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Urban development

A fast growing city

by Lea Diehl

In brief

Fishing boats and tourists in Mangaluru.

Fishing boats and tourists in Mangaluru.

Mangaluru is a south Indian city with around half a million inhabitants. It is the main port of the state of Karnataka and about 350 kilometres west of Bangalore (now officially called Bangaluru), the state capital. The city is the capital of Karnataka’s Dakshina Kannada District.

Mangaluru is one of India’s fastest growing cities. It is not a megacity, but many sectors are already highly developed. The city is well known for its industrial base. Important petrochemical and chemical companies, including the German multinational BASF, and technology companies, such as the Indian software firm Infosys, have production sites and offices here. Because of its industrial opportunities, people are moving to Mangaluru from the rural areas.

Unfortunately the local government isn’t doing enough to adapt the infrastructure to the current development of the city. Like their counterparts in many other Indian cities, many citizens feel that the local Urban Development Authority has not achieved much in recent years. To a large extent, urban development depends on initiatives taken by the central government.

The climate is tropical. The port handles 75 % of the Indian coffee and cashew-nuts exports. Thousands of inhabitants depend on fishing for their livelihoods. The literacy rate of the city is high (94 %). Mangaluru is a college town: many Indian as well as foreign students are moving to the city for higher education, especially to study engineering. Its population is diverse. The inhabitants have different cultural and religious backgrounds: most of them are Hindus, but there are also substantial Muslim and Christian communities. In South India, the share of Christians tends to be higher than the national average.


Lea Diehl studies cultural anthropology and philosophy at Marburg University and spent eight months in Mangaluru as a weltwärts volunteer in 2011/12.
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