When president Jimmy Carter put this obscure farming village on the map in 1978 by giving his name to it, it was the quintessence of rural Indian life.
Called Daulatpur then and with only about half of its present population of 2,200 persons, the village in central Haryana State had a typically Indian communal well, a dusty square inhabited mostly by water buffaloes lazing in the warm sunshine and some modest mud-brick houses and was surrounded by fertile farmland on which the villagers sustained themselves by growing wheat, mustard and vegetable crops to sell in nearby Gurgaon.
Little had changed since Carter's mother, Lillian, worked there as a peace corps volunteer in the 1960s, or, for that matter, since centuries before.
Now, however, a metamorphosis has begun in Carterpuri, which is on the verge of being swallowed up by New Delhi's urban sprawl. A land-selling frenzy is beginning, villagers say, transforming simple farmers into instant millionaires, by Indian standards, and irrevocably changing the character of Carterpuri.
The Haryana development authority, according to village revenue officer Madan Lal Bhatwari, already has bought up more than 100 acres of farmland and has designated 100 more for development. Moreover, he said, 70 acres have been sold to private developers, leaving only about 300 acres unsold.
But, Bhatwari said, land-selling fever is running high among the villagers, and more farmers are expected to expected to sell out as housing in New Delhi -- a 20-minute drive away -- becomes more scarce.
Bhop Singh, the chief of the Carterpuri village council, said he sold all 20 acres of his farmland to the state government for a public housing project and instantly became a landless farmer. He also became instantly rich, receiving about $4,100 an acre for his premium land, which he said he would use to buy farmland elsewhere.
Singh said he was unhappy with the sale price, claiming that similar land close to the capital was selling to private developers for nearly twice as much. But he shrugged his shoulders and said, "If it's done in the name of development, it's all right." He added, "Any government that comes to power is going to take the land for development."
Bhatwari, when asked if the land sales were good for Carterpuri, gestured toward one of the small village's two banks and replied, "They have filled up the bank with money." Two years ago, he said, Carterpuri had no bank at all. Now, one of the branches has deposits of about $500,000, he said.
At the village school, headmaster Kanwar Bhatnagar unlocked a cupboard and carefully took out Carterpuri's two most prized possessions: an album of color photographs of the Jan. 3, 1978, visit by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter and an engraved wooden case containing a color transparency viewer and disc slides of scenes of American life, presented by Carter to the state's chief minister.
Although its agricultural character is on the verge of changing dramatically, Bhatnagar said, Carterpuri has benefited materially since adopting the U.S. president's name. It has a literacy rate of 62 percent, far above the nationwide rate of 38 percent; it has adequate water and electricity supply, and there are about four dozen television sets in the village, far more than the average for rural India.