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Best cities for business

Infrastructure creation is doubtlessly being touted as the balm of salvation for our metropolises, but what if it becomes unviable to use those fancy expressways, viaducts, flyovers and suspension bridges?

     Print Edition: September 7, 2008

Picture this: BY 2020, Mumbai and its extended suburbs are a dizzying maze of flyovers and expressways that go on and on. Entwined around skyscrapers whose terraces hang hidden in the clouds, the concrete jungle may not be pretty, but it never fails to elicit gasps dripping with awe from the thousands of immigrants who (still) troop into the country’s financial capital every day. Visitors to the megacity can’t help but marvel at the smooth and orderly flow of traffic through the labyrinths of sixand eight-lane roads and ramps that start at Colaba in the south, snake over the Arabian sea, and end some 100 km off Greater Mumbai limits, well into what was a rural, agrarian Konkan pasture only a decade ago.

Mumbai tops again
Mumbai tops again
If the traffic’s moving smoothly, it’s not just because of the countless wide and runway-like roads that meander across the Mumbai landscape, almost like random strokes of a painter’s brush. The traffic’s humming without a glitch also because there isn’t much of it on the road. That’s because few are keen to drive their cars out on these endless tarmacs of immaculately laid-out thoroughfares.

Few are keen to drive because few are willing to shell out a small fortune for petrol and diesel. Crude oil, the commodity whose supply woefully outstrips demand in 2020, has crossed $300 a barrel, and is still rising. Electric trains, buses and even the humble cycle have become the average Mumbaikars’ vehicles of preference.

And thank heavens somebody had the good sense to build those elevated sky walks, which ensure that walking in the midst of steel and cement is still a pleasure. Sounds like one of Nostradamus’ doomsday prophecies? Perhaps, but it’s an eventuality worth losing a few days sleep over.

After all, when much of the initial phase of infrastructure creation began a few years ago (or some 15 years before 2020), oil prices were ensconced in the sub-$30 per barrel region. If there was a scramble to make the big cities a moveable feast with flyovers, it was on the assumption that affordability of fuel wouldn’t become an issue.

Hindsight is, of course, a wonderful thing, but then that’s why foresight, though rarer, is brilliant. What if spiralling oil prices—coupled with ancillary inflationary pressures around consumers— makes driving a luxury that’s increasingly elusive, and the wonderful flyovers and expressways just shortsighted marvels of fanciful engineering?

One could argue that infrastructure creation is a necessity, and the US has progressed as far as they have on the back of a frenetic buildup of road connectivity. True, but the only difference is that when such construction activity was under way in the West, supply of oil outstripped the demand for it. Unlike the situation today.

It’s against such a backdrop that Business Today’s Best Cities for Business may not remain that way for too long. They just can’t. By 2020, perhaps it will be time for a few newly-created special economic zones (SEZs)—a la Shenzhen and Pudong in China, although that may not be a model that is to be followed blindly, either—to creep up on the Best Cities list, along with a few names that are neglected rural outposts today. In fact, with Mumbai clambering to the top of the list with almost mindless monotony, the Best Cities for Business makes lesser and lesser sense year after year. Till the stock exchanges, banks, financial institutions and headquarters of India’s biggest corporations continue to reside in Mumbai, few businesses worth their balance sheets would consider venturing away from the commercial capital; never mind that it’s rotting at the seams. If someone can create such alternatives from scratch, one has a substitute to Mumbai. It does, indeed, make more sense to build mint-new cities than to improve connectivity to the decaying ones. Here are some of the top business cities

Lucknow & Kanpur: Against all odds

Despite negative perceptions about law and order and poor infrastructure, two cities from Uttar Pradesh—Kanpur and Lucknow—rise buoyed by positive consumer and investor sentiment. Do they denote a glimmer of hope for the rest of UP?

Bangalore: Back # 2

Its infrastructure may be creaking at the seams, but a slew of recent improvements have ensured that India’s ‘Silicon Valley’ is back among the top cities.

Delhi: Capital challenge

No doubt the city’s infrastructure is improving, but its satellite towns are still a mess and, worst of all, crime continues to be a serious problem.

Chennai: Can it cope?

India’s southern-most metro has been receiving lots of IT and auto industry investments.The big question: is the city capable of handling such explosive growth?

Bhubaneswar: Catching up with the big boys

A slew of big-ticket investments in Orissa is transforming its capital from a sleepy tourist town to a glitzy business destination.

Mumbai: The sun hasn’t set, not yet

Mumbai might be the maximum city with most people surveyed voting for it as the best city to do business in, but it’s among the toughest cities to live in.

Surat: Moolah city

Booming industries, a unique demographic make-up, the entrepreneurial skills of its populace, and a pot-pourri of cultures all contribute to make Surat the city with the highest average household income in the country.

Bhopal: A Beautiful Little Boomtown

Below the radar of the national media, Bhopal is industrialising rapidly and emerging as an increasingly important manufacturing hub.

 CEOs and IndustrialistsSelf-employed professionalsSenior ManagersPolicy makersSpouses of executivesB-School studentsOverall score
Base : All Respondents       
        
MUMBAI
7.44
7.59
7.42
7.44
7.58
7.29
7.47
Delhi
7.37
7.39
7.36
7.19
7.46
7.24
7.34
Bangalore
7.46
7.50
7.39
7.24
7.43
7.25
7.40
Chennai
7.34
7.37
7.30
7.34
7.33
7.17
7.33
Hyderabad
7.17
7.23
7.15
7.05
7.38
7.10
7.18
Kolkata
6.86
6.79
7.01
6.85
7.12
6.85
6.89
Ahmedabad
6.85
6.61
6.81
6.63
6.97
6.79
6.76
Pune
6.88
6.54
6.70
6.42
6.99
6.72
6.70
Surat
6.61
6.41
6.48
6.26
6.77
6.40
6.48
Nagpur
6.39
5.96
6.20
6.01
6.31
6.16
6.17
Jaipur
6.54
6.12
6.33
6.06
6.42
6.38
6.30
Kanpur
6.50
6.24
6.34
6.01
6.46
6.30
6.31
Lucknow
6.33
6.07
6.20
6.02
6.37
6.29
6.20
Indore
6.19
5.89
5.97
5.75
6.29
5.88
5.99
Patna
5.87
5.74
5.76
5.78
5.96
5.73
5.80
Bhubaneshwar
6.12
5.81
5.96
5.76
6.31
5.88
5.96
        
Weights given for oevrall score to the various segments
0.25
0.25
0.15
0.15
0.10
0.10
 

    

Overall Ranking

   
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
Mumbai
MUMBAI
MUMBAI
 2
Bangalore
Delhi
Bangalore
 3
Delhi
Bangalore
Delhi
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Chennai
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata
 7
Pune
Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad
 8
Ahmadabad
Pune
Pune
 9
Nagpur
Surat
Surat
 10
Surat
Nagpur
Kanpur
 11
Lucknow
Jaipur
Jaipur
 12
Jaipur
Kanpur
Lucknow
 13
Indore
Lucknow
Nagpur
 14
Kanpur
Indore
Indore
 15
Patna
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 16
Patna
CEOs and Industrialists
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 1
MUMBAI
Bangalore
Bangalore
 2
Delhi
Mumbai
MUMBAI
 3
Bangalore
Delhi
Delhi
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Chennai
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Pune
 7
Ahmedabad
Pune
Kolkata
 8
Pune
Ahmadabad
Ahmedabad
 9
Surat
Surat
Surat
 10
Jaipur
Nagpur
Jaipur
 11
Nagpur
Jaipur
Kanpur
 12
Lucknow
Lucknow
Nagpur
 13
Kanpur
Kanpur
Lucknow
 14
Indore
Indore
Indore
 15
Patna
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 16
Patna
Self-employed Professionals
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
MUMBAI
Bangalore
MUMBAI
 2
Delhi
Mumbai
Bangalore
 3
Bangalore
Delhi
Delhi
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Chennai
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata
 7
Pune
Pune
Ahmedabad
 8
Ahmedabad
Ahmadabad
Pune
 9
Surat
Nagpur
Surat
 10
Indore
Indore
Kanpur
 11
Nagpur
Lucknow
Jaipur
 12
Kanpur
Surat
Lucknow
 13
Patna
Jaipur
Nagpur
 14
Jaipur
Kanpur
Indore
 15
Lucknow
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 16
Patna
 
Senior Managers
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
MUMBAI
Mumbai
MUMBAI
 2
Bangalore
Bangalore
Bangalore
 3
Delhi
Delhi
Delhi
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Chennai
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata
 7
Ahmedabad
Pune
Ahmedabad
 8
Pune
Ahmadabad
Pune
 9
Surat
Nagpur
Surat
 10
Jaipur
Surat
Kanpur
 11
Kanpur
Kanpur
Jaipur
 12
Lucknow
Indore
Nagpur
 13
Nagpur
Jaipur
Lucknow
 14
Patna
Lucknow
Indore
 15
Indore
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 16
Patna
 
Policy Makers
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
MUMBAI
Mumbai
MUMBAI
 2
Delhi
Bangalore
Chennai
 3
Bangalore
Chennai
Bangalore
 4
Chennai
Delhi
Delhi
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Pune
Kolkata
 7
Ahmedabad
Kolkata
Ahmedabad
 8
Pune
Ahmadabad
Pune
 9
Surat
Nagpur
Surat
 10
Jaipur
Lucknow
Jaipur
 11
Indore
Surat
Lucknow
 12
Nagpur
Kanpur
Kanpur
 13
Lucknow
Jaipur
Nagpur
 14
Kanpur
Indore
Patna
 15
Patna
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 16
Indore
 
Spouses of Executives
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
MUMBAI
Mumbai
MUMBAI
 2
Delhi
Bangalore
Delhi
 3
Bangalore
Delhi
Bangalore
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Hyderabad
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Chennai
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata
 7
Ahmedabad
Ahmadabad
Pune
 8
Pune
Pune
Ahmedabad
 9
Nagpur
Nagpur
Surat
 10
Surat
Indore
Kanpur
 11
Patna
Jaipur
Jaipur
 12
Lucknow
Lucknow
Lucknow
 13
Jaipur
Surat
Nagpur
 14
Kanpur
Kanpur
Bhubaneshwar
 15
Indore
Patna
Indore
 16
Patna
 
B-School Students
 
Ranking for year 2006
Ranking for Year 2007
Ranking for Year 2008
 
 1
MUMBAI
Mumbai
MUMBAI
 2
Bangalore
Delhi
Bangalore
 3
Delhi
Bangalore
Delhi
 4
Chennai
Chennai
Chennai
 5
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
Hyderabad
 6
Kolkata
Kolkata
Kolkata
 7
Patna
Pune
Ahmedabad
 8
Indore
Ahmadabad
Pune
 9
Nagpur
Indore
Surat
 10
Ahmedabad
Nagpur
Jaipur
 11
Jaipur
Surat
Kanpur
 12
Lucknow
Jaipur
Lucknow
 13
Pune
Lucknow
Nagpur
 14
Kanpur
Patna
Bhubaneshwar
 15
Surat
Kanpur
Indore
 16
Patna

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