Thursday, 3 November 2011

Biting a slice of the big Bangalore pie

Bangalore, by far, has been the most sought-after Metro that has the adequacy to turn a casual visitor into a permanent resident.

The City has been a magnet for those pursuing higher education. The student population has seen a tremendous rise in the past few years.

Father Viju Joseph P V, Director of Christ University, says: “We have students coming from all over the country and various parts of the world. Students from the northern states are large in number and this provides a cultural convergence. It is a great opportunity for students to know the various cultures.”

There are also the likes of Hanumanthu, who cannot afford quality education, but migrated to the city for a better living.

Poverty-sticken Hanumanthu, a final year B Com dropout, migrated from Kurnool district in Andhra Pradesh to Bangalore in search of a job, along with his mother and sister.

 “I want to become a teacher and don’t want to do this work forever. There are fewer opportunities back home, whereas here, I am able to earn as well as save for my future,” he says.

Migration of people is a daily phenomenon. The bustling Yeshwantpur railway station witnesses a storm of people from different geographical locations in the country.

This confluence of varied ethnicities and languages is the most fascinating part.

A railway official said: “The maximum number of people who migrate to the City are from the eastern region. On an average, we have 5,000 people migrating on a daily basis. They primarily belong to Bengal, Bihar, UP, Orissa and Assam.”

“We have direct trains from here to even small places like Dibrugarh in Assam, which are full all the time,” he adds.

S K Rehan from Jagasighpur, a small village near Bhubaneshwar, was travelling home with four friends in the Yeshwantpur-Bhagalpur train. They made Bangalore their second home, inspired by their relatives and friends who came here eight years ago. 

Some of them had not been home for over three years. 

“We are going home after a long time. But, we have sufficient number of people to work in our absence at our workplace,” he said.

Tough to monitor

The State Labour Commission finds it difficult to keep a check their entry.

Commissioner of Labour S R Umashankar provided the nuances of the system: “The Migrant Labour Regulation Act safeguards the rights of migrant labourers. As so many labourers are migrating every day, the registration process of migrant labourers will be made online to make the work easier for both the labourers and us.”

According to data available, 15,734 workers have been covered from 2006 to 2011, under the Inter-State Migrant Workmen Act. However, the data is not accurate as many labourers go unregistered and work without licences. 

“We have unregistered labourers in majority in the City. They stay here for, say, 15 years without getting registered and then demand jobs, saying they belong to the city as they have stayed here for a long time.”

“Around 60-70 per cent of the labourers at the Metro construction sites are migrant labourers.” 

The cultural convergence of such significant intensity only goes to show the welcoming attitude of the City and its people. A senior member of the Bangalore Bengalee Association, who made Bangalore his home 19 years ago, revealed why he chose Bangalore over other cities.

“I came here because of advantages like the conducive weather. It was clear to me that gradually this City is going to attract a lot more people from various parts of the country,” he says.

According to him, way back, the low cost of living, lesser crowd and an amicable atmosphere made Bangalore the most favoured city.

“There are approximately 2.5 lakh to 3 lakh Bengalis in Bangalore and 70 per cent work in the IT industry. Even though the City has issues like traffic congestion and lack of space, it still offers the best city life compared to Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata,” he said. Could there be implications and to what extent, now that Bangalore has become a “melting pot,” is an important question.

Professor K Nagaraj of the Asian College of Journalism, a Kannadiga who has seen the City’s transition, says: “Bangalore has Kannadigas forming roughly one-third of its population. That’s why the confluence of people has tremendously increased over the past few years.”

He said in the past 20 years, a large influx of migrants from both sides of the social spectrum (IT firm employees and manual labourers) in search of livelihood has been noted.

When asked whether there is a threat to the local population, he said: “Karnataka is a congregation of parts taken from various neighbouring regions. I don’t think it is going to cause much of a problem.”

“Spreading out the industries to the outskirts should have been a good idea as it would have improved these backward areas and not created this inept infrastucture within the City,” he added.

With the shrinking space and population growth at its peak, the City’s fate, ironically, seems to take a contracting cultural course. The shift that is oozing with culture, but choking on confined space.

2 comments:

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