Millennium city Gurgaon and quaint Haryana

Truth behind the spin


Savitri Jindal,  India’s richest woman, is Congress nominee.

Glitzy malls, towering IT hubs and sprawling auto manufacturing units mark Gurgaon’s meteoric progress from a once small farming village to the global outsourcing and offshoring hub.

Drive 20 minutes out of the city towards Nuh in Mewat district and the contrast between the Millennium city and rest of Haryana begins to sink in. Shanties replace sky-scrapers, lofty malls give way to petty “parchoon” shops, hustle and bustle of Gurgaon melts into lazy ambience of countryside. Mewat remains one of the most backward regions in the state and was carved out of Gurgaon as a separate district in 2005; probably fittingly because it took much of the sheen associated with brand Gurgaon.

That today’s high-flying Gurgaon, should even be part of traditional, caste-oriented and often socially regressive rest of Haryana seems nothing less than a chimera.

Not far away from Gurgaon’s world of pubs, malls and snazzy lifestyle is the real Haryana where women sporting long veils slog it out in the fields as men perched on cots while away their time smoking ‘hookah’; where young men are finding it hard to find brides owing to notoriously low sex ratio - a byproduct of indiscriminate female infanticide; where regressive “khap” (clan) panchayats issue diktats for killing boys and girls who dare to fall in love.

“Yes, there is Gurgaon and there is rest of Haryana and they are two different worlds. Sadly, even old and major cities like Hisar and Rohtak have failed to develop on the lines of Gurgaon or Faridabad,” says Subhash Sharma, a social activist.

Today Gurgaon mainly and Fairdabad together contribute nearly 50 per cent of income tax revenue of Haryana.

Even the state finance minister Birender Singh recently alluded to the skewed development of Haryana pointing out to certain pockets of high development surrounded by lack of infrastructure and industry and poor civic amenities.

In contrast to Gurgaon, dubbed as the BPO capital of the world, which thrives on IT, retail, auto manufacturing and real estate industries, the rest of Haryana remains mainly an agrarian society.

Surely, proximity to the national capital, Delhi, has worked in favour of this Haryana city.
Gurgaon was firmly put on the world BPO map when GE Capital International Services set up its shop in 1997. Hordes of foreign firms looking to outsource and offshore their operations soon joined the bandwagon leading to exponential growth of the city. The city has also become an auto manufacturing hub with Maruti Suzuki, BMW and Hero Honda setting up their units here.

If one travels to Sirsa, Hisar and Bhiwani, the three districts from where most chief ministers of Haryana – the famous trinity of Lals - have hailed, the contrast between Gurgaon and rest of Haryana becomes stark.

Sirsa, the pocket-borough of the Devi Lal clan (Om Prakash Chautala and Ajay Chautala) remains a backward township known mainly for cotton trade. Bhiwani, the hometown of Bansi Lal, has little to show but for its international boxers, who recently came to limelight after Olympic glory. Hisar was well nurtured by Bhajan Lal but apart from Jindal’s sprawling steel factories, there is little else in the name of development.

However, the mushrooming growth of Gurgaon has taken its toll and chinks in its shining armour are beginning to show up. The sudden growth of the city has taken a heavy toll on its infrastructure and civic amenities. There is perennial shortage of power and crime has shown a marked uptrend. And no better time to highlight the ailments than the current assembly elections scheduled for October 13.

Aware citizens have started a citizen movement, Mission Gurgaon Development, to highlight the problems facing the city which include poor roads, poor drainage system, lack of power and unregulated traffic. Many resident welfare associations have in fact put up an independent candidate, R S Rathi to highlight political apathy to their problems.
“I have no political agenda but to demand better amenities for the people of Gurgaon city. We feel betrayed by the treatment of political leadership which has done nothing for the common man even as multi-national companies are thriving in the city,” says Rathi, an engineer by profession.

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