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Cashing in on realty of divide

“Ahmedabad’s economic and physical development are among the most impressive in India,but its levels of communal violence and segregation are the most extreme,” writes US historian Howard Spodek

Written by Avinash Nair | Published: October 20, 2012 3:18 am

“Ahmedabad’s economic and physical development are among the most impressive in India,but its levels of communal violence and segregation are the most extreme,” writes US historian Howard Spodek in his latest book Ahmedabad: Shock city of Twentieth-Century India .

Organised for the first time,a property show which caters exclusively to the needs of Muslim home buyers of Ahmedabad is just an offshoot of this social “segregation”.

The show which began on Friday comes immediately after a similar event organised by a group of mostly Hindu builders under the Gujarat Institute of Housing and Estate Developers concluded.

“Last week,I was at the property show organised by GIHED. I could not find a suitable project. The needs of the Muslim home buyer are very different. We want to live near our relatives and friends,it makes us feel more secure,” says Mehboob Desai,a sales and marketing executive who was scouting for a two bed-room house at the property fair organised by Ummat,web-portal that exclusively networks various businesses of the Muslim community in the city.

The sense of insecurity has come from years of social divide,riots and also the fact that even if he or she wants,it is almost impossible for a Muslim to find a house to buy or rent in a “non-Muslim” neighbourhood.

It is not just about Hindus or Muslims,the segregation goes further deep. Even castes and sub-castes opt to live in ‘gated communities’. There are residential societies occupied exclusively by Patels,Bharwads,Jains,and even those belonging to the Swaminarayan sect. The same is the case with Muslims — there are areas exclusive to Dawoodi Bohras,Chippa Muslims,Mansuris,Sheikhs,Memons,Khojas and Pathans.

There have been no significant social or political effort to break the walls and integrate communities. The divide is a social reality that the Gujaratis have learnt to live with. The real estate industry is just cashing in on that.

Avinash is a special correspondent based in Ahmedabad

avinash.n@expressindia.com

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