Chaos

Manesar and the anatomy of a slowdown

A decade-long auto boom put the town and nearby villages on the global map. Now a slowdown is choking them.

You should have led with the king of spades and not saved it for later,” Nanku tells Chauhan. “Have you forgotten how to play?”

Chauhan smiles sheepishly while shuffling the cards, a half-lit bidi perched between his lips.

Chauhan deals. Nanku falls short again. He is livid. Only one man, Sawant Singh, who’s in the lead, seems to be enjoying this banter.

It’s past noon in Aliyar, a village near Maruti Suzuki India’s manufacturing plant in Manesar, and men are concentrating hard on the game at hand. They’re playing Call Bridge, a four-player card game popular in these parts.

Behind the men lies the village market. Fresh produce is stacked alongside the limp and rotting stock from before. There are no buyers. Vendors take turns to play cards.

“There is no work. Thousands of our customers have been fired from jobs. What are we supposed to do?” asks Nanku.

Villagers are still in shock. They don’t know what triggered such massive layoffs at companies. Or when the migrant workers will return, if at all they do.

It’s like a game of Call Bridge—the industry and the government have made calls and fallen short.

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