The rise of non-agricultural growth has meant that people are slowly moving away from farming at Hinjewadi
Sunil Bhore’s blue two-storey house lies 16 km from Pune at Hinjewadi, in stark contrast with the MNC buildings that line the main road. For a decade now, the town has become synonymous with the IT park, later named Rajiv Gandhi Infotech Park. However, Sunil says he can only dream of ever working in the IT giants housed in the Park.
“We grew up in a village. For me, it is still one, but perhaps with better facilities. The IT park jobs are not for people like us,” he states. Till now, only two people from the erstwhile village, now a census town, work as IT professionals, and are an inspiration for the local school kids, Mr. Bhore says. Hinjewadi (population 11,459) is characteristic of census towns across the country, whose residents do not always identify with the rapid growth around them.
Sunil runs a transport company that supplies cars and SUVs to the companies in the IT Park. While some people in Hinjewadi have found employment that has links with the IT park, it is still difficult, he says, because contracts are given to “outsiders”.
“You will not believe it looking at the glass buildings, but employment among the youth is a big issue here,” he states.
“Housekeeping service,” his friend Hanumant Hulawade announces. “We had never heard of the term before. But now I run a housekeeping service company. I thought I would be a farmer like my father,” Mr. Hulawade says.
The rise of non-agricultural growth has meant that people are slowly moving away from farming. “Every family still has land, but farming is decreasing. People are happy selling their land or building apartments and renting them to the IT wallahs,” 45-year-old housewife and farmer Sangeeta Sakhre says.
Real estate has shot up in the last few years. Integrated townships are being launched, promising the IT crowd “silence and peace near your workplace.”
Tucked into tiny lanes between Phases 1 and 2 of the Hinjewadi IT park, lies the Gram Panchayat. It was closed on the day this correspondent visited the town. The Sarpanch, Sagar Sakhre, was busy campaigning for Supriya Sule, the Congress-NCP alliance’s candidate from Pune’s Baramati constituency.
Ms. Sule is the sitting MP, and is likely to be re-elected from the NCP bastion, but people in the town are dissatisfied. “We lead a good life, not because of the politicians, but because we have worked hard,” Sham Jambhulkar, a hotel owner said. The only government school in Hinjewadi is up to Class VIII, and there are no colleges in the town. “There is no government hospital. So if the poor of Hinjewadi fall sick, we have to run to Pimpri—10 kilometres away,” Ganesh Kolte said.
Residents haven’t forgotten that Ms. Sule visited the Hinjewadi IT Park to address the infrastructure woes in 2011. “We voted for her, but she didn’t do any work here,” Asha Gaikwad, a maid, said.
Conversation with the youth inevitably turns towards the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi. “He will control prices, and protect us from Pakistan,” Sahebrao Waghmore states. However, asked how a BJP government will affect the local issues of Hinjewadi, Sahebrao has no answer.