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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Gurgaon - Jaggery Village

Gurgaonhas a lot of potential. And by and large it offers a lot of advantages in comparison with other business hubs. In north india, I think this is the only relatively clean and decongested business hub with easy access to international airports, good hotels and well constructed and maintained office infrastructure. As a thumb rule, 1 square foot of office space added in a city requires 7 sq ft of residential space and in that respect Gurgaon seems to have a good enough plan. The available office and residential space is meeting the current growth rates and there seem to be no bottlenecks. In terms of connectivity and roads, it is good enough by Indian standards, and I dont think we should be comparing it to Singapore yet. The other factor that I found good in Gurgaon as compared to Noida is the work culture. It might be surprising to some, but my experience has been rather positive, the roadside mechanics, the rickshaw pullers, the small eating places and sundry small scale businesses are mostly hardworking and honest and do not attempt to rip you off or overcharge. There also seems to be less criminalisation and goonda'ism, though I admit, UP is not a good benchmark to compare. Also most areas are supplied with good drinking water by HUDA from its water treatment plant and the drains are mostly not stinking and uncovered like in Noida. There are wide open spaces, greenery and less open garbage. Electricity is a problem but nowhere as bad as in Noida, but worse than in Delhi/Mumbai/Bangalore. The streets feel safer too than Noida.

I had occassion to visit the nearby villages and I found them to be relatively prosperous and vibrant. The road and electricity network too was not bad at all. This is where I feel that Gurgaon might actually derive strength and grow. Unlike Bangalore or Hyderabad with starving farmers in the countryside around it, there is development spread out into the countryside too and the living standards are not bad. The people native to this area too are healthy and hardworking with a lot of pride and self respect. I think the only problem that can trip this growth up is either a water crisis ( since local sources of water are rare) or a power grab by vested interests and a breakdown in law and order. Electric supply too seems to have reached a critical point and it is a very crucial time now, as either it will get worse and go the Noida way or improve towards Delhi conditions.

I hope the government realises that most of this growth is from carpet-baggers, the floating capital and working class, which can anytime pack its bags and move on to the next new destination.

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