I love Gurgaon: The melting pot of people and cultures | gurgaon | Hindustan Times
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I love Gurgaon: The melting pot of people and cultures

I LOVE GURGAON’S INCLUSIVENESS: Waves upon waves of migrants since Partition have contributed to making the city the real estate, IT and business hub it is today

I Love Gurgaon Updated: Jun 06, 2017 10:00 IST
Sharad Goyal
A number of migrant workers are employed in the industries of Udyog Vihar.
A number of migrant workers are employed in the industries of Udyog Vihar.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

Gurgaon has a history which goes back to the days of the Mahabharata. This village, as the legend goes, was given to Dronacharya by the Pandavas and this is the reason it was recently rechristened Gurugram. The city also finds mention in accounts of the Mauryan period and the Kushana rule.

During the Mughal and the British period, Gurgaon emerged as an important grain market but the real expansion of gaon to Gurgaon began with the country’s Partition. While this land of Drona witnessed mass migration of Muslims to Pakistan, there was also a huge influx of Hindu refugees from Pakistan.

Large camps were set up in small towns at Bhim Nagar, Arjun Nagar, Madanpuri and other parts of the city close to Sadar Bazar and since then, Punjabis have been a big part of the city’s growth story.

They came after losing everything during Partition and set up base here. However, the locals were equal to the task and accepted them warmly. This is the reason why the Punjabi community and people from different communities, who made Gurgaon their home over the years, enriched the city both culturally and economically.

Here, there is little debate or divergence of opinion on faith or cultural identities. The only issue that matters to the residents and drives public discourse in the city is its prosperity and growth.

I think Gurgaon is blessed because in spite of decades of indifference, we have grown as one of the wealthiest cities of the country. More than half of the revenue earned by Haryana is generated by Gurgaon.

Though Gurgaon saw slow growth initially, it got a booster shot in 1966 when the state of Haryana was formed and Gurgaon became a district. The real spurt came in the 1980s when Maruti and its ancillary units set up shop in the city.

While Maruti spun thousands of jobs, hundreds of smaller companies that also set up base in the city became its vendors. Professionals from across the country came to Gurgaon and thousands of labourers also found work. The influx of aspiring professionals and migrant workforce made for quite a transformation.

Haryanvis from Bhiwani, Hissar, Jhajjar came in large numbers and set up trucking, hardware, sanitaryware and related businesses. They flourished as the city witnessed industrial growth. People from other states came and found jobs in various phases of Udyog Vihar. This phase also saw the initial strides made by real estate giants who were to rewrite the future of housing in the entire country.

People from across the country and abroad have made Gurgaon their home but there are very few instances of tension or conflict between the local population and migrants. There are no debates centering around locals or ‘outsiders’. Everyone who comes to the city becomes a part of the community. There have been no clashes or conflicts in the name of religion. Despite being so close to Delhi, which remains the country’s political hotspot, Gurgaon has been an oasis of peace.

During the dark days of terrorism in Punjab, a large number of business families migrated to Gurgaon and set up business. These families have since prospered because the city offers a safe business environment and gives confidence to investors. The much-documented economic liberalisation in the nineties also served as a major shot in the arm for Gurgaon’s economy. IT and IT-enabled services redefined Gurgaon and announced its arrival on the global stage.

By the turn of the century, there was a noticeable surge in jobs in the BPO (business process outsourcing), KPO (Knowledge process outsourcing) and LPO (Legal process outsourcing) sectors. People employed in these sectors pulled day and night shifts and they inadvertently opened up avenues for cab operators, security guards, malls and restaurant owners to make a living around them.

Given the proximity of the city to Delhi, a large number of IT companies set up base here. The city is now considered the second-largest IT hub after Bengaluru.

A surge in the city’s population also fuelled the real estate boom that led to creation of a new Gurgaon.

The residents were witness to the creation of a composite culture as new customs, traditions and cuisines were introduced to the city.

Who would have thought that the city will, someday, celebrate Lohri, Durga Puja, Bihu, Ganesh Puja, Pongal, Chatth, Onam, Eid and Christmas with equal fervour. People subscribing to different faiths have turned the city into a melting pot over time.

The city’s population since the 1980s has grown by 50% and that of the villages by 35% in the decade — both are among the highest in the country. This wouldn’t have been possible without the contribution of migrants, who worked hand-in-hand with locals in shaping the city’s future. People here are free to do what they want and engage in business of their choice. This is the beauty of Gurgaon.

(Sharad Goyal rose from being a petrol pump attendant to owning three petrol pumps in the city. He is also a social activist.)