Wednesday, March 10, 2004

Rebuttal - Bangalore: Silicon Valley or Coolie Valley?

Posted on March 10, 2004 19:58 PM EST

Recently an article was published on, which has generated much interest. It is being posted on online forums, forwarded as emails and talked about in many places. This is my rebuttal to that article.

You can read the original article here: Bangalore: Silicon Valley or Coolie Valley?

My rebuttal

When we call Bangalore as Silicon Valley of India, we don't mean Bangalore is a mirror image of the Silicon Valley in California. We are not claiming that we are doing the similar work or have the same attitude or culture or even business volumes as the Silicon Valley. What we mean is, Bangalore is to India, what Silicon Valley is or was to the US.

But I agree that we don't have to name ourselves after some other place. We can and should create our own identity. And we ARE doing that.

Having said that, let me answer each point in this guy's summary.

He writes: Don't call your city Silicon Valley ('pub city' or 'garden city', I have no problem with -- lots of pubs and lots of trees, but very little silicon).

Libran Lover: The Silicon Valley culture and work did not come up overnight. There were several factors: the spirit of entrepreneurship that has always existed across the US, the strong financial and technical base coupled with proximity of the client base, the greater risk-taking attitude of Americans as compared to Indians, and few other factors. The technology industry in Bangalore is still growing. Bangalore might never come to resemble Silicon Valley, but Bangalore will probably surpass Silicon Valley in it's own way and style.

He writes: Don't call one of your new software companies a 'high technology start-up.'

Libran Lover: Granted that most of our start-ups don't probably jump into 'high technology' right away. There are surely exceptions that do. However, most of us start in tried, true and predictable areas. Then build up from there. That is the Indian way. That is why Bangalore's glory will live long past Silicon Valley's. Bangalore will be more resilient than Silicon Valley. BUT, today there ARE companies in Bangalore (Indian-owned and foreign-owned) that are doing work in cutting edge technologies. And more Bangalore companies are joining the fray all the time. No questions about that. If the author claims otherwise, he doesn't know enough.

He writes: Don't call your engineers 'techies.' They've forgotten their engineering long ago.

Libran Lover: Again, the author doesn't seem to know enough. Bangalore techies or techies employed by companies operating out of Bangalore (Wipro, Infosys, etc.) are involved in engineering activities - in Bangalore and across the world. Not only software engineering, but also engineering new hardware designs. Not only computer hardware, but also consumer electronics, automobiles, etc. And we have already ventured into frontier areas like bio technologies, nano technologies, etc. These are happening in Bangalore.

He writes: Don't say you've invested in 'tech stocks' ('body stocks' maybe ?).

Libran Lover: The above points I have mentioned imply that we are not just about body stocks. Is there an undercurrent of sarcasm in the author's tone when he writes this? I hope not. People have proved to be India's best assets. We grew up learning in schools and colleges that population is India's biggest problem. Young Indians are turning this theory upside down. In this century, we will prove that the population of India turned out to be India's biggest advantage. It is India's young population - you and I, our friends and nephews and nieces and children - who will be the main fuel for India's growth. India's "bodies" will influence the whole world in coming decades in ways that we can't even imagine now.

There will always be pessimists and nay sayers. Let's listen to what they say - after all, they identify our weak areas. Then let's try to improve those areas. No need to get discouraged. And no need to stop cheering ourselves either. If we have something nice going, let's flaunt it. Bangalore did not become Bangalore just like that. It became what it is today because of the wonderful open-minded, welcoming, progressive attitudes of Bangaloreans. It has always been that way in Bangalore. We are proud of that and we hope to keep it that way in the future.

I have read reports that said: If you left out rest of India and considered only the economic growth of South India during the past few years, we have been growing at a rate faster than the famed "Asian Tiger" countries. No points for guessing that a significant chunk of that economic growth has come from Bangalore. Instead of comparing what we do with what is or was done in Silicon Valley and then looking down on us, it would be better for the rest of India to see how they can improve in their own ways, in their own areas, according to their own strengths. We used our progressive attitudes and the value we give to academic education to get where we are now. Let other areas tap their own good points and come up too. Then our country as a whole can beat any country in the world. That is what is required.

Good luck and all the best.

PS: A reader Nahusha wrote to me: Bangalore is not located in a Valley. It is located on the Deccan Plateau. So Bangalore should be called the Silicon Plateau of the World.