An "ease of living index" released by the Urban Development Ministry aims to measure the well-being of citizens in 111 cities. 49 indicators of quality of life, economic-ability and sustainability under 13 categories were measured. The aim of the index is to accelerate India's urban development and guide evidence-based policymaking. It also works to promote healthy competition among cities. The city that ranked the best with a population of over one million is Bengaluru.
While there is no debate on the weather, medical facilities, education and jobs, there is another face of the city which has made the headlines - its often terrible traffic, garbage woes and polluted lakes.
The civic infrastructure has not kept up pace with the Garden City's rapid growth, giving rise to some cynicism over the ranking. But the criteria considered for the ranking are the reasons why the city made the cut.
"My first reaction was to chuckle a bit. Because like most Bengalureans and many cynical citizens, we tend to underplay and be self-effacing about what good our city is. But on second thoughts, when I went through the reports, the ease of living as against the municipal performance index were two different things," said Priya Chetty, partner at Multiversal Advisory.
"Ease of living depended on quality of life, economic ability and sustainability - it makes it much more understandable as to why Bengaluru would score so high. The city's beauty, its weather, access to education, pre-eminence with technology. The proof of the pudding is that people are still milling to Bengaluru as a city," she said.
"It is a matter of great pride that Bengaluru is number one in the ease of living index. We have our own set of problems - increased traffic and pollution and lack of urban infrastructure. These things are true. But it is also true that the city has been a magnet for people across the world," said Srinivas Alavalli of Janaagraha.
The authorities are giving themselves a pat on the back.
"Bengaluru has emerged as the most livable city in India in the Ease of Living Survey conducted by @MoHUA_India The Bengaluru model of development of citizen-centric initiatives and delivery of services have ensured the top ranking of #Bengaluru," Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa tweeted.
Bengaluru has emerged as the most livable city in India in the Ease of Living Survey conducted by @MoHUA_India. The Bengaluru model of development of citizen-centric initiatives and delivery of services have ensured the top ranking of #Bengaluru. @PMOIndia@HardeepSPuripic.twitter.com/DNTNhhQYPP— CM of Karnataka (@CMofKarnataka) March 4, 2021
"Yet another step towards #EaseofLiving. Now you don't have to visit an RTO to renew your Driving License or apply for change of address. More than 18 RTO services can now be availed online," Karnataka Health Minister Sudhakar K tweeted.
Yet another step towards #EaseofLiving. Now you don't have to visit an RTO to renew your Driving License or apply for change of address. More than 18 RTO services can now be availed online. #MinimumGovernmentMaximumGovernance@PMOIndia@nitin_gadkarihttps://t.co/jRZJ7fiAYd— Dr Sudhakar K (@mla_sudhakar) March 5, 2021
"Bengaluru is an education hub. Weather is very good, especially compared to other cities and states. Law and order are very good... It is a very decent and liveable city," Karnataka Mines and Geology Minister Murugesh Nirani told NDTV.
The ease of living index includes a citizen perception survey with a weightage of 30 per cent. Many residents do feel their home city is the best bet.
"It is the most liveable city and we have the most loveable situation also. We have all kinds of opportunities, be it education or job. The only thing is traffic, and pollution is increasing now. When I travel to other states, I would love to step into Bengaluru, when will I step into Bengaluru," a resident, Jagadeeshwari, told NDTV.
Another resident said, "Except traffic, Bengaluru is number one city."
The remaining 70 per cent is made up of 13 other criteria such as health, housing, education, green spaces and recreation.
For many Bengalureans, the dramatic change in the city has been for the worse - and they question what other cities are like if this is the easiest to live in. But the ranking has also given rise to a feeling of pride - and hope that things will get even better.