This paper examines the development of secured residential enclaves in India, especially in Delhi. It expounds the conditions of their emergence and success: although gated communities are a market driven development boosted by economic liberalisation reforms, they are also embedded in indigenous traditions of residential segregation and enclosure as well as colonial practices. The Non-Resident Indians (NRI) have further played a significant role in the production of these new residential spaces. Significant appeal factors are explored: desire for security, retreat from failing government and the polluted city, search for exclusivity, elitism and social homogeneity. Tapping into the Indian diaspora market and the middle-class’ aspirations for social status, promoters have projected their residential enclaves as a way of “global living” in a healthy environment, reserved to a privileged cosmopolitan elite. Yet, gated communities in Delhi are not a mere exogenous Western production; rather, they are spaces in-between the global and the local. The findings are based on direct field observations in Delhi and a review of advertisements by real estate developers in various media. The analysis pursues an Indo-Chinese comparative perspective with reference to the research of Marie Sander (this issue) on gated communities in Shanghai.
- Secured residential enclaves in Indian metros are not a mere exogenous western production.
- They are a market driven development boosted by economic liberalisation reforms.
- They are embedded in indigenous traditions of residential segregation and enclosure as well as colonial practices.
- Non-Resident Indians have played a significant role in the production of gated communities.
- Appeal factors are good investment, desire for security and elitism, retreat from failing government and polluted city.