How's my Luck now?

Reflections, views and descriptions during my stay at IIM Lucknow from July 2004 to March 2006

Location: India

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

A tale of two cities - II

Bangalore's weak points

Bangalore's infrastructure is now well-known to have limited scalability. This is due to two reasons: pressure from the demand side - increasing number of companies entering, vehicles plying the roads, people moving in; and that from the supply side - long time taken to develop infrastructure like flyovers, etc. The result is restrictive solutions that create new problems. One example is the increase in the number of one-ways, which has shut out a lot of shorter routes and increased the cost of travel (first-hand experience :( ). Ahmedabad does better mainly by being able to execute infrastructure projects in a defined and quick duration. Of course, if there a thrust by the IT industry, it remains to be seen how well it can scale it up, but I have more confidence in Ahmedabad's municipal authorities than in Bangalore's, particularly after the BATF initiative was closed down. The Bangalore International Airport project suffered even when a supportive government was in place.
Both cities have a good public transport system of buses which needs to be supported and enhanced, but do not have a prevalent public culture of using the system.

Road accidents
A related effect is the frequent incidence of road accidents, particularly involving two-wheelers, in Bangalore. Traffic discipline is probably equally bad in Ahmedabad, but it would be interesting to examine the accident statistics in the two cities.

Azim Premji's outburst on frequent KEB power outages and consequent embarrassment caused in front of Wipro's clients is well-known. Ahmedabad and Surat's electricity companies (now Torrent Group companies, as far as I know) are excellent in this respect. Particularly, AEC's power supply drops only a couple of times a year, on an average, and that too for short durations.

Cost of living
Although Ahmedabad is not very cheap in an absolute sense, its cost of living is definitely lower than that of Bangalore. A big contributor to this difference would be the real-estate prices, which are soaring in Bangalore. The last time I heard, Ahmedabad also had a lot of empty apartment space, which could cushion the prices for some time before new investment in real estate occurs. Food might be slightly cheaper, overall, in Bangalore, but there must be a lot of variation in individual categories of food.

Bangalore's law & order scene has worsened considerably in the last few years. Even as I went there, the last week had been marred by several crimes committed on software engineers, people coming out of ATMs, and even on auto-rickshaw-wallahs. Ahmedabad too, like most other cities, has its share of crimes, but Bangalore's situation seems alarming. One reason might be that people are increasingly falling into two major economic classes there: the very rich (or soon-to-be-very-rich) and the poor. Such a society can be expected to be crime-ridden. So far at least, Ahmedabad has all classes of people in significant proportions so that one of the major root causes of crime is under better control.

All of this, I think (and hope), points to the fact that Ahmedabad deserves a consideration when planning a new investment or setting up a new venture. Of course, all of the above is based on qualitative arguments and not on hard statistics, but I think the argument would still stand if statistics are considered.


Blogger Ravish said...

Bangalore sucks as far as infrastructure is concerned..
Surat rocks !! and is improving leaps and bounds..

1:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home