Gurugram and I grew up together. Twenty years ago, I was the quintessential small town girl moving to the big city with big dreams. Hailing from a small north Indian city, Saharanpur, the little girl in me was initially a bit taken aback by the heat, dust, traffic and noise from the continuous construction in the new town. But those proved to be only momentary. Soon, we got happily sucked into the bustle of work and the tremendous energy and opportunity that this city offers came to the fore.
As per historical accounts Gurugram was gifted to by the eldest of the Pandava brothers, Yudhishthira, to his guru, Dronacharya. Maybe that’s why this city has been my guru too. It taught me everything I know about human ambition and what it can create once it’s unleashed. From the day I have shifted to the city, Gurugram has epitomised the unravelling of the Indian ambition in the post economic liberalisation era that has led to the creation of this massive and gleaming millennial city where once only villages existed.
Headquarters of several multinational organisations have come up in areas which were once wastelands. Hospitals, universities, schools, Metro trains exist where once only trucks plied spewing black smoke between Delhi and Jaipur. Gleaming tall glass skyscrapers now stand where huts and buffaloes wallowed in the mud.
This development has brought opportunities and jobs for the local people as well as businesses and investment for the city. Also, it attracted lot of migrants such as me. Today, the young girl who came to the city with dreams to make it big has become the Chief Executive Officer(CEO) of a multinational firm. A big credit for this achievement belongs to the city which made it all happen. No doubt, there were lot of challenges such as traffic, transportation infrastructure woes, an unforgiving weather, a society not used to working women, gender discrimination — you name it and I have faced it. But it is also true that dealing head on with these challenges has helped me become who I am today.
Gurugram is a young city. Our urban population is educated, cosmopolitan, globally connected and ambitious in a way no other Indian city can match up to. Massive growth in a short span of time has clearly led to a bit of lopsided development where infrastructure is playing catch-up with population and economic growth.
But to my mind, like those initial challenges faced by that little girl from Saharanpur, these civic challenges are also temporary if dealt with firmly. Hence, it’s all the more important to keep things in perspective and acknowledge this amazingly positive growth story that Gurugram has been and continues to be. The challenges have to be dealt with by the young residents of this city by volunteering and acting upon civic and workplace issues. I am sure this amazing city of opportunity shall ensure that thousands of young boys and girls will blossom into senior corporate and community leaders.
(Achal Khanna is a resident of Heritage City at MG Road)