Bangalore (1900 – 1970): Entrepreneurial shaping of the city’s business landscape

While entrepreneurship has been argued as the engine of global capitalism , it is the shaping of regional economies that fuel this growth engine. The city of Bangalore in India is identified today as India’s startup capital, which got built on the city’s image of an engineering center. In this paper, we trace how the business landscape of Bangalore came to be shaped by entrepreneurial efforts across sectors as diverse as mining, sericulture, textiles and engineering. Our primary sources include oral history sources - detailed interviews with actors in the ecosystem including entrepreneurs, city administrators, trade association representatives – and archival sources. Secondary sources include published historical works on the city. A cantonment town in 1900, the city attracted human talent from across the country in the decades that followed thanks to an industrialization drive by the princely regime before independence. Introduction of electricity, development of mining and sericulture, the shocks of the world wars shaped the pre-independence business landscape of a city which lacked any native business community of note. The concentration of research labs and Public Sector Units (PSUs) with their experiments of ancillarization and creation of ancillary industrial estates in the immediate post-independence decades cemented the city’s engineering foundations. This further lured entrepreneurial and engineering talent thereby shaping not merely the business landscape but also the cosmopolitanism of the city.