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Bangalore Gone Wild


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December 22, 2006

Bangalore Gone Wild

Steve Hamm

This is kind of a late-blooming story, but worth the wait. Remember those reports of civil unrest in Bangalore last April when Indian film actor Raj Kumar died? A bunch of the tech operations had to shut down for a day because bands of Kumar fans were roaming the streets breaking windows and forcing storekeepers to shut down their stores to show respect for their hero. Not only did they want the stores closed, but they didn't want anybody driving on the roads, either.

Bill Ireland, IBM's director of Global Delivery Center, India, told me a wild tale about that day when I visited with him in Bangalore last month. I thought I might use it in a story, but decided not to, so here it is:

IBM stayed open that day, and brought food in for its people. At the end of the work day, Ireland headed home in his car. "It was chaos in the streets," he says. "People were shutting down the shops and throwing stones at the cars. A bunch of young punks stopped me. Like an idiot, I got out of the car and confronted them. I said, 'Don't you do it.' I waved my finger at them. And, fortunately, they scattered. They backed off."

The next time there was a civil disturbance in Bangalore, on Oct. 4, people massed in the streets from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. to protest a border dispute with the neighboring state of Maharashtra. All the tech outfits knew this one was coming, so they planned ahead. IBM had its people come to work before the strike started and leave after it ended. That made for a long day, but avoided any confrontations like Ireland had after Raj Kumar died.

02:32 PM

India

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The former civil disturbance was not a planned one whereas the later one was a planned and announced strike, so one would be amazed that any org didn't plan ahead.

Posted by: R at December 26, 2006 09:12 AM

Well, don't know what to say to this, i have been here in Bangalore from last 2 years and i am totally confused. While working on international projects and roaming in a Shopping Mall you feel like you are at the best place in India. But when when you drive down the street or see anything as mentioned above, (its not uncommon be prepared it can happen anytime next), you feel perhaps this city didn't deserved kind of technological advances it got. Can't understand is this a civilized society, shouting slogans pelting stones for some actor who died on his own. I would locals should come up get educated and get some good job like other who have come from different areas. Rather then always concerned that we are losing authority over city, losing our identity. Its pity to see locals just as auto-rickshaw drivers or cabbies, that also they can;t do properly they have to cheat for more money. Bangalore come up to your name....

Posted by: Anonymous at March 5, 2007 09:04 AM


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