by Rajen KumarIndia's Manufacturing Muddle
What holds Indias manufacturing sector at the back foot? Why the sector has failed to emerge from the shadow of a strong service sector which has recorded a creditable growth in the...
Special ReportsMar 2014
When you have just decided to go ahead and chase your dream of higher studies, the one you had sidelined for quite some time now, you realize the road ahead is not so...
Gurgaon – city of contrasts, slums, bpo, poor infrastructure.
When I visited Gurgaon first, some two decades back, on a friend's invite, who had built a dream house, the sight was similar. Re-assured he, that times would take away what was distasteful to sight! Two years later, when I went house hunting, the sight had not changed. The property broker was, as all of his breeds are, a wonder of a wordsmith. “Sahib, zara sochiye, jhuggian nahi hongi toh kaam karne wali kahan se aayengi ?”
My retort was pragmatic: “wah ! kya doh jama doh chaar kiye hain ?”. I did not buy the house for sure. The very out view kitchen window overlooked the unsavoury sight. Slum dog then was a word, alien to me as I presume, it was to others till about two months back when SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE, lent mind boggling money and melodious music to such dirty dots, with which no money wise realtor dirties his drawing board.
The caption of the photograph spilling from a page over to the left half reads: “INSIDE OUTSOURCING gated communities in Gurgaon keep modern India separate from its impoverished majority.” It's staid. But it does serve the purpose. It tempts the reader to the half a page story half of it is highlighted in 'thousands' of this; 'billions' of that; and 'percent' of whatever remains after the good, bad and worse of this and that of Gurgaon.
Take 10.7 percent, for instance. It refers not to Gurgaon but to India in its entirety. It's the rate of growth of services industry. The source of the survey? Not mentioned. But if it's the 'FORTUNE', who dare disbelieve it? Such services industry are outsourcing, communications, and trade which is further detailed as making up more than half of India's GDP though the icing is: 60% agriculturists have seen a 2.6% fall in growth rate.
Sometime in summers last year, a realtor colleague, sent across his conveyance for a near two hour drive to his office multi story complex, from my residence in South Delhi. I stepped out of his SUV with the usual fatugue bio-associated with high speed drives over the high and lows of a cross country highway. ( The express highway was awaiting inauguration, then ) Said the driver: “Bas kuch dino ki baat hai, phir kya drive hogi.”
But my son tells me “koi zyada farak nahi pada”. Besides, add “aana-jaana toll tax”. So “mehnga hi pada”. Still men and women, entrepreneurs and executives, old and young, travel to and fro. Jessi Hempel quotes that in software exports woth $ 4 billion are manufactured in Gurgaon which are 10% of India's total. And he credits the suburbia: “India's outsourcing industry was born here in 1997 with GE's BPO - GE CAPITAL”
It was a correction to my general knowledge. I always thought the birth of BPO was at Bangalore, followed by Hyderabad? Turning to the reporter's 'thousands': Says he that $203 thousand is the going rate for an apartment in Gurgaon's luxury condomoniums which have names like “Beverly Park, Central Park and Garden Estate”. He is right, despite the downswing in real estate at the NIFTY, and otherwise across the board!
But Jessi Hempel echoes every Gurgaon resident's (and my foresight of 1989 visit) that this $203 thousand doesn't, repeat doesn't, include utilities. To quote him: “With power outages, most residents and businesses rely on emergency generators.” I would replace 'most' from his sentence with 'all'. And before 'power', add 'water shortages, 'conveyance scarcity' and a disconnect with Delhi's Bus Terminus and Railway Stations.
The crunch. In 13 sentences, the enterprising 'Fortune' reporter sums up what Gurgaon was promised to be; what it promises to be, and what it has not turned out to be. I better quote Jessi Hempel for the perfect summing up. He starts: “Two decades ago, the Indian Government bought farmland and lured private developers to Gurgaon, a planned urban centre near Delhi that promised world-class roads, luxury buildings and entertainment…
“The satellite city exploded as outsourcing boomed; today two million people live here, while opulent parks house multinationals like Xerox, Dell, Accenture, IBM and Microsoft. But the residents complain that the Government hasn't kept up its side of the bargain.: An eight-lane highway that connects Gurgaon to Delhi floods during Monsoons; cars travel crawl through standstill traffic on pockmarked city roads……..
“This year the Government has said it will increase the drinking water supply, build new sewage-treatment centers, and add to its bus fleet. Indians and exparts who live here have heard those promises before.” Yes, Mr Hempel, the promises have been heard before. Those who migrated from Delhi are stuck. The expats are in any case migratory birds. It's just that I didn't shift base. And I won't. Especially on 2009 poll promises!
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The Last Word
January every year used to be the Great Film Month in Delhi. International Film Festival of India, IFFI used to take place a great get together of film buffs. Youngsters with a taste for the...
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