As you drive along, you’ll notice a large “DLF”stamped on most of the high-rise buildings. More than any other person, it is Kushal Pal Singh, chairman and chief executive of DLF – India’s largest commercial real-estate developer – who is behind the city’s building boom.
“When the idea first took hold of me that a world-class city could be built on the vast tracts of desolate land at the foot of the Aravallis in Haryana, nobody took me seriously. Reactions ranged from open ridicule to concern for my sanity,”wrote Singh in his autobiography, Whatever the Odds: The Incredible Story Behind DLF. Yet today, the company owns nearly 3,000 acres of this industrial region.
While car manufacturer Maruti Udyog (now Maruti Suzuki) was the first company to lay its foundations here when it opened in 1982, it was DLF’s acquisition of land at the end of the 20th century that gave investors confidence in the area’s potential.
The roots of Singh’s vision can be traced back to a chance meeting in 1980 with the then soon-to-be prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi. Bumping into each other in an isolated part of Haryana, Gandhi heard Singh explain his vision for Gurgaon. In his book, Singh recalled:“He became interested and pressed me on the issue. ‘What is holding it up and why don’t you do it?’This one incident was to transform Gurgaon from a rural wilderness into an international city.”