As the West inches out of recession, India's Bangalore is feeling the glow of a brighter future. Saritha Rai reports from India.
Who would have thought a 6.2-mile stretch of elevated road could get a whole city into a twirl?
In traffic-clogged Bangalore, a 10-lane expressway leading from the city to the Electronics City suburbs, where many technology and outsourcing firms have their campus-y offices, promises to slash commute time from hours to minutes.
Thousands of techies, who got their laptop cables in a twist over the daily traffic snarls on Hosur Road, are rejoicing.
In a country where infrastructure projects like airports, metro railway or expressways take decades to build, the newly opened elevated road is nothing short of a sensation. Motorists are driving the stretch just to experience what is billed as India's longest elevated road, making it a new must-see destination in the city.
The new expressway has coincided with the other cheery news in Bangalore at the start of a new decade. The technology industry, which suffered a mean wallop in 2009 global economic decline, is resurgent, in tune with rising business spends in the West and the overall economic rebound in India.
So is India's Bangalore-centric outsourcing industry clambering out of the recessionary trough? The first sniff of a turnaround occurred last quarter when companies' near-stagnant attrition figures started inching up.
There are other signs too. The city's drinking lounges and restaurants are crowded again. The malls are swarming with shoppers. The snaking lines are back at the multiplex ticket windows. Car sales are zooming off the target charts. New residential high-rise developments, consisting of modestly priced apartments as a concession to the downturn, are launching by the dozen.
Bangalore's spending rate, powered by young professionals from the outsourcing industry, is on full display.
Top Indian outsourcing firms as well as the Indian units of technology consulting firms are ramping up. "We are currently hiring aggressively," Rekha M Menon, executive director of Accenture India, told me recently. Accenture will increase headcount from 42,000 currently to 50,000 by August, Menon said.
This time last year, companies were pink-slipping their once-pampered employees, marking an industry low point. Now, I speak to outsourcing employees who are expecting...
Saritha Rai is an India-based journalist and commentator who covers technology, business and society from her ringside seat in Bangalore.