Of All Places, Why Bhopal?
Why Bhopal? The answer is simpler than tougher. However, the issue is severe: Why start a business in Bhopal?
And that makes this article more interesting and complicated since the facts about the city are flatly unknown to most non-Bhopalis. Through this, I also mean to touch on the root of the definition of a city. It apparently is the motive behind our local information portal: What is there that we want to bring into Bhopal as a city which it doesn't have (a defined medium), through what it already has (the human and the technological resources)? Anyways. The question still exists: what is a 'city'?
Relying on some dictionary meanings and some definitions from renowned institutions, a ‘city’ stands for a large and densely populated urban area; includes several independent administrative districts; has cultural diversity; is more politically important than towns and villages; has some degree of self-government; or conglomerations of self-governing units. One very interesting definition read: a city is where you should be able to feel somewhat anonymous and be able to do things without the whole place knowing about it before your own family knows. Makes complete sense to me. Who wants to live a celebrity life in a small town? And between this, comes Bhopal: A city spread over an area of more than 285 sq km, with a large population of almost 15,00,000 (in words, approx one and half million human beings. Or 1.5 M prospective customers?).
Unfortunately, people outside know little about Bhopal. Worse, they know the ‘city’ only for the Bhopal Gas tragedy (1984), and for no other advances ever since. Though a massive gas leak entirely being a considerable phenomenon, there’s a lot more to the history of this place. Bhopal - being set up in the early 11th century by a Hindu king and then re-founded by an Afghan emperor - has the combined beauty of the two different cultures (and eventually, the better out of the two). Though not really being a point here, for a prejudicially city-biased dumb like me, Bhopal has it ‘all’! Royal city infrastructure and a well-governed administration system (being the capital of the state of Madhya Pradesh), along with the best scenic beauty, green roads, and a pollution-free climate accompanied by almost 26 registered big and small lakes inside the city!!
Considering the aspect of starting a business here, it leads me to one more dictionary meaning that finds a city as the ‘center of population, commerce, and culture’. Madhya Pradesh (excluding Chhattisgarh) is not the most developed state industrially, there’s a lot for an entrepreneur to do. The growing infrastructural and IT industry is a healthy sign for newcomers (like me, my partners, and our company) to flourish. There’s always an advantage to late-comers in learning from their predecessors’ mistakes. When not all your clients are at par with all the technologies and concepts, you have your own margin to err and considerable room to correct yourself as well, all in time. For establishing oneself as a business individual, what better place would you prefer? Our company is recognized at the local level. However, as individuals, we have our own free social space. What more do you need out of your life? It’s like being ‘a big fish in a small pond’ than fighting for survival and existence in bigger places (to start with). You see, it means something when I introduce myself as a director of a company and that is considered, and looked upon with respect. At least it feeds my ego well.
Cost-effective routine solutions, cheaper labor, prime geographical location (absolute center of the country) giving the best connectivity to any corner of India, a big human base constituting the right prospective-customer-platform for our dotcom product, unlimited technical human-resource (from 24 explicitly recognized degree-engineering colleges in the city - any other form of colleges apart), are some to list the key reasons to be in Bhopal. If this was less, recently, the CM (Chief Minister of the state of Madhya Pradesh – Mr. Shivraj Chauhan) called for a direct meeting with the IT people from and outside Madhya Pradesh. It was a meeting for inputs from the corporate officials as well as local small-big IT players, for redefining the IT policy of the state. The IT minister of the state was personally taking inputs from all and this means SOMETHING. For those who can’t appreciate it, it should be known that the bureaucracy and complex political system in India is at such an extreme that it’s next to impossible for an entrepreneur to ever have a direct conversation with the CM of a state. It was so motivating! To add to it, Madhya Pradesh happens to be one of the most respected states for its e-governance initiatives and implementation in urban as well as rural areas.
Back in late-2003, our very own Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani told while addressing an internationally esteemed delegation in India Today’s Concave India: 2003, that: “Some say India is a country with a billion problems. I say India is a country with a billion opportunities!” It’s how we look at things. Let the glass be half empty or completely so: there’s always a scope to fill some space!
As one gentleman recently said, “An Indian not in India today, is missing on something”. Not very sure, about life outside India. But yeah, an Indian in India, not contributing to the development is missing an opportunity. An opportunity, which will never turn back to you, since India-2020 is going to be India - with no looking back! It’s the chance to correct the past and pour your maximum for the perfect future, bringing golden history back. And what better fun, than working in a developing field (of a not-so-less-developed area) for developing with the nation?? Find me a better place than Bhopal, and we start working there from tomorrow!! (Okay, I’m joking. Not completely though.)