Santosh Hegde, who took on the might of the Reddy brothers of Bellary mines with his Lokayukta report; Bollywood beauty, talent and enterprise like Aishwarya Rai, Shilpa Shetty and Sunil Shetty; flamboyant (and currently flailing) businessman Vijay Mallya; illustrious writer Arvind Adiga—the list of Mangalore’s icons is endless. Beyond the glamour, what has put Mangalore firmly on India’s economic map is the spirit of enterprise and its reputed educational institutions (though one’s eyes may boggle at the capitation fees charged by some of them).
Yet, despite competition from many replicas the originals stand tall, whether in education or banking, two areas where Mangalore has carved a niche. When India nationalised 20 banks in two phases, four of them—Syndicate, Canara, Vijaya and Corporation—were from south coastal Karnataka. Situated on the west coast, Mangalore, part of the Madras presidency during the British rule, came under Mysore administration post-Independence. It says much about the enterprise of the region that despite neglect by the new administrators, Mangalore became a hub by the 1970s.