It is the hub of all things corporate. The business is booming, the development is all encompassing. Industry players and experts are confident that Gurgaon has all that it takes for a city to become the financial centre of any place if a few things are taken care of


If it was not for the industrial and corporate activity way back in the 90s, Gurgaon would have remained a sleepy small town situated close to the capital of the country.But as luck would have it, this quaint little town has today become a powerhouse of multinationals and industries across segments. A major corporate hub of NCR, it figures prominently on the business scene with real estate, IT, manufacturing sectors growing by the day,but does it have the potential to become the financial capital of Haryana or for that matter the NCR?


Anshuman Magazine,Chairman & MD, CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd, explains, "Gurgaon already is a key growth driver for the state of Haryana and the entire National Capital Region.Being the hub of real estate activity in the region,Gurgaon has a vast base of multinationals, industrial corporations, institutions and commercial enterprises.


While the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) Act in 1957 prohibited any large scale private development activity in Delhi,Gurgaon originated as a result of private sector initiatives. In more than a decade,commercial office stock in Gurgaon has grown from a meagre 2 million sq ft to almost 35 million sq ft, housing some of the biggest global enterprises and posing a major challenge to existing CBD." Considering the fact that the country is emerging as one of the economic superpowers of the world, further industrial and financial growth is the only way forward. Retail market is opening up to international players. The western world may be having second thoughts on whether to outsource work to Indians and Chinese, yet inexpensive but qualified labour and cost savings continue to be the reasons bringing companies from across the world to India. And, cities like Gurgaon are the first choice of these investors.


Even when it comes to Indian companies,they prefer to be in the vicinity of Delhi, yet not in it thanks to increasing office rentals and space crunch.All this makes Gurgaon stand in good stead. Partha Basu, CFO and Whole-time Director,Akzo Nobel India, a leading paint manufacturing company, points out the advantages that a city like Gurgaon holds, "It has strong location advantage as it has proximity to New Delhi and strong connectivity, robust urban planning,high quality infrastructure at affordable prices, availability of talent which helps in smooth operation of business and everlasting development, spreading much beyond the current city limit, among many others." He elaborates by adding that the areas of operation in Gurgaon cover all segments, so there is something for everyone. He says, "The one unique advantage that Gurgaon has is the presence of all businesses which makes it easy to connect and do business. So you'd have everyone from financial services operations with back-office of banking, insurance and asset management companies, capital market and trading, private equity, hedge funds and of course IT Services among other things."


There is no doubt that the growth of this region has been immense, now eventually also benefiting the nearby areas of Manesar, Bhiwadi, Sonepat and beyond too. Sandeep Goyal, founder and CEO of PackagingConnections, a research and consultancy firm in the packaging industry, is emphatic in his assertion that Gurgaon can be the financial hub of Haryana.But,he feels it is time the Millennium City is accorded the status it should have got by now.He suggests,"All the regulatory bodies need to move to Gurgaon and not stay in Chandigarh or at least have a branch office with better turn around time.


Basically, Gurgaon needs to be treated like a state capital owing to the rapid growth and investments happening here. While we call it NCR, it should also be treated like one and not part of another state. Many laws here are rigid.And of course,better open entertainment places for general public."


Point taken. All said and done, there are still certain concern areas that are a pre requisite for any financial capital in the world.The physical infrastructure in terms of roads,transport,security,etc., are issues that need to be addressed.Industry experts believe that while the city has the potential to take on the mantle, it can't be done without taking into account the basic amenities and improving the same. Udit Mittal, MD,Unison International,one of the leading HR companies in India,deals with human resource and getting people hired for the right job. Though people do tick Gurgaon as one of the cities they would like to work at,he expresses fear at the fact that of late this trend is on a downside.He shares, "The fact that Gurgaon is the hub of all corporate offices, big and small and that the standard of living is quite high. However, when a person shifts to a city to work and live with his family,he also is faced with issues like basic infrastructure, safety issues and also traffic. A cosmopolitan urban centre that our Millennium City is, it is imperative that the administration urgently diverts its attention to get cracking on the negatives it so that the businesses don't start looking for options to move out from here. Things should only get better now, not worse." Echoes Partha Basu of Akzo Nobel India, "Core infrastructure like road, drainage, master planning,transportation, electricity and water supply should be the backbone of the infrastructure in Gurgaon and must be developed with utmost urgency."


Industry players are of the view that for Gurgaon to become the Mumbai of Haryana or NCR at large in terms of its being called as the financial capital, what it needs to do is follow the example of the maximum city.Anshuman Magazine of CBRE South Asia Pvt Ltd, suggests, "Gurgaon has amongst the highest per capita incomes in the country, besides


Chandigarh,Mumbai and Delhi. However, it fails to offer a world class support infrastructure to global corporates to establish it as their leading regional headquarters. A focus on transport, connectivity, power, telecom and basic infrastructure would help enhance Gurgaon's profile against competing cities like Noida, Chandigarh, Bengaluru and Mumbai. The local government has also been largely focused upon the IT/BPO sector as a leading propeller of regional growth. This approach needs to change and a comprehensive policy regime seeking to set up a financial centre like the Bandra Kurla Complex in Mumbai needs to be developed and implemented on an urgent basis."


If these suggestions are seriously thought over, there would be no trouble in giving it a turnaround to make the corporates stay put and also offer new businesses an opportunity to develop right here. Sandeep Goyal of PackagingConnections sums up, "I think there are definitive opportunities here as we are in the corporate hub and home to big multinationals and conglomerates.Better access to airport than some parts of Delhi has also played a contributory role in growth. This also offers small business an opportunity to set shop and run successfully. There is also an opportunity where infrastructure can be improved for families to bring up their children like affordable educational/sports schools. Hope the government bodies do something in this regard."

-ET
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