalore region in particular (Dr Rao Associates 1987a, 1987b; SRI International 1987; Arthur D. Little, Inc.; Campbell and Wicksteed, 1987). The workshop prompted the establishment in 1988 of the Centre for Technology Development (CTD), a non-profit organization for the promotion of science and technology development. A number of its projects subsequently received funding from USAID, and it published a report (CTD 1989) summarizing USAID’s position on Bangalore’s potential in software, telecommunications, computers, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, transport, food processing, chemicals, machine tools and materials.

8. Sources for this paragraph include Krishnaprasad 1996; ITP 1997; Junction: A Quarterly Review of the International Tech Park, Bangalore (February 1997, May 1997); interview with Sukumar Mohan, Manager, Customer Services, International Technology Park – Bangalore, 7 July 1997.

9. The six groups included Technology Parks, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Jurong Town Corporation, the largest industrial estate developer in Singapore, and owner of the Singapore Science Park; Sembawang Industrial, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Sembawang Group of Companies specializing in engineering contracting; Parameswara Holdings, an investment company; L&M and RSP Architects Planners and Engineers, two engineering and construction consultancies (KIADB 1995: 10-11).

10. The marketing team was a joint venture between Sembawang and Arcasia Land, a subsidiary of Jurong Town Corporation that developed and managed Singapore Technology Parks I and II and several similar estates. See also



Arthur D. Little, Inc. 1987. Technology Development on a State Level Focused on National Goals: A Concept Paper Applied to the State of Karnataka, India. New Delhi: United States Agency for International Development.

BDA. 2000. Bangalore 2011 A.D. Comprehensive Development Plan. Bangalore: Bangalore Development Authority.

Campbell, Tim and Bill Wicksteed. 1987. The Spatial Implications of Technology Development in Bangalore. New Delhi: Office of Technology Development and Enterprise, United States Agency for International Development.

Carnoy, Martin, et al. 1993. The New Global Economy in the Information Age: Reflections on Our Changing World. Harrisburg: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Castells, Manuel. 1996. The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture. Vol. 1. The Rise of the Network Society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

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