Why the rest of Delhi left behind the south
Census details for Delhi are out. From car-owning households to phone connections and Internet access, the city-state has seen all such “indicators of development” register robust growth between 2001 and 2011. And that is not surprising as everything has worked for Delhi to gain more than most other parts of country from India’s sweeping economic transformation over the past two decade.
The puzzle lies, however, in the area-wise variations in the numbers.
East Delhi has advanced the most, and south the least. Car ownership has increased from one in six households to one in four — now on par with West where mostly businessmen live. The trans-Yamuna district — mostly inhabited upwardly mobile middle class migrants — now has highest share of households, 36% and 23%, with computers and Internet connections.
In contrast, the share of car-owning households has increased from 17% to 22%. About 32% and 20% have computers and Internet access respectively.
These numbers corroborate the commonly-held perception that the urban, especially metro-based, Indian middle class has benefited the most from the economic change of the past two decades. They also underscore the uneven distribution of the new wealth as also how certain demographies and sections of the society have been left out of the journey of new India.
The first question that comes to mind is this: why is south Delhi lagging despite being home to the poshest neighborhoods of the city. The answer, perhaps, lies in the fact that not everyone, rather a large number residents, in South Delhi have been able to seize the opportunity that has come their way. This could be particularly true of the Muslim-dominant areas of Jamia Nagar, Kotla Mubarakpur, Hauz khas as also the migrant labourers’ hubs in Lado Sarai, Madangarhi and Baarpur. In fact along almost every affluent neighbourhood of South Delhi lies a shanty town, a village or settlements that remain caught in time warp. And they have become a drag on the aggregated statistics for the region as a whole. Education, aspirations and social consciousness, one would say, emerge as the key differentiators between south and the rest of Delhi.