Democracy appeared in the west where industrial and economic growth, fuelled by cheap resources from their colonies, furthered the concept of social equity. However, in other parts of colonized Asia and Africa, democracy was ushered in conditions when states already struggling under challenges of inadequate infrastructure, rundown economies, poverty, illiteracy, unemployment and disease. These large populations were expected to grow economically, create justice and equity by following western world's concept of democracy. Most of these attempts at self-governance and development, slowly led to benevolent dictatorships and autocratic regimes.

India has resisted the temptation and has thus evolved as the sole exception, worldwide.

Here, democracy emerged in an economy where agriculture was the predominant means to generate employment, where the economies of scale conflicted with India's growing population, aspirations and fractured land holdings. Hence, industrialization became the only solution, which in turn fuelled migration and meant creating new cities along with social and transport infrastructure around industrial hubs. This development raised issues of land ownership, people displacement, employment, empowerment and economic growth. Instinctively western solutions were attempted without recognizing that urban planning methods in those societies had already shifted people from center stage and were based around the movement of vehicles and a dream of life around cars. Wherever replicated in Asia, it enhanced more concerns than it mitigated. The resultant shape of some of our cities bears testimony to our culture of mindless western ideas transplant. Asia breathes differently and India emotes even more differently. We, at Metro Valley, believe in a contrarian concept of development created around the nature of our society, its aspirations and the needs of its people. Hence our solutions, to be developmental and inclusive, have to evolve out of an understanding of our own culture, social needs, behaviours and lifestyles, groomed in our social and cultural ethos.

With a small tax base (since agriculture is non-taxable) and growing expectation for employment and better civic infrastructure, coupled with

  the financial requirement of the Government to generate resources to create improved infrastructure solutions creates the challenge of finding the right model of planned development. In India, industries have been catalysts for creating new townships and cities around themselves. Industrial Township planning models must have a local context, be primarily driven by the very people it is meant to serve; their life, their working, their hopes and their fears involved in their daily living. Such townships, we feel offer even greater opportunities for social redefinition. They must encourage education, skill upgradation and enhance employability. They also have the ability to create economic solutions not as replacement for human values and social vacuums but by social empowerment and inclusion of all people including the original landholders along with all the industry stakeholders and beneficiaries.

One of the earliest examples such vibrant growth of an Industrial Township was Gurgaon in the very early eighties, with Maruti Udyog and subsequently Udyog Vihar were the catalyzer. Manesar Industrial Area evolved from the learning of the Government's earlier industrial development experiment in order to upgrade and enhance the spread of Gurgaon city driven by a more holistic industrial development model. However, connectivity became a bottleneck of this ambitious project as the highway began expansion. Employment began to dwindle as investments fell. Accessibility became an opportunity deterrent. In the meanwhile post 2003, land prices in Gurgaon zoomed northwards due to influx of investors from Delhi. First Malls, then commercial and concurrently residential property became the prime driver of Gurgaon's economic proposition. Industry took a back seat and Manesar suffered in both importance and achieving its desired objectives.

The current pro bono strategy exercise began initially, on a 1000 acre plot in IMT Manesar, earmarked for residential and social activities, where a new kind of master plan development exercise was attempted by Metro Valley which found favour with the authorities. Upon acceptance of the initial strategy document by the department, Mr. Y.S. Malik, a painstaking perfectionist who heads the Department of Industry
  spent considerable time sharing experiences and issues of changing expectations from a static plan document. Thereafter, Mr. Tarun Bajaj, the Managing Director of HSIIDC engaged with us explaining in great detail the bottlenecks being currently faced. This enhanced the role of Metro Valley. We were asked to re-look at the existing plan and restructure it in the context of its failings to reinvigorate the whole area to enrich its employment potential and delivery systems through a redefinition of its urban plan. The report is an attempt to do justice to the unflinching commitment of the man and his brief.

The attempt in this document is to create a lead by example people focused model, which encompasses diverse human, social, environmental and cultural solutions, which are related to everyday work, life and play; based on basic Indian philosophy of creating more from less. The focus of this attempt is to create social rights through creating transparent and diverse opportunities for different strata of the stakeholders on a common platform of facilities and amenities to create a more homogeneous society mix and a more equitable industrial cityscape. When implemented it is expected to enrich quality of daily human work life environment and the standard of living of the participants while being a role model for others. Only then would it rivet global attention and debate and only then Indian democracy will be seen to throb at grassroots and be nurtured in an accessible and living form through dynamic socio-economic urban solutions. Unlike the west where industrialization led to democracy, HSIIDC through its composite city of tomorrow can truly nurture the architecture of democracy through its new planned urban industrial environment. Thus HSIIDC can create a solution out of what has been perennially seen as a problem.

This Metro Valley developmental initiative stems from its concern for creating a new kind of urban infrastructure, less demanding on our natural resources, where multi tasking of spaces leads to their optimum utilization. This unique plan which took over an year in making, is intended to design a new language of development by strengthening the roots of democratic rights and causing social empowerment through democratic reach of its benefits, equitably.
Satya Sheel
Managing Director
Metro Valley