The churn of money between Jayanagar and villages in Tamil Nadu keeps the 9th Block market running

“Traders in the Jayanagar 9th Block market would give stockbrokers a run for their money,” says Bhuvaneswari Raman, a researcher who studied markets in Bangalore at the turn of the millennium. She refers to the money flow between the various strata of traders in that area that has kept the market going for decades.

The two access lanes leading in from the Outer Ring Road at East End are full of shops selling clothes — not necessarily hep ones, but cut pieces for sari blouses, inner skirts, unbranded vests and a range of shawls. These stores are interspersed by bakeries, juice and snack shops for the famished shopper.

Juggling cash flow

“Those shops are owned by the original landowners there,” Bhuvaneswari explains. “Once you go in, the first lane of the market is fruit stalls and the lane parallel to it is vegetable vendors. These are run by people who migrated to the city over 50 years ago from the dry western districts of Tamil Nadu.”

According to the traders, the market was formerly a place where several orchards thrived. “In the 1970s, we were relocated here from K.R. Market,” informs Doreappa, a vegetable vendor.

“When they were moved, they rented places owned by the local landlords, who acted as moneylenders for their business too,” Bhuvaneswari says. “They would borrow anything between Rs. 20,000 to Rs. 1 lakh at a time, but invest only part of it in their daily business. The rest, they would invest in land in their native villages, where they are the more affluent class, having worked in the city.” The constant churn of money between a village in western Tamil Nadu and Jayanagar keeps this market running despite three malls having come up all around it.

Staying afloat

The place has been a one-stop-shop for residents of many south Bangalore localities. “I find the fruits and vegetables here fresher than those available at the supermarkets. It is something of an all-purpose market,” says Meena Murthy, who has lived in BTM Layout, J.P. Nagar and Bannerghatta Road over 15 years.

“But, lately, with inflation and increasing rentals, the traders are just surviving. Their flow of money is not as regular as before and there has been no growth in their earnings,” Bhuvaneswari says.

For instance, Doreappa says his daily earnings have come down to a mere Rs. 1,000 on many days. According to Bhuvaneswari's research, each trader needed to spend between Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 5,000 to set up shop.

The protector

The traders have other things to worry about too. There is pressure on them to move and vacate the space for parking and traffic.

In 2000, the idea of beautifying Bangalore became popular. “It was sought to sanitise the city, make it more organised, and evicting roadside vendors and open markets were part of the scheme,” Bhuvaneswari says.

“But, the more powerful local landlords here, who had set up their own shops selling clothes and other things in the access roads, prevented the eviction. After all, they needed the market to survive to run their business too.”

“The police still regularly come by to warn us not to encroach upon the roads. They threaten to remove us from our spot,” laments Lakshmi, a vendor who has been earning her living here for the past 50 years.

“So, even though these traders may have their native lands to fall back on and are better off than those at other markets, their condition is not very stable,” Bhuvaneswari says.

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