• Atul Sobti
  • India
  • Jun 12, 2015

Counting down to our 200th. issue (June 19), we are featuring some early (2011) Editorials on Gurgaon

As Gurgaon grows up to become a modern global city - a city 
that others would look up to, it should  find it worthwhile to take some lessons from its siblings, parents and senior relatives. It should not wish to ignore history, and thus be doomed to repeat it - either through ignorance or arrogance. New Delhi is the parent, always near at hand. Like the Capital, Gurgaon too has an Old and a New. The Capital fairly ignored the old, which led to an isolated and under-developed ‘Old’ Delhi - a Delhi that the modern offspring hardly ever visited - except as a pass-through to college. Let us not repeat that mistake…and regret. Delhi is civic run by 2 agencies - NDMC and DDA….and never the twain have met. We have imbibed well, and done one better, with separate HUDA, MCG and PWD areas...and none of them having any real power. We are effectively run from Capital Chandigarh. Delhi has been rarely run well enough, civically. But Delhi was always good at playing Games for its benefit – first in 1982, and then, just when the benefit of that had almost played out, in 2010. Since we may not benefit from Games, we need to find our own answers to the crumbling infrastructure – both on the road, and under. Our estranged brother, NOIDA, although not as successful, has got some things right – especially in terms of a focus on public infrastructure first (versus our private construction first and last). It is also run by a single nodal civic body, the Greater NOIDA Authority, headed by a CEO. We also should pay heed to elder cousins Rohtak and Bhiwani, which are rumoured to enjoy special status and are being given botox. Many others, both in India and without, can also trip us up.

Of most significance perhaps are the lessons from Mumbai.  As an adult, almost independent now, Gurgaon has followed more in the footsteps of a senior successful Tau, Mumbai. What Mumbai is to the Maharashtra family, Gurgaon is almost so to the Haryana family - the milch cow, the golden goose. We are a fast growing commercial hub, with very noticeable white-collar employment, on top of an old industrial base. Like Mumbai, Gurgaon is a land of opportunity, beckoning folk from across India -  who come more with moolah, than stars, in their eyes. Gurgaon does not have a Gollywood or Gullywood yet! Mumbaikars, in hindsight, may wish to have done things differently, in terms of being more local (stoking affiliation & pride), employing more locals, finding alternatives to slums and clamping down early on crime syndicates and ‘illegal’ immigrants. Maybe then there would have been a different avatar of the Strike, Shiv Sena, Dharavi and Bhai. Gurgaonites, and our administrators, need to pay heed. Our transitory, temporary residents - and there are many - have (maybe expectedly) no real affiliation or pride in being Gurgaonites. They are just happy in the moment, and work will take them elsewhere soon. On icons - human or otherwise – while we have no film stars, business magnates, Marine Drive, Gateway of India or Juhu beach to show off...hamare paas Maall hai! 

Our Historical Suburb
There is this land to our north, ruled by another Head of State.  It is of similar patronage, yet different. It was once a prospering, happening city. Once, many of us lived here and worked there. Then it reversed – many who lived there began to work here…and also partied here. Now, rather than bothering with long travels, many have crossed over fully – they also live here. Gurgaon is happening. Delhi is not missed. We go to Delhi for a short nostalgic trip - to get away from it all; to see how the old folk are; to see how India lived (and still lives) in places called DDA flats. And also to see some greenery. Yes, a monthly trip to the suburb is good for the soul. Their culture is different – with lots of State patronage....and many State & National celebrities. It is a city that was given Capital status (over Calcutta). However, despite that, it never really was numero uno –Bombay stole that thunder. Delhi’s pride was in India Gate and CP – which unfortunately are now remnants, forgotten by even most Delhi-ites. South Delhi has been upstaged by us; the West is happy being the West Delhi Trading Co.; the East finally was considered part of the Commonwealth of Delhi after the Games; the North, though the ‘original’ Delhi, is distant - only college kids dare to travel there. There once was industry in Delhi. Yes, it’s today hard to imagine, and anyway very hard to spot. Delhi now qualifies more as a city of traders. It has ‘seasoned’ residents - bureaucrats and politicians of all hues, as also of a completely different age. Time has passed them by. Delhi was also a Millennium City once. We must never forget our past…even if today it is just a suburb.

The Z generation
I am a millennium child. Born in Gurgaon on January 1, 2000. In the land they call India. I really do not know much of this land. Or even how it looks (though the smell needs disinfectant and a deo). From my bedroom window I sometimes see some movement - mostly cars. My weekdays are predictable: school and home, computer and laptop, mobile and iPad. Weekends just flash past – with movies, eating out and playing. Ok…predictable. My parents tell me odd stories of how they grew up in a town the other side of this country. Of houses without ACs…in fact a life without much of electricity! No computers, no mobiles. There was even a time in their lives when colour TV was a luxury, and a washing machine non-existent! Maybe that is why this smell will not go away. They say that life is still like that in many parts of India. In fact there is this other side of this city that I am told still lives in those times. We have to change our name! We are the Z generation. Always awake. Operating on a global timeline. We reside and work in Gurgaon, the G(lobal) City. Boy, the pay here is good, life is good…and all of India is here. Even the ‘whites’ are flocking here. It can only get better by the time I start working. Would I even need to? The only bad spot is ‘on the road’; the scene outside is gross - potholed roads, traffic jams, piled up garbage, animals…and people! Why can’t we just have everything within our complex? If we can have a gym, a club and a shop, and so much is available on call and delivered home, why is it so difficult to have a school, restaurants, a cineplex and a Metro station inside? Why can’t we just detach from Gurgaon? We are anyway the Divided City of Gurgaon – separated by the e-way. Welcome to G City, the future of India.  What Gurgaon does today, India will do tomorrow. (Smug) 



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