Besides being the capital city state, Delhi is among India'stop centres for business and trade. Doing trade is not only business in the capital city but a tradition here that dates back to medieval India. Along with Red Fort, Purana Qila and Qutub Minar and Jama Masjid, Delhi has places like Chandni Chowk, Khari Baoli, Darya Ganj, Sadar Bazar and Chawri Bazar.
These trading hubs are in the walled city and have remained a soul of Delhi for centuries. Trade and business always remained a part of the city culture, comprising poetry, eating habits and festivals. Not only the retail traders but people from all over the country would come and throng these areas for shopping and business.
As the city grew after Independence, retail business expanded to areas like Karol Bagh, Pahar Ganj, Kamla Nagar in the north while shopping places like INA, South Extension came about in the south at much later stage. Then the trading expanded further to south in Greater Kailash while a huge expansion of business was seen in the east of Yamuna along with mushrooming growth of population. The city'spopulation was something like 25 to 30 lakh in the fifties and in sixties it grew to over 1.5 crore and it had become a state in itself. Trade and business grew because the increasing population had to be catered to its expanding requirements. The city developer?the monopoly of the Delhi Development Authority built lakhs of flats (though sub-standard), developed colonies with independent plots and allowed thousands of cooperative group housing societies in east and west Delhi but left the growing needs of shopping centres and trade in the hands of a powerful builder mafia, which became so powerful and influential that the civic authorities including the Municipal Corporation of Delhi became a mute spectator for over five decades while the city was being defaced with no one holding any responsibility or accountability.
Then, like most other areas of governance where the UPA failed and the court had to intervene, here also the courts were approached to intervene. And the courts have intervened rather firmly against Delhi government and the Centre. The Centre went in and rushed with a half-baked legislation in Parliament which did not stand the scrutiny of the court.
The result is a big mess leaving everyone?shop-owners, big and small traders, and the citizens, including school children suffering. Nobody knows what to do. Nobody is incharge. Parents feel insecure about sending their kids to schools; shop-owners cannot open shops lest they would be looted by hoodlums.
Earlier, it was Chief Minister Shiela Dikshit and the MCD which had abdicated their responsibility. After buying and wasting time over a year, the Centre'sGroup of Ministers, headed by Shri Pranab Mukherjee, has also washed its hands off. The police force is miserably inadequate while para-military forces are being summoned to maintain law and order in Delhi.
Meanwhile, the so-called reformist ministers in the Manmohan Singh Cabinet are all smiles as they see the builders coming up with malls and multiplexes throughout the city. Big-time industrialists like the Rahejas, the Ambanis, the Goenkas and the Biyanis are all expanding retail businesses at the expanse of small traders. In Delhi alone, the small traders running 400,000 shops give employments to 50 lakh people. But then who cares, the fancy airconditioned malls with global brands would come up in the city creating a further wedge between the ordinary citizens and the upwardly mobile few employed in select sectors like IT and BPOs.
Those left unemployed would take to crime; some of them would commit suicides while others would be chased by foreign banks for their failure to pay EMIs.
Delhi would emerge as a modern city, maybe by Commonwealth Games in 2010. It would be the city of the rich and powerful. What would happen to the rest of people. Nobody knows!