Once considered to be one of the filthiest cities in India, not only is Surat today one of the cleanest cities in India, but also one of the fastest growing cities in India. Most surveys/polls in fact consider it to be one of the best cities in India to live in.
In 1994, when the city was hit by plague, just the mere mention of Surat was enough to scare people from visiting that place, the city saw an exodus of frightened inhabitants leaving the city in hordes, and there was hysterical media coverage all over the world.
Fast forward couple of decades and Surat has turned out to be not only is one of the cleanest cities in India, but also a place that would give most urban cities in India a run for the money, when it comes to infrastructure and development.
Just take a drive from Mumbai to Surat, and you’ll be impressed with the quality of the roads. The four and a half hour drive (around 320 kms) is smooth and once you enter Surat, you’re going to rub your eyes in disbelief looking at the development, especially if you’ve not been to Surat for a long time.
Strong Entrepreneurial Spirit & Culture
Even the world acknowledges the diamond city’s rapid growth & transformation. A recent survey conducted by ‘The City Mayors Foundation’, an international think tank on urban affairs, had ranked Surat as the fourth fastest developing city in the world (not India).
Diamond, textile, embroidery are some of the industries attracting big investments and in turn helping development of the city. With virtually no Law and order problem, the city offers improved quality of living.
So what is it about Surat that works in its favour?
Top businessmen believe that the absence of a political environment has helped the economic growth and development of surat the most.
Here, people are business oriented (they have inherited this culture of trade) and hard working; its very common to hear stories of how people came to this city in just one pair of clothes and have went on to build businesses worth hundreds & thousands of crores of rupees.
The older generation have the experience and the contacts, and with their children getting educated in foreign universities and having knowledge of cutting edge technologies, family businesses are poised for bigger growths.
That’s also the reason why compared to other cities, its the non-conventional business sectors like like diamonds, embroidery (art silk and zari) that have contributed to the growth of the city.
Strong local governance (and state governance) coupled with the right infrastructure, has resulted in almost zero unemployment, despite heavy migration and population growth in last couple of decades.
You can expect the people hear to be practical. They’re punctual, especially when it comes to business meetings (so don’t keep them waiting for meetings). At the same time they also love to enjoy the good things and also love some spare time to socialize & gossip (especially in the afternoons), but then most of them can afford to do so as most of them are the bosses themselves.
Great Opportunity for Entertainment Industry
Being one of the fastest growing cities, and home to a thriving business community, Surat is also a market that people associated with the entertainment industry are waiting to tap into.
Catalogues, ad films & corporate films, high-end weddings are some of the segments that offer good opportunities. There’s good demand for celebrities as well, to endorse new projects.
There are many who are already working to get a pie of the lucrative wedding business. From event managers, set designers, fashion photographers, to caterers, all are visiting Surat to meet potential clients.
Great Infrastructure & Cleanliness
The Surat Municipal Corporation (SMC) today has one of the best water-treatment plants and one of the best solid waste-disposal systems in the country.
If you live in one of the metros of India, you’ll surely be left spellbound seeing the city’s wide roads & flyovers, the way buildings have comes up (with lots of open spaces & wide interior roads) several gardens, cleanliness, and more.
Do you know that shop keepers, street vendors and restaurant owners fear the SMC sanitation workers more than the policeman in Surat? The SMC’s sanitation workers are really strict when it comes to cleanliness. If there’s filth around a paan shop, the owner will be slapped a big fine and in worst case even asked to close shop. If you’re caught throwing a cigarette, be prepared to cough up a fine.
SMC also has a hugely effective road-cleaning project, where SMC workers, armed with brooms, water and scrubbers clean up all the major roads every night.
Well, I guess that’s what is the need of the hour in every city in India.
Besides, the numerous new roads and flyovers ensure motorists have a smooth ride, and one rarely finds traffic snarls (so common in other parts of India). Of the several state-of-the-art infrastructure facilities in Surat, you’ll find several swimming pools of global standard.
Booming Businesses Set to Grow Further
Surat has a huge diamond polishing business (almost half of the world’s diamond-polishing industry is based here) and is also known as India’s diamond capital. It will even grow bigger as the diamond bourse in BKC Mumbai is planning to shift to Surat.
The growth in the diamond, textile and other businesses, along with the focus on infrastructure, has sent the land prices soaring, and real estate is not really cheap here. Although it seems as if most of the real estate owners are inverstors & NRI’s as most of the buildings seem to be vacant.
But its definitely great to see attractively designed cluster of buildings with wide roads, footpaths & gardens.
One of the Best Cities in India
Whenever a study gets as to which are the best cities in India to live in, based on several parameters like “mobility, water supply network, cleanliness, public amenities, pollution control, greenery, safety, and easy processes of getting work done at the corporation”, Surat’s name definitely comes up at the top in the list.
Probably the only thing that surat needs is a good airport! The current airport has limited capacity and doesn’t have night landing or morning take-off facilities.I’m sure the authorities have that in mind.
The SMC’s Rs 150 crore Tapti riverfront project is to develop the banks of the Tapti on the lines of “London-on-Thames”. So in the coming years, you can expect to see walkways, gardens, roads and small commercial hubs on the banks of the river.
Historically, although surat was already a big city when the Britishers were here, its growth was stopped by the rise of Mumbai (Bombay then) but that happened only for a short period. After all, business acumen is built into a Surti’s (native of Surat) genetic code and today Surat is home to several booming businesses.
It’s also a city of diversity, people seem to be more tolerant (historically peaceful), its easy to find non-vegetarian meals considering that majority are vegetarians (they also seen to love food as there are several eating outlets/joints), and its a place where people basically want to focus on enjoying the good things of life.
The only reason why a lot of people have not made the move to Surat yet is because its still a place where you need to be a part of a business. You won’t find good white collar job opportunities here yet and the services industry is not big, compared to other big cities in India.
However, Surat is definitely an interesting city and if you’re from any other big city in India, you definitely would wish that your city offered some of the amenities /facilities that this city offers to its people.
For someone, who’s lived in the metro cities like Mumbai, Surat comes like a breath of fresh air. I hope other cities in India take a cue from Surat and implement some of their practices (especially the cleanliness part and the construction-to-open-space ratio).
However, one thing is for sure! Surat’s transformation into a top-class city is because of the perceptible change of Surtis towards cleanliness; for them cleanliness now is a strict habit and not just awareness.