Shopping malls are still a distant dream for other major towns of Madhya Pradesh. One obvious reason is that they don’t have as many rich people to splurge money as Indore has. There are socio-cultural reasons too. Take for instance the State Capital. It has islands of opulence in both new and the walled city. The old city boasts of ‘Khandani Raees’, some of them direct and indirect descendents of Nawabs.
The new Bhopal is witnessing a burgeoning population of nouve riche. Then, of course, bureaucrats are also here as potential big spenders. Yet, the culture of shopping mall hasn’t caught the fancy of Bhopalites. Forget malls, even the big and swanky shopping complexes that have sprung up in the last couple of years have failed to evoke encouraging response.
Since it became State Capital in 1956, Bhopal earned a rather disparaging sobriquet as” Babuon Ka Shahar”. That image, however, is changing. The change is visible in all spheres- social, economic, educational and cultural.
But the cumulative effect of the change has not impacted basic characteristics of the city so much as to vie with Indore in lavishness.
Indoreans are outgoing and fond of showing their money. Bhopal has yet to match this trend with Indore. Actually, Bhopal ‘s sudden growth is largely attributable to retired government servants coupled with floating population that came to settle here, attracted by the City’s picturesque ambiance, peace and good connectivity across the country.
This is not a splurging business class. Despite being State Capital, Bhopal has not got an opportunity to develop as a major industrial town.
Nevertheless, a couple of shopping mall projects are in the pipeline. An industrial group is planning to acquire land for a mall in the heart of the city. The Madhya Pradesh Housing Board (MPHB) is also toying with the idea of a similar project in the New Market, the area where it has plan to acquire land for big commercial activity.
Jabalpur’s socio-cultural profile is entirely different from Indore’s. Jabalpurians love to berate Indoreans as too much ‘money-minded’. This, of course, is more out of jealousy than genuine aversion for extravaganza. Much as Jabalpurians might yearn to splurge like their Indore counterparts, they are still hamstrung by the social mores of a ‘big village’.
Entire Mahakoshal is devoid of big industries. If Indore has Mumbai as a model to emulate, Jabalpur has none. Despite having created a sizeable class of middle-rung entrepreneurs post-liberalisation, Jabalpur has not yet amassed enough wealth to sustain shopping malls in profits. The city still wallows in its middleclass ness.
Gwalior is different from Jabalpur in cultural and from Indore in financial sense. Gwalior shares Maratha culture with Indore but, unlike Indore, its way of life is influenced by Delhi. Therefore, politics dominates more than finance in Gwalior’s collective consciousness. Besides, a combination of deterrents like dacoity-menace, easy excitability of gun-wielding people and lack of an industrialist class has kept Gwalior away from shopping mall dream.
(Inputs fron Bhopal bureau)