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Gurgaon: From Mythic Village to Millennium City

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Back of the Book For the inspirational migrant, rich or poor, Gurgaon is the Millennium City, with its sleek malls, sky-scraping condominiums, safe and gracious gated colonies, tenement housing, and life-changing jobs. For corporations, it is the Mecca of opportunity, as countless Fortune 500 companies have flocked to its business towers and parks, at once spacious, elegant and convenient for doing business. For its older residents, a more intriguing fate could not have befallen their sma...
Back of the Book

For the inspirational migrant, rich or poor, Gurgaon is the Millennium City, with its sleek malls, sky-scraping condominiums, safe and gracious gated colonies, tenement housing, and life-changing jobs. For corporations, it is the Mecca of opportunity, as countless Fortune 500 companies have flocked to its business towers and parks, at once spacious, elegant and convenient for doing business. For its older residents, a more intriguing fate could not have befallen their small town.

For the media it is the city that makes headlines, often for the wrong reasons - brawls in pubs, crimes against women, dubious real estate transactions, mega traffic jams.

But Gurgaon's existence began as an obscure hamlet, and it has had several hoary incarnations before it acquired its present density, industry, wealth and civic fabric. It is this tangled tale, more thematic than chronological, that this book tells.

About the Author

VEENA TALWAR has been witness to Gurgaon's astonishing evolution for over twenty years. This volume is the first ever rigorously researched narrative of the city's making that speaks to readers of modern history, audiences compelled by Gurgaon's bewildering growth and the very people who made it their home - now and for generations to come.


From its obscure origins as a hamlet to its present-day status as India's Millennium City, the story of Gurgaon is a long and eventful one. In 2010, when a station of the Metro line connecting Gurgaon to Delhi was named 'Guru Dronacharya' after the resident sage in the Sanskrit epic Mahabharata, it was a reminder that this city, with its sleek malls, towering residential and corporate high-rises, and its Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, had several hoary incarnations before it became the microcosm of a rapidly urbanizing India.

Gurgaon's transformation covers the entire arc of Indian urbanization and yet, it has been ignored as a subject of history.' his book is the first history of Gurgaon and will, it is hoped, become a fixture in every literate Gurgaon household and beyond to relate to adults and children the story of Gurgaon's making.' e media notices Gurgaon mostly when an untoward event occurs-like the flooding of its streets after a heavy rainstorm, or the oft-told tale of its poor and unfinished infrastructure. Today one can find information on Gurgaon, piecemeal, in a few scholarly articles, or on the Internet where official and media websites have proliferated, and even Wild'dia has an unedited, patchy entry on the city. This volume goes beyond scattered snapshots of the present that periodically appear in newspapers worldwide, and gives a layered and thematic account that connects this new dot on the global map to the history, economy, society and ecology that produced it. I've traced its forgotten antecedents and tracked the sweep of change that ends in today's startling megalopolis with its hurriedly changing way of life, demographics, civil society, consumerism, architecture, and infrastructure.

Gurgaon's unprecedented growth has left city planners dazed and paralyzed, and conflicts and collaborations have emerged between private developers, politicians, bureaucrats and middle-class residents. The lack of water and electricity, unfinished roads and incomplete infrastructure, and its exploding migrant population, all reflect the larger national trend of hard-pressed agricultural labor moving to cities that offer jobs and better living conditions. It many ways, it is modern India's apt metonym and the emerging model for how a partnership of corporations and government authorities might prove dynamic and fruitful.

Gurgaon has defiantly rejected its image as a suburb and is fashioning an urban identity of its own on an ambitious scale. Worldwide media reportage, fiction, films, and more than two dozen blogs share vignettes that dwell on its jarring contrasts-palatial houses of millionaires on leafy streets screen temporary shanty towns; cows meander on freshly painted zebra crossings; open drains, an inadequate sewerage system and ubiquitous litter exist side by side with the well-tended lawns of gated residential towers with round-the-clock power (some of it privately generated) and water supply.

In roughly two decades, its urban sprawl has engulfed some fifty-odd villages as Gurgaon has expanded and real estate prices have soared. The natives-Gujar herdsmen, Jat peasants, and Yadav traders and workers-are now a minority; they resent the flood of poor Bengali, Bihari and Rajasthani migrants all the wealthy middle-class professionals. Yet, for the city to thrive, it is totally dependent on the services of these very natives and the migrants. These conflicts and convergences are creating a modern epic.

It is important to make clear, though, that this is but a layperson's history. In analyzing the bewildering and interlinked themes, trends, issues, events and actors of these past three decades, I have tried to tell the intriguing story that conjured present-day Gurgaon in my own voice, and often inflected with my personal experiences and opinions in the decades that I have known it. I have not written this book for academics, so it has no review of the literature that exists on Gurgaon, just passing references of a few works I found relevant to my narrative. It is written in plain language for the people of Gurgaon, or at least its English-reading public, the majority of who are strangers who migrated to Gurgaon in this period of its hectic development and might be curious about the city they find themselves in. It has no scholarly pretensions or jargon but it still is grounded in extensive research I did for about five years before I put pen to paper. It is especially for the young-the `millennial'-people who were born here and have grown up in this strange yet familiar place, where they are exposed to its glamorous side and in their hurry, cannot explore their curiosity about what lurks in its shadows. I do not think this history can be comprehensive or even complete-it is impossible to keep up with a city that is still growing at so rapid a clip. Gurgaon changes every day; its politicians and bureaucrats, builders and citizens are in a triangulated relationship, often a three-sided tug of war, to shape and control its future. Its landscape adds features even as I write, things I saw half-finished are now complete, but I couldn't return to update things. I have, therefore, chosen to focus on the main trends and grasp the forces that created it. So, there will always be events, places, and people who are clearly part of this history but time and space defined what could have been included. And isn't history a point of view of the facts, interpretive and opinionated? This is clearly my own interpretation of what I encountered and cobbled together. 

Contents and Sample Pages

Item Code: NAQ579 Author: Veena Talwar Oldenburg Cover: PAPERBACK Edition: 2018 Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers ISBN: 9789353020347 Language: English Size: 8.50 X 5.50 inch Pages: 326 (25 Color Illustrations) Other Details: Weight of the Book: 0.3 Kg
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