The Metropolis and the Diaspora: Bangalore Property Market

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Metropolitan Market property CPR

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Dr Aurélie Varrel

Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research

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An analysis of the investment circuits fueling the growth of the real estate corporate sector in India cannot ignore the role of the diaspora, as India has been the first receiver of remittances in the world for almost one decade. Purchasing land and a house “back home” are common goals for migrants, and the well-off segment has not been immune to the property fever that has caught India. The diaspora also comes to the fore when one examines the development of this sector from the demand side. There is ample empirical evidence of the major role given to the diaspora / Non Resident Indians’ customers by the corporate sector of real estate, especially in the residential segment for a long time (Nijman, 1999; King, 2004). Yet urban studies and diaspora/transnational studies are domains of research that have largely ignored each other in the Indian context, but for some historical insights (Blunt & Bonnerjee, 2013).

This presentation will examine to what extent the desire to attract this specific source of transnational capital has (re)shaped partially the Indian real estate corporate sector, with a perspective from the South Indian metros, especially Bangalore. Developers have had to develop original, country-specific strategies to tap this source of capital, which has structured a distinct transnational market. This has turned migrants into city-makers in return to a certain extent. Nevertheless, the dependency on a reserve of customers located abroad also exposes this ethnic niche to the indirect effects of multiple changing local / national / international contexts and regulations, which makes it a fickle segment of the otherwise already highly volatile real estate market. This presentation is based on material collected in Bangalore and in the UAE since 2014. It has been partly funded by the French National Agency for Reserach (ANR) as part of the research programme Finurbasie (Financing Urbanization in Asia).

Aurélie Varrel is a CNRS researcher in Geography. She has been with the Centre d’Etudes de l’Inde et de l’Asie du Sud at Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris since 2010. She is currently secunded to the French Institute of Pondicherry, in the Department of Social Sciences. She holds a PhD degree (Geography) from the University of Poitiers, France. In her research she brings together migration studies and urban studies, with the aim of articulating a socio-spatial understanding of the contemporary transformations of South Indian metropolitan cities, especially Bangalore and Chennai. At the French Institute she is working on various topics, with a special interest for the urban fabric in Tamil Nadu.

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