New Delhi: Noida is Emergency's Child, if one may call it that. Yamuna or Jamuna ji's languid flow skirts Delhi before it re-enters Haryana and ends at the Okhla Bird sanctuary. On the east end of the Okhla Barrage, in April 1976, the then Uttar Pradesh chief minister Narayan Dutt Tiwari laid the foundation of New Okhla Industrial Development Area. Thus the acronym Noida.
One can safely assume from its very baptism that Noida was meant to be developed as an industrial area. Tiwari, apart from other things, once carried Sanjay Gandhi’s sandals. Those were the heady days of Emergency. Sanjay Gandhi wanted to shift from Nehruvian Socialism. Maruti would come later, but the signs were clear. So Noida was meant to be the satellite industrial town near the national capital.
How and when Noida metamorphosed into a residential township is not clearly registered in the annals of its short history. Maybe because it was a process over the last four decades as migrants continuously poured into Delhi to breach the natural frontiers etched by Yamuna in the east. A Jamuna-paar house once was considered infra-dig.
Humans, like water, have a remarkable ability to adjust and adapt to the pit-bottom. So Noida soon became Nevada— a Las Vegas straddling the mountainous west in the United States. ‘Nevada-Nevada-Nevada’ the raucous helpers of killer Blue-line buses in Delhi would shout while soliciting customers at Connaught Circus in Delhi.
And people thronged to Noida. In droves. They travelled every day in and out of the town to work— packed in rancid DTC buses like sardines— and later in the Metro. Chandni Chowk traders moved from congested lanes of Old Delhi to spacious new condos in Noida, and long commute became a daily habit.
Around housing societies with five-star amenities, developed shanty towns and slums— a subsidiary economy on the margins. Sahib wanted a driver. Memsahib wanted a domestic help. Interestingly, in all these years, as Noida transformed from an industrial to a predominantly residential township, for its civic needs it continues to be administered by a developing authority. Noida has no municipality, no civic body which is accountable to the people.
It is like the Delhi Development Authority(DDA) doubling up as Municipal Corporation of Delhi(MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council(NDMC). So why is Noida an exception?
A senior bureaucrat currently posted in the city sees a babu-neta nexus in the genesis of the malediction. In late eighties, two CMs — Vir Bahadur Singh and ND Tiwari — lost their jobs just after visiting Noida. “Noida was a cash rich cow and bureaucrats wanted to keep netas away from it. That’s how the myth around Noida jinx was born and took route,” he says.
Even if the ‘jinx’ kept politicians away from the town, it did not stop them from exploiting its burgeoning economy. In the past, ruling dispensations and dynasties have deputed family loyalists and reliable aides to handle Noida and manage the cash flow that it generates.
Even if the chief ministers did not visit the ‘jinxed’ city for the fear of electoral defeat, hand-picked babus were posted here to do the needful.
I am very happy. Due to his dress, few people find it fashionable to believe that CM Yogi Adityanath is not 'modern enough' but it is Yogi Adityanath Ji who has done what CMs of UP never did- he came to Noida. Faith is important but blind faith is not desirable: PM Modi pic.twitter.com/glLxFbixpa— ANI (@ANI) December 25, 2017
When I became CM, ppl told me of a few places where no CMs went because they were inauspicious. I was clear I would go to all those places in my first year itself. There were superstitions associated w/Noida & in his own style,Yogi Adityanath Ji rose above them & came to Noida-PM pic.twitter.com/4agNoWadHz— ANI (@ANI) December 25, 2017
Ironically, in all these years it has taken a politician in saffron robes to defy the curse of Noida in his first year in office. And Yogi Adityanath has, to the discomfiture of Babu-Neta nexus, promised to return and keep a close watch on the developments here.