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ClearSay

A City with Almost No Government


[by Scott Swain] 
 
The city of Gurgaon, south of New Delhi, India has flourished with less than a bare-bones municipal government for about forty years. Over the past twenty-five years, the city has grown over 1600% to a current population of over two million. 

Many might ask, "But without government providing basic services like electricity, water, and sewage, how does it get done?" Apparently, quite a bit better than in the typical Indian city: As of 2013, 6% of State-run cities in India have working sewage systems where Gurgaon has 33% coverage, provided by various private developers.

These same companies provide diesel-powered generators to weather shortage, safety in the form of 35,000 security guards, and even a fire station.

Gurgaon isn't all peace and flowers. In the areas of the city where private companies have no sway, the areas between Gurgaon's seven "private cities", the state-provided services are like most other Indian cities where funding can't keep up with the population's needs. These are the slums where residents suffer from water and power shortages, violence, and unsanitary conditions.

Some might blame the companies providing utilities and security for not offering these services outside their "private cities". I'm not going to argue the morality or ethics of this. What I will say is that there is an obvious positive side effect of these developments: As these developers grow, it is in their best interest that "unowned" areas of the city become more secure. If a private security force patrols a ten square mile area, there is a "halo" effect some distance outside that area where violence is reduced. If a building adjacent to buildings you are paid to keep safe catches fire, it is in your best interest to put the fire out before it spreads to your buildings. If gangs roam a street adjacent to your streets, it is in your best interest to expand your awareness and actions at least some way into those "unpaid" areas. Initially, the developers found it in their best interests to set up sewage systems on a "per development" basis but as they build more developments, a larger and more comprehensive system will become affordable and even necessary. As the size and scope of these systems grow, the more affordable it becomes for more companies and areas of town to "tie in" or "buy in". When the stink of sewage knows no boundaries, it is in everyone's best interest to "help a neighbor out".

Finally, right now Gurgaon could be characterized as seven private towns competing for residents and workers. Seems to be working. Especially when you consider: 

Dec 2013 report: Credit rating agency Crisil confirmed that newbie Gurgaon has emerged as the most prosperous city in India, leaving the country's financial capital Mumbai way behind. Using ownership of consumer durables as a measure of prosperity, Crisil found Gurgaon has the largest proportion of households with all basic gadgets, including a computer or a laptop. 

Jun 2015: Plans for new highways, roads, and a metro rail system.

Aug 2015: Booming businesses, including restaurant, delivery, house maids, and rickshaws & taxis.

 Contact Scott Swain for mediation and Emotional Intelligence Tools training for business, love, and parenting.