Bangalore is a megacity with a substantial services-based economy. Since economic liberalization in 1991, there has been a rapid expansion in technology related services. At the same time, large scale manufacturing within the city has declined, while small-scale and informal manufacturing, particularly in the garments sector, persists.
One of India’s key national development priorities is to generate broad-based employment opportunities for our large young labour force. The national government is attempting to achieve this through an industry-led growth strategy. However, this is increasingly difficult in today’s global economic context, as late industrializing countries are seeing a decline in manufacturing output and employment at lower levels of per capita income, a phenomenon titled ‘premature deindustrialisation’. Not only are manufacturing jobs insufficient to absorb the expanding labour force, they are also increasingly informal in nature and less secure than in the pre-liberalisation era.
Studying the industrial economy at a city scale is challenging in the Indian context because of the absence of data on industrial output or production. Therefore, in order to develop a comprehensive picture about the city’s industrial transformation, we will build a new base of evidence using proxy measures such as employment and land use changes. By focusing on the two most substantial components of Bangalore’s industrial economy—the public sector enterprises and the textiles and garments sector—we aim to assess whether the city is deindustrializing, and trace the reasons for the decline of certain types of manufacturing in the city while others have survived.
A second part of this research aims to question the assumption that industrialisation is the only pathway for a country with a large unskilled workforce like India to reduce poverty and generate better employment opportunities. How can the services sector jobs that employ a majority of India’s urban workforce, largely through informal and precarious arrangements, be improved in terms of providing wage mobility and social security?
This research aims to map Bangalore’s industrial transformation in the decades since liberalisation, to answer the following research questions:
- Is Bangalore’s economy deindustrialising? In the absence of data at the city scale on production or output, can we construct an evidence base about Bangalore’s industrial transformation through proxy data such as employment and land use change?
- What are the proximate and historical reasons for the decline of certain types of manufacturing within the city, while others have survived? Here, we will also examine transnational impacts on particular industries that were historically located in Bangalore.
- How have patterns of industrial location shaped particular parts of the city in particular ways?
- In the absence of adequate industrial jobs, are there alternative options for decent work and upward mobility in different sub-sectors of the services economy?