The basic DNA of this city, from the bottom end of the corner 'kirana' grocer to the top-end of the IT-preneur is a city that is led and bled by ideas. Look around, and it is not difficult to spot an ‘ideapreneur’ on the prowl. This guy has been welcomed into the fold of this very accommodative city. Never mind where you are from, all are welcome. There is no jingoism here. If your idea is good, you will survive here. And thrive.
The ideas that run here are both small and big.
Decades ago we started with Pub-entrepreneurships. The theme pub started in Bangalore really. A space pub called NASA, a car pub called Black Cadillac, and 485 other variants happened here. The food revolution is a reality in Bangalore today. Every food-entrepreneurship is an idea whose time has come.
Koramangala today boasts of the highest density of restaurants per square kilometer in India for sure, with its 458 offerings. The Café started in Bangalore with VG Siddhartha’s Café Coffee Day, and now we have 2950 of them belonging to a myriad set of brands all over India. The IT end-to-end services enterprises happened here and sprouted, just as did the BPO outfits that litter our lives, From bottom end to top-end, this is surely an ideas city.
I do believe, if New Delhi is the political capital of India, Mumbai the commercial and Kolkata the ‘kultural’, Bangalore is indeed the Intellectual capital of India. We are a city of ideas. A city of thinking people who think the past with equal aplomb as we think the present and the future.
While most cities today are very besotted with the present, we straddle every aspect of the past, present and the future, in our own true-blue Bangalorean way. Never mind the fact that we live treadmill lives, like everyone in the big cities does, but we step off at times as well. And that’s the time we think. And sometimes act.
Bangalore today is all of 87 lakh people living cheek by jowl with people from 25 different Indian states and some 39 nationalities that have made Bangalore India’s biggest expatriate ‘island’. Bangalore is therefore a true-blue amalgam city of sorts. We are the melting pot city in India, if there ever is to be one, where different cultures, tastes, and most importantly ideas mix, rub shoulders and blend. This then is an ideas-laboratory of sorts. A place where new things are thought out. A few ideas flourish and most die of course. In many ways an idea is a sperm. It lives like one and dies like one as well. Very few germinate.
Bangalore has been an ‘ideas city’ for a while now. Only thing is we have not noticed enough of it, and not made enough of it as well. Bangalore has been an ‘innovation city’. Innovative at every level. Bangalore has been a city of entrepreneurs. A lot of credit for this entrepreneurship streak needs to be given to the new settlers we have welcomed into this city from every part of India and the world at large.
Let’s first credit every land entrepreneur who came in from Andhra and indeed the immediate neighboring states around us. Let’s credit every retailer, the grocery ‘kirana’ or gold retailer, many of whom came in from Kerala, again our immediate neighbour state. I can go on listing out terrains that cover technology, ITES, IT-end to end services, Biotech, manufacturing, pharma and literally every other idea vertical that has made this city what it is—a city of ideas. A city that has encouraged idea start-ups from the realm of the humble momo cart to high-end embedded systems that run nations and their many programs.
Is the downside the availability of money?
Idea-sperms are many, but few meet and mate the money that is needed to ramp up the humble idea. One wonders where the moneybags are burying their moneys. Let’s dig.
If I were to look for an image icon to represent Bangalore, it would not be the Vidhana Soudha, (which we use so profusely). Neither would it be the visual of the “Namma Metro”.
Instead, I would land up right in Paris, run into the Musee Rodin and fly out Auguste Rodin’s “The Thinker” and plant it out here right outside Cubbon Park. Sorry Parisians. This is the spanking new thinking city of the spanking new world—Bangalore!
Harish Bijoor is a Brand-strategy specialist & CEO, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc.