Surat drives ahead leaving behind quake
The first thing that strikes you as you enter this city is life spinning around. The bustle and dynamism of people passing through is obvious. Surat's residents and the huge migrant labour force move with purpose, struggling to get a step ahead. The new Surat typifies what Chief Minister Narendra Modi describes as "sunshine company".
If there is one election issue here it is Surat's new trajectory. The city runs on hard cash and quick kills.
The plague and the earthquake in 2001 sparked a long-overdue beautification campaign to get rid of old Surat's slums.
The result is a city with gleaming sky-scrapers, slick shopping plazas, multiplexes, flyovers and a little away from the city, towards the coast, the big industries — Reliance, IPCL, ONGC, NTPC and Kribhco.
All these, Suratis agree, has been due to the efforts of their three-time BJP MP and Union minister Kashiram Rana.
"He took on Modi and got an airport (still under construction) for Surat," says Darshana Jardosh, a BJP corporator.
But in its drive to move ahead, Surat has left behind its history. The spindles in the famed zari industry now mostly lie idle. The textile industry is in doldrums and the internationally famous diamond trade is sluggish.
The zari workers, of the Rana community, work on their spindles three days a week compared to the earlier six days.
The weaver community is also going through troubled times. And the diamond traders of the city are also facing an international downturn in international demand.