Achieving global competitiveness and local poverty reduction? The tale of a public-private partnership for urban regeneration in Bangalore, India
This chapter explores how changing global economic and political forces drove the constitution of a public-private partnership arrangement for urban regeneration in Bangalore, India. In 1999, a new subnational Government was elected and was faced with failing infrastructure, low confidence in government, and rising poverty and inequality in the capital city, Bangalore. The demand for better infrastructure and governance reform from industry, particularly the powerful information technology sector, and the increasingly vocal middle classes, led to the constitution of a public-private partnership called the Bangalore Agenda Task Force (BATF) – a partnership between corporate agents and city Government officials. The chapter argues that through its discourse and projects the BATF focused on achieving global competitiveness that benefited the middle classes at the expense of poor groups, often living in ‘informal’ areas. This attempt to shape and integrate disparate segments of the professional and business classes, under the banner of urban regeneration and reform, garnered considerable opposition, which ultimately resulted in the partnership’s demise. Despite local contestations, the far-reaching influence of the BATF is revealed by the replication and scaling-up of several elements of its programs to 65 major cities across the country through a national infrastructure program called the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission.