Monsoon mayhem: Modify Gurgaon, or else…
Sameer Kochhar Download pdf
Responsiveness, efficiency and accountability: these are the three factors that may, nay will, ensure that the Bharatiya Janata Party, under the leadership banner of Narendra Modi will make inroads into Gurgaon. A millennium city, Gurgaon represents all the facets of an urban village—poor infrastructure, no sewage facilities, no groundwater management, bad urban planning—a list of woes that can go on and on!
While it is true that development problems continue to plague every emerging urban centre—and Gurgaon is no different—what is being ignored is the fact that the millennium city is today generating revenues that meet a bulk of Haryana’s expenditure needs, especially when it come to the Government’s social programmes. But like all seasonal phenomenon like the monsoons, the infrastructural woes of the residents of Gurgaon too find only a seasonal mention in the developmental plans of the State Government.
Again, while it is easy to dismiss Modi for promoting a radical developmental agenda, the fact remains that growth has percolated down to the grassroots. Thus, if it was Gurgaon that had become the face of the success of India, drawing in investment in sectors as diverse from information technology to automobiles, today it is Gujarat that is replicating its model, and doing it more successfully.
And it is this that may help the BJP, guided indirectly by Modi, to make inroads into what for long has been a Congress Party bastion. For supporters of the Congress it could be possible that such inroads may not be sufficient to dent their power centres, but they must realise that unless corrective action is taken, these dents could make big holes in their vote banks. Gurgaon today represents a story of the development of a metropolis going horribly wrong. It also highlights a basic flaw in the Indian governance system of where a citizen has little, albeit, no voice.
Consider this, it was well known to the administration, the government and the local civic authorities that the monsoons, a seasonal but annual event, were likely in the third week of June. That the weather gods chose to shower their blessings a week earlier, saw these governmental functionaries take shelter behind sandbags, passing the blame of readiness or preparedness to departments that they should have been working with. And one must not forget that like the monsoons this is a seasonal, but annual, practice.
Responsiveness, efficiency and accountability: these are all words that derive their meaning from OUTCOME. The traditional meanings of a Government — Government is file, governance is life; government is all about power, governance is about empowerment—have little meaning to the common man if there are no outcomes. What people are today looking for – supposedly a Modi-sponsored agenda, but a good one if it is – is a model where the public are part of governance and not one of which they are considered to be accessory to.
So, if residents of a colony in Gurgaon, for example Sushant Lok, moot a development plan that benefits not only themselves but also others in the vicinity, the local administration must ensure that it also becomes an active player in such a programme. It is participation by people and consensus building that make up the elements that ensure inclusion and inclusive growth.
(The author is chairman of skoch group and an independent industry analyst)
Courtesy: The Times of India, Gurgaon Edition, 19th June 2013