Once labeled the City of Thousand Lakes and the Garden City, Bengaluru aka Bangalore seems like it has been hit by a concrete tsunami with its transition into the technological capital of India, leaving behind its green roots. Exploring this city during our residency the intensity of development was evident. Seeing the remaining large old magnificent trees dotted around the city, we cannot help but think how many fell in the course of economic growth and urbanisation.
“The information technology boom in Bangalore in the 1990’s was definitely the most potent catalyst for changing city planning norms” wrote Suresh Jayaram in his essay titled Constructing the Landscape of a Garden City: Change and Conflict. Those periods of intense change saw large waves of people from all over India arriving in Bangalore seeking this “new found wealth” in the technological boom. This city “once envisioned to balance nature and urban development, was soon wracked by basic planning problems [...] and the lack of respect for heritage, nature and culture became common and left the city scarred.”
Similar sentiments also came from Indian documentary photographer Mahesh Bhat, who spent considerable time documenting the expeditious changes to the city. In his book Bengaluru/Bangalore: In First Person Singular, he witnessed “the exponential growth of Bangalore placed an enormous pressure on the basic infrastructure. Road were clogged. Public transportation was inadequate. Yet malls and residential apartments mushroomed [...] the rest of the city was neglected [...] there was very little emphasis on the development of human capital.”
This concern is not confined to Bangalore alone, it is a common theme played out globally in countries that seek to progress into a modern style of living and increase well being. Development must take on an inclusive global view where no one country is an island on its own and where no one country is in a position to exploit another. A good place to begin is with nature; looking after and putting back into the natural environment so everyone has access to clean water, fresh air and rich soil for growing nutritious food, which all connects to physical and mental well being of a person and society. Prosperity should not be limited to financial or material gains and pretty residential developments or apartments. It requires encompassing the thoughtful growth of communities, human well being and the nurturing of nature.
Text are excerpts from Man&Wah's exhibition titled Botanical Cosmos Bengaluru