Bangalore, a city of six million in the southern Indian state of Karnartaka, is one of the world’s top centers of technology development. About 80,000 people work in its high-tech industry, many of them graduates of one of Bangalore’s more than 100 research universities or technical colleges. Hundreds of international companies — including IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun Microsystems and American Express — have set up software development centers or contracted with local firms in order to take advantage of Bangalore’s supply of highly-trained, English-speaking computer graduates. Because of the vast gap in per-capita income between the West and India, salaries are high by Indian standards but are only a fraction of those commanded by programmers in the US or Europe. Just as important is the 24-hour working day that is created by satellite and fiber broadband circuits linking India and the US on opposite sides of the globe, with software engineers trading projects back and forth as their working days begin and end.
Since the mid-1990s, the result has been the creation of a fast-growing and affluent community of professionals in what locals call India’s “Garden City.” The achievement is particularly impressive when considered in context. India is a vast nation of one billion with per-capita gross domestic product of US$458 (2000), an estimated 44% of the population living in poverty (mid-90s), and only 30 residential phone lines per 1,000 people (2000). Bangalore’s success is due to the effective economic development marketing of a government agency, Software Technology Parks of India; to the grassroots efforts of Indian software engineers and entrepreneurs in the US, who have opened eyes to the potential of their native country; and to a local commitment to education and training that has made Bangalore the home of nearly 20% of Indian’s total institutions of higher education.