Features

Spotlight on Bengaluru: Coding Growth

27 Nov 2016 by Akanksha Maker
Bangalore city scape

Bengaluru’s versatility and adaptability are attractive, not just to investors
but also to the urban youth of India. Having visited the city for summer holidays when I was younger, the cosmopolitan character of the Karnataka-capital drew me back another time. This time the agenda of my trip
was slightly different; it was to delve into two
of its burgeoning industries that have become synonymous with Bengaluru’s economy. The first — its information technology industry and the second — its aerospace sector.

Landing at Kempegowda International Airport,
I headed towards the dedicated area for taxi aggregators (Uber and Ola Cabs primarily) within the premises, where my driver waited patiently. He warned about the traffic issues there as I fastened my seat-belt. I had heard about the city’s bottle-neck, but my drive was surprisingly easy. A sheet of green trees bordered National Highway 44 en route to Whitefield, the city’s information technology hub.

Traffic jams moving in an organised manner, allowed me to peek into large information technology parks and corporate complexes dedicated to renowned international companies such as IBM and Microsoft.

Whitefield’s colossal IT spaces make Bengaluru’s leading position in the industry quite evident. Christened Silicon Valley of India, the comparisons to Santa Clara Valley in the USA stem from its burgeoning tech industry. The roots of this can be traced back to the 1970s, when Ram Krishna Baliga envisioned turning Bengaluru into India’s premier IT hub.

Baliga, alumni of the prestigious Indian Institute of Science and the former chairman of Karnataka State Electronics Development Corporation, has worked in companies such as General Electric and Kaiser Engineers. Not many people took Baliga’s ambitious statements seriously when he wished to establish the IT industry in Bengaluru.

Suspicion turned into trust, when he purchased 330 acres of land in Anekal Taluk of Bangalore’s (Bengaluru’s former name) urban district and developed it into a world-class facility for home- grown and international IT companies. Big houses such as Infosys, Wipro, HP, Siemens, Motorola, Tata Consultancy Services and Genpact set shop there. The campus employed over 1,00,000 professionals and established a solid foundation for the tech industry of Bengaluru.

Firms spanning software, hardware and telecommunication services also penetrated into this park eventually. Today, Baliga is rightly regarded as the father of Bengaluru’s IT revolution. At the dawn of the millennium, when the world experienced the “dot-com boom”, many such technology parks followed in, thus providing impetus to its status of being the IT leader of India.

While most companies have expanded their presence across the country, their headquarters remain stationed there. Previously mentioned Infosys, an Indian multinational corporation
that provides business consulting, information technology and outsourcing services, was founded in Pune in 1981 but soon moved its headquarters
to Bengaluru in 1983. “We were one of the first software companies to set up operations in the city that went on to become India’s Silicon Valley,” says Richard Lobo, senior vice president and head of human resources at Infosys. “We have a little over 30,000 employees here. We work on all aspects of our business including IT services, Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) and consulting. We also have most of our top client-related projects operating in Bengaluru.”
There are several reasons why Bengaluru emerged as the powerful hub of technology in India; for starters, the city’s pleasant climate through the year is one. While the rest of India experiences extreme weather the seasons in Bengaluru are relatively relaxed.

Further, its multi-faceted character draws people from all walks and cultures of life. The city is welcoming and provides a platform to the young urban professional that aspires to live a decent quality of life. Vanessa Rebello, manager of content marketing at Flipkart International moved from Mumbai to Bengaluru for her career and deems it as “one of the best decisions” of her life.

Rebello adds, “The city isn’t struggling for survival, and hence professional environments
are also calmer and less frantic. Office hours aren’t
as hectic as in Mumbai (although commutes are long). Several organisations offer benefits to their employees such a gym, office cab service and meal options. The work culture here is different; and sometimes different is good. Real estate is affordable, as is food and travel. There’s a thriving nightlife, and the city is safe. Traffic is a nightmare, though. Then again, there’s always the city’s weather to make up for it. Overall, Bengaluru is great for young,
urban professionals.”

There is no doubt that Bengaluru is burgeoning and attractive to educated Indian youth as well as investors from an array of industries. Another field in which it has found an expertise, is the aerospace industry — that is the largest in India.

It all started in 1940, when Hindustan Aeronautics (HAL) established itself in Bengaluru. The Indian state-owned aerospace and defence company
is involved in the manufacturing and assembly of aircraft and airports’ logistics amongst other operations. Rated as one of the top aerospace companies of Asia, the Bengaluru-based power player generates a revenue of about US$2 billion, that primarily results from international deals for the manufacture of aircraft components such as engines, spare parts, and other aircraft material.

HAL laid the foundation of a solid industry
in Bengaluru, which invited various aerospace companies to engage in manufacturing, design, development and MRO (maintenance, repair and overhaul facility) to expand there. Its IT advantage helps Bengaluru maintain its position as the hub
for Indian aerospace too. The Silicon Valley of the country provides aviation giants with tech prowess, creating a win-win scenario for both the industries. World leaders in aerospace have also set up their engineering and technology service centres in Bengaluru for this reason.

With the Indian aviation sector expanding at an exponential rate, two of the largest aerospace firms, Boeing and Airbus have identified Bengaluru as
a suitable destination. While Boeing operates a research and technology centre in the Karnataka- capital, Airbus owns a flight training centre there. The Bengaluru-based research institute of Boeing was set up in 1995 in collaboration with National Aerospace Laboratories. A strategic partnership between Boeing and Indian Institute of Science (IISc), one of the city’s finest educational schools, followed in 2005.

The extensive R&D generated there has substantially contributed to innovation in aerospace and progression of aircraft design capabilities.
The acclaimed institute is one of ten universities worldwide to share this much sought-after relationship with Boeing.

Boeing’s Strategic Development and Experimentation Centre is also stationed in Bengaluru. The Centre provides specialised services to the Indian armed forces by analysing the future needs of the air force.

While the US-headquartered aviation company invested in Bengaluru, Europe’s Airbus didn’t lag behind. The company’s training centre — Airbus Training India — has provided maintenance training to approximately 2,250 aviation professionals from India and abroad. It has also partnered with Toulouse Business School to launch a two-year, part-time MBA programme that is delivered at Indian Institute of Management (IIM-B), Bengaluru.

Two years ago, Airbus took another leap of faith with India and chose Bengaluru after Toulouse and Hamburg, for its business accelerator programme, BizLabs. Under the initiative, Airbus calls for applications by individual entrepreneurs or a start-up group.

Applicants selected by the panel that includes Airbus’ chief innovation officer Yann Barbaux and the BizLabs’ head Bruno Gutierres, are enrolled
into a six-month programme that offers coaching in legal, finance, marketing and communications and technology pertinent to Airbus. “I think in Bengaluru, with what we know and what we have already invested, especially in systems innovations —
we can come up with very good ideas,” said Fabrice Brégier, chief executive officer of Airbus, in an interview with The Economic Times during the launch of the initiative in India.
To further augment its aerospace capability, the state government has earmarked 950 acres of land for an aerospace SEZ (special economic zone) at Devanahalli, near Kempegowda International Airport. This SEZ will be home to projects of Wipro Aerospace and Hindustan Aeronautics, to name a couple.

The city that conceived India’s first fighter jet — Light Combat Aircraft — is the unvanquished leader in Indian aerospace. The state of Karnataka (especially Bengaluru) is responsible for producing more than
a quarter of the required aircraft in Indian aerospace and defence.

Heading back to Kempegowda International Airport, I was intrigued by the name change of
the city that seemed to reflect everywhere. Upon questioning my driver, he said: “The idea was for the city’s name to reflect Devanagari and local scripts
of Karnataka. And so Bangalore was christened Bengaluru two years ago.” Much had changed
since my last visit, including its name. But its
stance of being the IT and aerospace leader of India remains uncontested.

Whitfield Bengaluru

WHAT TO SEE

Bangalore Palace

The former residence of the kings of Mysore, Bangalore Palace vaguely resembles England’s Windsor Castle. Built by the first principal of the Central High School of Bengaluru in 1884, the palace was bought over by Chamarajendra Wadiyar, Mysore’s king at that time, who was spellbound by its magnificent architecture. Its splendour is still preserved today; escape into Tudor style of architecture blended with Gothic facades, battlements and turrets on your visit. Take an audio guide to delve into its rich antiquity. Open 10am-5:30pm; entry fee `225 (Indians)/`450 (foreigners)

HAL Aerospace Museum

India’s first aerospace museum is located in the premises of Hindustan Aeronautics. The precursor of Indian aviation, HAL is the birthplace of the finest fighter jets owned by the country’s armed forces. On display is the chronology of Indian aviation through images and prototypes of fighter planes that are still used by Indian defence. It is a complete feast for the aviation geek and patriot. The space also houses a Heritage Library with rare manuscripts and audio-visuals of aerospace and technology. Open 9am-5pm; entry fee `30

100 Feet Road

Bengaluru’s bustling nightlife and diverse culinary scene is best experienced at 100 Feet Road. From Fatty Bao (pan-Asian) to Paradise (South Indian), this area is the answer to gourmands looking to indulge in the city’s finest restaurants. Also known as Indiranagar 100 Feet Road, this high-street is dotted with microbreweries such as Vapour Pub and Brewery and Toit. And if you’re still hungry, The Black Rabbit (continental), Mamagoto (Oriental) or Raaga (North Indian) shall satiate you well.

Aloft Hotels

WHERE TO STAY

The Waverly Hotel and Residences

Situated within VR Bengaluru mall in Whitefield, the city’s IT hub, The Waverly Hotel and Residences is a boutique property targeting corporate travellers. Its categories start at The Waverly room with basic amenities. Studio, Loft, Grand Room, Grand Room (twin), One-, Two-, Three-Bedroom residences are designed to offer an array of choices to its guests. Its connectivity to the mall is its USP, and it also features interesting F&B options within the property. The Whitefield Arms is the in-house brewery that’s awaiting its alcohol licence. Alt at the rooftop is besides the pool and offers stunning views of Whitefield. thewaverly.in

The Ritz-Carlton

The only Ritz-Carlton in India, the hotel has 277 rooms and suites. Rooms are categorised as Deluxe, Club Deluxe and Deluxe Premier, while suites are divided into Executive, Club Executive, Club Grand Executive, Club Royal and The Ritz-Carlton suite. It has extensive F&B outlets such as Riwaz
for Indian, The Lantern for Chinese, a snazzy bar called Bang, The Pool
Bar, The Ritz-Carlton Bar, The Lobby Lounge and Ganache, its in-house patisserie. The Ritz-Carlton Spa sprawls across 1,579 sqm and offers a range of contemporary treatments. ritzcarlton.com

St. Mark’s Hotel

Close to multinational companies such as Microsoft and Siemens,
is this boutique business hotel. With 96 guest rooms that are categorised as Deluxe, Executive and suites, and meeting spaces that can accommodate up-to 100 guests, the hotel is a no-frills property, ideal
for business travellers. St. Mark’s Hotel has three F&B outlets — Curry with a K that prides itself on “nouveau Indian” cuisine, a bar called Luscious and Terrace Garden, its rooftop eatery. St. Mark’s Hotel is offering a special rate for long-stay guests (seven nights minimum)
with complimentary airport pickup, breakfast and wifi. stmarkshotel.com

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