A New Year’s Journey Across the Indian Terrain

In Development, Economics, Life in India by Vijay Jayaraj0 Comments

This winter, I moved from the polluted city of Delhi to the picturesque city of Coimbatore in the South.

The journey captured the changes in a developing world that is at the crossroads between holding on to its traditional roots and venturing into a technologically futuristic society.

My first stop was in the city of Bangalore, now known as Bengaluru. This city is also called the Silicon Valley of India because it thrives on jobs generated by the software Industry.

Wading through the heavy traffic, the fast-paced city dwellers have little to complain of regarding their city—the booming software industry is the economic backbone of the city. In addition to a good economy, the locals enjoy pleasant weather throughout the year thanks to its high elevation above sea level, and plenty of water from the River Cauvery.

Unlike any other city in India, Bengaluru is multi-linguistic. People here are fluent in Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, and English—making it a haven for migrants from other states of our linguistically diverse country.

The exponential increase in the population of the city, although challenging, did not greatly affect life in the city. The city boasts the best infrastructure in India. The population explosion thus aided in the development of the city to international standards.

My journey ended in Coimbatore, another fast developing city, at the foothills of the Western Ghat Mountain regions. The city has a charm of its own and acts as the financial and administrative head for the thousands of villages surrounding it.

Historically, the city witnessed invasion from many kings. But unlike other invaded cities, Coimbatore’s people welcomed changes in kings and kingdoms.

This attitude led them to develop and espouse a culture that was more people-friendly—which is reflected in their language and social customs.

In more recent history, the city was famously called the Manchester of South India—serving as a major textile hub. It is also an innovative and manufacturing hub for motors and textile machinery parts.

Coimbatore is fast growing and has a mix of people groups from Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and other southern states.

Just like Bengaluru, the city benefits from the small but growing software industry. It also serves as the employment hub for recruiters because of the large concentration of institutions of higher learning, including technological and agricultural universities.

Both Bengaluru and Coimbatore are shining examples of India’s economic progress—fueled by free-trade, capitalism, and minimal government intervention. Huge crowds in both cities have been a blessing, not a curse, providing the work force needed for growth.

Both cities are close to wildlife regions and I am looking forward to penning my experience of human-wildlife interaction and resource utilization in this area in which I have made my new home.

Vijay Jayaraj (M.S., Environmental Science) is the Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation. He currently lives in Udumalpet, India.

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