Google Earth is a great tool to analyze cities, particularly the rapidly changing peri-urban spaces. Consider the following images: they are divided not only by the Old Delhi-Gurgaon Highway, but by much more.
The area in question
1. East of the Highway
In case it’s hard to make out (clickable), these are farmhouses of the NCR elite with plush lawns, trees, and swimming pools. Baba Ramdev needs to realize that in addition to Swiss banks, tons of black money is also anchored in and around our cities. Maybe he should lead a land invasion movement instead of campaigning for the abolishment of the 1000 Rupee note.
2. West of the Highway
On the other side of the highway are these container-like blocks, each housing about 400 (almost entirely male) migrant workers, who walk to the factories in the industrial estates of neighbouring Gurgaon each morning. According to this wonderful report aired on NDTV, a room costs Rs. 1200 a month, and is shared by three workers. The compounds have been built on land belonging to the village of Kapashera by the villagers, who’ve transformed themselves into slumlords, making use of the changing economic geography. Some landlords also operate kirana stores, and their tenants must purchase groceries from them alone or face the risk of removal.
This is peri-urban Delhi. It would be incorrect to consider these spaces as transitory, that will in due course give way to the properly urban. They are instead a typology of their own, a mix of formal/informal, residences/industries, opulence/penury, hope/despair.