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Srivastava’s point that Gurgaon as a brand had its own unique identity is echoed by MakeMyTrip’s boss Deep Kalra, who also flagged unnecessary cost as a negative: “This is not a good idea, since it will cause unnecessary confusion for all for years to come…It’s a total waste of government and corporate money, which I am sure will run into hundreds of crores over time. All documentation, signages on roads, metros, listings, websites etc will need to change. Gurgaon has been established as a hub for corporates, both international and Indian; makes little sense to try and change the name…” Adman, TV talking head and columnist Suhel Seth called the renaming an “epic mistake”. “There should be logic to this. Just to invoke Hinduism…they can’t change names like that,” he said. PepsiCo India CEO D Shivakumar was one of the dissenters, arguing the “government decision to rename” will not make any difference as the city will thrive thanks to its “ecosystem of companies and a large talent pool”.
“I do not think it makes any difference to business or industry,” RC Bhargava, chairman, Maruti Suzuki, said, arguing the renaming is irrelevant.
But a senior executive of a leading American MNC said Gurugram will have even less “meaning” for Western corporate heavyweights than Gurgaon. “Our HQ people found it hard to relate to Gurgaon…Gurugram will defeat them.”
Radhika Aggarwal, Chief Business Officer, Shopclues, said she found “no point in the name change” and that re- naming will “add confusion”.
Many senior corporate executives, for whom Gurgaon is a place of both work and residence, termed the renaming to Gurugram as “disastrous”. Their argument was that over the years Gurgaon had acquired a global and high-end cache despite being a “vernacular” name and that Gurugram will simply not have that brand sheen.
Rajiv Talwar, CEO of Gurgaon-headquartered DLF, the real estate firm deeply involved with Gurgaon’s urban transformation, agrees with the loss of brand value argument, but in a different way: “Brands are in-built in our mind….who calls Connaught Place (a Delhi shopping hub) Rajiv Chowk…Most people don’t call Bangalore Bengaluru…”
Talwar, however, reckons Gurugram’s many corporate and high-end residential complexes, places that gave Gurgaon its cache, will mitigate the impact of renaming.
Another major real estate firm, which did not want to be identified, said there will be “some explaining to do to foreign investors” about Gurugram but Gurgaon’s attractions may not dim.
Most real estate players said the sub-branding of luxury apartment of complexes – the Carltons, Okawoods, Labarnums etc – will keep the impact of Gurugram at the minimum. Globalisationfriendly branding for highpriced properties will operate in their own space, distinct from the messaging from Gurugram – that’s the argument and hope of big property developers.
(Reporting by Taslima Khan, Ratna Bhushan, Ravi Teja Sharma, Devina Sengupta, Anirban Chowdhury & Sharmistha Mukherjee)