Yet outsourcing is thriving in Gurgaon, anyway. Last year, a leading Indian industrial association determined that outsourcing was directly and indirectly responsible for about 500,000 jobs in Gurgaon. Companies still gravitate to Gurgaon because the city’s commercial space is more modern, more abundant and far cheaper than that in New Delhi, while Gurgaon is also a magnet for India’s best-educated, English-speaking young professionals, the essential raw material in the outsourcing business. And there is the benefit of a concentration of expertise: in the past decade, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Motorola, Ericsson, Nestle India and other foreign and Indian companies have opened offices in Gurgaon.
Still, Ms. Srinivasan said, the lack of government support is frustrating. She recently returned from a new Genpact operation in the port city of Dalian, China. There, she said, local officials “are doing everything to keep companies like ours.” Asked if the government in Gurgaon was equally responsive, she shook her head.
“In India, it is not because of the government,” she said, explaining how things get done. “It is in spite of the government.”
Sudhir Rajpal, the wiry, mustachioed commissioner of the new Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon, has a long to-do list: fix the roads, the sewers, the electrical grid, the drainage, the lack of public buses, the lack of water and the lack of planning. The Municipal Corporation was formed in 2008, and Mr. Rajpal, having assumed the city’s top administrative position a few months ago, has been conducting a listening tour to convince people that government can solve their problems.
It is not an easy sell.
One recent morning, his audience was a few dozen farmers in Badshahpur, one of the villages absorbed into the sprawling new territory of the Municipal Corporation. Most are actually former farmers, having sold their land to the developers constructing the office parks and apartment towers now ringing the village. Many of them had bought new cars or new plots of land or invested in the new developments. They were now richer. Their frustration was their village. It was becoming an urban slum.
“The drains are broken and accidents are happening,” shouted one man. “Yet no one is answerable! There are problems and problems. Whatever water we get is dirty, but we have nowhere to complain.”
When India’s public and private sectors are compared, the contrast is usually stark: the private sector is praised for its efficiency, linear command structure and task-oriented ethos; the public sector is condemned for its opacity, lack of accountability and the fact that often no single agency seems in charge. Even as many Gurgaon residents hope that the Municipal Corporation can improve services, others worry that its authority is too limited, given that state agencies will maintain authority over licenses and infrastructure.
In Haryana, developers make campaign donations to politicians and exercise enormous power. Critics say graft and corruption are widespread. Many developers have disregarded promises to construct parks and other amenities. Meanwhile, state agencies like HUDA operate with little accountability. Civic leaders say more than $2 billion in infrastructure fees collected from Gurgaon have gone into HUDA’s general budget without any benefit to the city.
“They used that money somewhere else,” said Sanjeev Ahuja, a veteran journalist in Gurgaon. “The government thinks the private sector will take care of the city: ‘People are rich. If they need water, they can buy water.’ ”
Some people hope Gurgaon’s new municipal council, which was elected on May 13 to oversee the Municipal Corporation, will create a political voice for the city capable of forcing action. Eventually, the Municipal Corporation is expected to assume responsibility for providing services in all of Gurgaon, yet some residents are leery of the change.
Santosh Khosla, an information technology consultant whose family moved to Gurgaon in 1993, has services provided by his developer, DLF. He said DLF had broken numerous promises and did only an adequate job of delivering water and power. Still, adequate is tolerable.
“I’m certain that if it goes to the government,” he said, “it will be worse.”
Citizens Speak Up
Col. Ratan Singh, his military beret placed neatly atop his head, has arrived at a busy intersection in the midday sun for what he calls “an agitation.” He is 82, an Indian Army veteran who has decided that private citizens need to incite a little conflict in Gurgaon. Demonstrations are common in Gurgaon, and he is leading a protest against shoddy work by a contractor.
“Every day some agitation is taking place,” he said, shouting above the din of traffic. “People are not satisfied.”
If people should be satisfied anywhere in India, Gurgaon should be the place. Average incomes rank among the highest in the country. Property values have jumped sharply since the 1990s. Gurgaon’s malls offer many of the country’s best shops and restaurants, while the city’s most exclusive housing enclaves are among the finest in India.