Language First: The Unsafe Safety Signs Of Gurgaon


Gurgaon has, for the longest time, been seen as the city of the future. The glitz and glam of the MNC’s, the 24/7 schedule of the BPO’s and the low average age of new employees makes for changing dynamics and growth, not just  infrastructural, but also societal. Influx of manpower from around the country has seen the place take on a diversified hue, while at the same time looking for its own signature colours amidst the life of the many people who make the city breathe, twinkle and live.

Amidst the bustle of progress and development, the city plays catch up with the needs of the many. A growing population, sprouting of residential areas, new construction projects for office spaces and even more residential areas. With each new development, there comes a host of related issues which need ever more innovative answers to keep the wheels spinning in the millennium city.


A drive down any major road in the area can attest to this. Despite what many pessimists have to say, the development of this city has been impressive. The rapid metro corridor, with signs apologising for inconvenience today for a better tomorrow is just one way the administration tries to keep the local population happy. But is the local population even included in this ride of development?

Every major construction project tries to showcase workplace safety, with the biggest example being the Rapid Metro construction down the Golf Course road stretch. At each construction site, one can see signs and boards extolling the virtue of being safe at a hazardous work place like a construction site; with just one small problem. They are all in English.

This is the state of affair for each and every sign or poster or any other related board or hoarding. Be it for rules for traffic, diversion routes or important safety guidelines; most, if not all are found to be in English. Labour forces which comprises of mostly illiterate migrant workers who, in many cases, make their children work due to lack of funds for a proper schooling. Extolling the virtues of wearing a hardhat to an illiterate labourer is wonderful, only if it was done in a language which the labourer had any chance of knowing.

Have we gotten so wrapped up in the name of development that we forgot what language people talk or communicate in? Or is this an attempt to comply and impress those elite few who might force the same mega projects into changes which would involve spending money?


From the everyday movement of pedestrians across the 8 lane unofficial expressway to basic traffic movement, mandated to be controlled with the help of signages for the public see the chaos of every morning. Being a taxi hub, thanks to the innumerable BPO’s and nightlife options, we expect the schooling impaired driver from rural Madhya Pradesh to follow the rules of the glitzy affair of Gurgaon. We change the name of the city, bringing on the added expense to make the new name visible across the media, but have to yet take on the responsibility of having basic, lifesaving rules accessible to the public.

Vehicles in the wrong lane, fruit markets set up at the edges of major roads, unofficial auto stands at the corner of turnings, all these are just some issues the average traveller in Gurgaon faces. The people have taken to changing their car requirements rather than hoping the road quality will be changed. Families take up massive SUVs in the hope of better navigating the scars of development than approach the authorities. Yet clap, for the progress of Gurgaon.

Ranveer Raj Bhatnagar

Image Sources:

The Viewspaper