BANGALORE, India (BP)–Random encounters in Bangalore, India’s symbolic center of prosperity and progress:
— Suresh Varghese, a native of Kerala state, looks sharp in a monogrammed pinstripe shirt and tasteful tie. An expert in computer chip design, he’s spent 15 years working in the San Francisco area. But America’s Silicon Valley is struggling now — and plenty of Indian IT companies want what he has to offer. So he’s interviewing in Bangalore and seriously considering something he never thought he’d do: moving back to India. “My son will miss McDonald’s Happy Meals” with real beef, he admits. But India is where the action is.
— A young woman wearing a traditional sari guides a motor scooter through a Bangalore intersection snarled with trucks and busses. As a passenger holds on behind her, she steers the scooter with one hand and chats on a cell phone she’s holding with the other.
— In his mid-20s, Raju Srinivas manages a recently opened Apple Computer shop in an upscale Bangalore mall. His parents, now retired, are thrilled. “My father was not educated, so he is very happy that I am [educated] -– and that I have this job.” But Raju sees it as just a start; he wants to move up the corporate ladder in Apple’s India operation. “Always I want to take the next step,” he explains.
— “You want to party with us tonight?” asks one of the Bangalore University students lounging upstairs at a posh coffee shop. They’re planning to hit several discos that attract 1,000 or more young people nightly. One of the students is working on his MBA degree, after which he plans to study in America and return to help run his father’s business. His ultimate goal? “Prime minister of India,” he replies. His friends laugh, but he has a serious gleam in his eye.
— Inside the high gates of International Technology Park — one of Bangalore’s sleek IT office complexes -– employees make top salaries. Just outside, women bend to sweep the street with ancient-looking, hand-woven brooms. They might make $2 a day, tops.
Erich Bridges is senior writer for the Southern Baptist International Mission Board.