How can anything compete with millennium-old architectural wonders? Aurangabad is known the world over for the Ajanta and Ellora caves, a tomb built by the Mughal ruler Aurangzeb in memory of a lost love, and a towering temple dedicated to the “lord of compassion” referenced in the Shiva Purana.
In this city steeped in history, modernity and its allies have to fight tooth, nail and extravagant gestures to be taken seriously. Therefore, in 2010, businessmen and professionals placed an order for 150 Mercedes-Benz on a single day and then for 101 BMWs on another day. That changed the prevailing perception of the City of Gates as a dusty neighbour of the power trio of Mumbai-Pune-Nashik. It showed Aurangabad to be the City of Wealth, with its many big auto, consumer durable and engineering companies.
Ten years on, Aurangabad is in the headlines once more, but not with the same triumphant spirit. Micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are seeing divided fortunes. One half that is dependent on Videocon for its business is shutting down or waiting anxiously for its dues to be settled, and the other half that supplies to Bajaj Auto is thriving.
What went wrong
A livid security guard at the Videocon factory rushes towards us when he spots us with a camera. “Koi photo nahin yahan pe,” he says wagging his finger. Two others are more polite and request us to go away. This is in Chittegaon, about 17 kilometres from Aurangabad. The massive factory has six gates and there are no more than a handful of people going in and out. The usual humdrum one would associate with an industrial area is conspicuously absent and one employee tells us production has come to a standstill. “Almost zero activity hai, sir,” he says.
More than a hundred yellow-and-black buses in the compound once ferried Videocon’s workforce to and fro from the factory. It was here that washing machines, refrigerators and television sets were