My idea of a good life is to live in a place where the environment brings people together in ways that enhance their enjoyment of the facilities that are available.
I am fortunate to live in a colony that perfectly fits in to this idea of mine. When we moved in here seventeen years ago, many people did not know about the colony and auto rickshaws would ask for double the fare as it would be difficult for them to get fares back to the city. There was only one paved road and the others were on the Municipal Corporation’s drawing board. While there were some people already living in the colony, we were also welcomed as pioneers.
Most people had come to settle down in Pune either after retirement, or due to transfers to it for employment in the growing industrial sector. For many people, selling off their small flats in Mumbai, then known as Bombay, and shifting to Pune made sense. Larger flats were available at much lower prices and the left over cash made a nice cushion for the retirement nest egg. Our colony too started off mostly with this kind of residents.
Today, the colony has become what people call “up-market”. There is a multiplex, a few big name retailers, a shopping mall, some famous franchises like the McDonald, KFC, etc, besides others like, Roebock, Nike etc. Prices have shot up and the nice old gentle pace has been replaced with high speed traffic zooming around. Many software companies have set up shop here and the floating population with its attendant problems too has begun to trouble us old timers.
In this scenario, the colony’s joggers’ park a beautiful place, is a magnet in the mornings and evenings for people who wish to walk, jog or just sit around, and offers a recreational area for children too. Some very interesting things happen in this joggers park and I shall be writing on and off about those events.
My friend from Tirupur shared a problem that he faces in the new factory that he has put up at Coimbatore. He is unable to get employable workers! He personally went to some villages around Coimbatore to recruit some apprentices but was unable to. He was amazed at the response from women of these villages who were willing to come to learn and work in his plant if some kind of hostel accommodation was provided but the men were simply not interested. The reason? The various schemes given out by the government for the unemployed gave them sufficient funds to enjoy themselves without working.
Normally, I would have written off such comments as prejudice from armchair pundits. This friend however is not prone to exaggeration nor is he capable of untruth. He sincerely wished to create wealth and provide employment to people from the underprivileged background but this is what he found.
He further went on to say, that his is not an isolated instance, and other small and medium scale entrepreneurs too were faced with this problem. Both at Coimbatore and Tirupur therefore, increasingly, women from Kerala and men from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, are being encouraged to come to work. I have first hand knowledge of the imported labour from Bihar and UP in the North Western states of India as well as in Gujarat and Maharashtra and its political dimensions.
Is this now Nature’s way of unifying India? Consider the additional fact of Haryana and Rajasthani men not finding brides locally due to female infanticide etc, going to Kerala, Orissa etc to bring back brides, this certainly seems to be so!
The minus side to this development however is the fact that the women involved in all this simply slog, and the men folk of their families enjoy themselves at their expense. About that development, more in a future blog.
I had given a brief note about Tirupur in my post yesterday and rather mysteriously advised that I shall continue on the subject of “Aspirations”. So, here I go.
My guests are son, daughter-in-law and grandson of a very dear friend of mine from Tirupur. My friend is a second-generation entrepreneur but has concentrated on being an agent for various manufacturers and a merchant rather than go into manufacturing. His father before him too was similarly a merchant.
My friend, let us call him SG, had a lot of hopes of his only son, my guest, let us call him SM, will join him in the business after his college education. SM did try that for a while but found that working for his father was too restraining and so went off on his own into business. He is a serial entrepreneur, and was one before that term became popular. He had a series of fiascos and finally came out a winner and has been with two businesses, which are successful since the last five years.
He, his wife and two sons however find that Tirupur is not exactly the kind of place that they would like to live. They have set up another home at Coimbatore, which is only fifty kilo meters away and is the largest city in that area.
Just about every family from Tirupur is going through this problem of the younger generation not prepared to live and work in Tirupur. They want to migrate to bigger cities and even abroad. Given the background that every singly business house in Tirupur is family owned and managed, there is a kind of crisis building up with younger generations not willing to stay there.
So, from agriculture to industry/commerce and to emigration, aspirations have made Tirupur an enigma! When I probe the causes for this phenomenon, I find that information regarding the life styles of people in cities, gleaned from the ubiquitous TV is responsible for this desire to get away from the stifling family, cast and social restraints that the rather orthodox community of Tirupur insists on.
So, a kind of revolution of sorts is taking place and quite how the next twenty or so years will be handled by this buoyant town is to be seen.