As someone who has grown up in Gurgaon it is hard to imagine the place that is home to funky hang-out spots such as ‘Molecule Air Bar’ and ‘Downtown Beer Café’ was once nothing but acres of farmland. In fact, it is even harder to imagine that Gurgaon gained its title as the Millennium City during my lifetime.
This alga like growth in service sector industries has been a direct result of the government loosing its policies affecting Indian’s tariff and duties on exports and foreign investment.
It all started in 1997 when General Electric became US’s first company to outsource its software work to India. DLF, an Indian real estate company, persuaded Jack Welch about benefits of setting up office in what was nothing more than a village near Delhi back then.
The rest, as they say, is history.
From banking to automobile to telecom, almost all important brand names have an office in Gurgoan. This has led to the creation of about half-a-million new jobs and India owing about 50% market share of worlds IT outsourcing industry.
But before you start imaging an American sit-com scenario with lots of road side food stalls and auto-rickshaws; remember with more employment comes more income.
A rise in employment has led to a rise in young professionals disposable income. With few to no dependents and a lot of cash at hand, rising demand has made Gurgaon an entertainment hub.
Now Gurgaon is the mall capital of Indian with high-end global brands such as Canali and Bottega Veneta setting up shops here. There has also been a surge of international food companies such as Burger King and Dunkin’ Donuts’ opening restaurants in Gurgaon’s most significant mall, Ambiance.
That’s not all, there has also been an increase in cultural activities throughout the city. For instance, the Epicenter has been home to great productions such as Colour Blind with Bollywood star Kalki Koechlin and famous Pakistani theater group Ajoka. Plus, Kingdom of Dreams not only an entertainment destination, home to food and fashion shops from around the globe but also host’s All India Dance and Drama Festival every year in November. Gurgaon has also been home to one of India’s biggest art fair-The Art Exhibit 2014-which showcased works of various contemporary artists from eight different galleries around the country.
However, it is not just fun and games.
In a city of skyscrapers, it is important to acknowledge that some people are deprived of basic facilities such as functioning sewage systems.
Gurgaon is a prime example of what happens when development is fully privatized.
Companies like Genpact are trying to help develop the city and fill in infrastructure gaps left by the government. Yet It is important to understand that these facilities are only available for those who can afford them i.e. educated urban-professionals. This excludes about 40% of the population living in the city.
This great income gap has led to a rise in crimes such as armed robbery and theft. In fact, so much so that Gurgaon’s safety index is astoundingly low at 34.42.
Growth is a holistic phenomenon which trickle downs into various aspects of a society. In Gurgaon’s case, economic development gave rise to cultural growth. It then becomes important to have an open dialogue about insuring that this growth is available to all strata’s of the society.