The most common narrative one hears about Bangalore is that of “two Bangalores”—the city, and the cantonment. This is as common as the tired “two Indias” trope. India cannot be explained away with such a simplistic dichotomy. Bangalore cannot be either.
In fact, if one looks at Bangalore as a nation, it has all the nuances that a large and complex nation such as India would. Secessionist movements, disputed territories, powerful non-state actors, everything.
Any country needs to have natural defences that make it tough for outsiders to invade. India has the Himalayas and the Thar Desert. Bangalore has two such too. The traffic jam at Silk Board Junction, and the traffic jam in the whole KR Puram-Mahadevpura-Whitefield region. Thanks to these defences that Bangalore has naturally developed without spending too much money, any invasion of outsiders has to happen at non-peak hours. Some say that the inordinate delays that we are seeing with Namma Metro is the act of Bangalore patriots who are worried about an efficient public transport dismantling Bangalore’s best natural defences—its traffic jams.
The most prominent secessionist movement in Bangalore is that of DPRK - Democratic People’s Republic of Koramangala. Just like its far-eastern namesake in Korea, this DPRK too isn’t democratic, or much of a republic. It is culturally so different from the rest of Bangalore that most citizens have no issues with Koramangala seceding. As long as they have access to Forum Mall, that is. Forum Mall is at a strategic location, and connects Bangalore on one side with Koramangala on the other. Or Forumangala, as some put it. If and when the DPRK freedom movement succeeds, Forum will become the ideal transit point between the two countries, and people can eat at Transit, the food court at Forum Mall while waiting for the visa formalities to be completed.
The largest of disputed territories in Bangalore is that of ToK. Tamil occupied Karnataka. These are large swathes of interconnected parcels of land in the South-Eastern quadrant of Bangalore. ToK’s existence is mostly under the radar, and people notice it only when the census figures come in once a decade with its linguistic break-ups, and suddenly people realise that nearly 25% of Bangalore’s population is Tamil. However, there are many who believe that ToK stands for Telugu owned Karnataka, as most of the land here is owned by Telugu landlords.
Forming an intricate set of enclaves and exclaves with ToK is Amit Pradesh. The existence of Amit Pradesh can be directly traced to the Aryan (Amit being the Aryan John Doe) invasion that happened simultaneously with the development of the IT industry in Bangalore. They came from north of Hebbal flyover, and set up camps at places close to where IT parks were coming up in ToK. The first few waves of Amits (and Ishas) were also the ones responsible for DPRK. The further waves just settled for Amit Pradesh. Just like ToK, Amit Pradesh stretches all the way from Marathahalli to Madivala, from Banaswadi to BTM.
Just like in India where there are many movements for separate states, there are a lot of places in Bangalore that seek to carve out their own identity and split from the larger region they are associated with. JP Nagar has for a while been campaigning for an identity of its own that is separate from that of Jayanagar. There is also a movement to split Malleswaram into two. The stretch from Central (near Mantri Square), to 5th Cross where you have Big Bazaar and Brand Factory wants to identify itself as Malleswaram (same spelling as the rest of Malleswaram, but the first syllable is pronounced differently—mull over it)
India’s internal divisions are defined by its river systems—the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, Kaveri, etc. Bangalore’s rivers are its arterial roads—Mysore Road, Magadi Road, Tumkur Road, Bellary Road, Old Madras Road, Sarjapur Road, Hosur Road, Bannerghatta Road, and Kanakapura Road. While India is still making plans for a grand river linking system, Bangalore has done this many times over. Inner Ring Road, Intermediate Ring Road, Outer Ring Road, NICE Road, Peripheral Ring Road.
A significant chunk of India’s geopolitics is defined by its adversarial relationship with Pakistan. Similarly for Bangalore, it is Chennai (and by extension, the rest of Tamil Nadu). The Kashmir in this case is another K-word. Kaveri. If you are a Tamilian venturing outside of ToK, it is advisable that you scream “Kaveri Nammadu” in the most Kannadiga of accents to avoid trouble from those still waiting for their Kaveri Stage IV water supply connections to work.
I can go on with these analogies for a while yet, but I have proven my basic point. There is more to Bangalore geopolitics than meets the eye. I shall tell you the rest over a beNNe masala and strong coffee at CTR (a wonderful restaurant in Bangalore, and not DPRK, ToK, or Amit Pradesh).
Thejaswi Udupa's day job involves attempting to break cartels in the construction industry using a few lines of code. He holds strong opinions on science fiction, heavy music, and the boundaries of Bangalore.