Sunday, August 20, 2006

Is Mumbai past its peak?

Don't get me wrong, I love the city, I have lived most of my life here. But I can't help thinking that for Mumbai, the glory days are past it. There are a number of reasons for this and I will outline a few important ones:
  • Infrastructure: The first impression you get of the city is that it is overcrowded. There have been some positive steps taken lately with the Bandra-Worli sealink going strong and the Mumbai subway project underway. But considering the fact that Mumbai is filled to the brim, there is no great potential for growth. The only open spaces are far off from the city and hence weakly connected. Add to that the bloated property rates and this makes Mumbai unattractive for large corporations and multinationals to set their base at.
  • Technological growth: Technology is the new superpower. With technological advances just hitting the knee of an exponential growth trend, we are in for a technological revolution in the next few years. Unfortunately as mentioned above, due the infrastructure (or the lack of it) and less potential for growth, most of the technology companies (especially the multinationals) have kept away from Mumbai.
  • Weather patterns: Another reason is the unpredictable weather patterns that Mumbai has experienced lately and the inability of Mumbai's infrastructure to cope with it. This was seen during the heavy rains last year on July 26th and this year in early July. If the unpredictable rains are indeed due to global warming (hence human activities), we can only expect more in the years to come.
  • Political instability: The political scene hasn't been helpful at all with vote-bank politics ensuring that reforms occur only at a cosmetic level and before election times. Lack of political stability has lead to the ruling party systematically looting the treasury in the name of reforms. The bomb blasts and the looming presence of the underworld doesn't help either.
All these factors lead me to believe that the prime of Mumbai is past it. Unless some radical changes come about, twenty years down the line Mumbai will be just another Indian city sharing the spotlight with other cities like Bangalore , Hyderabad, Pune etc.

Every great city in the world experiences a peak after which it goes into a rut and then slowly fades into a has-been. Mumbai is at this peak, waiting slowly for the fall.

I sincerely hope I am wrong......


Sailesh Ganesh said...

All of these points except the one on weather can be attributed to negligence on the part of the authorities. I do not think any politician has the balls to devote most of the state's financial resources to the development of Mumbai. Chandrababu Naidu concentrated mostly on Hyderabad and he was voted out by the rural folk. So theres a precedent there that others will be apprehensive of. I think the only way Mumbai can move forward from now is to decouple it from Maharashtra, and give it a union territory status. Atleast then, more of the money earned via tax from Mumbai can be ploughed back into developing infrastructure of all sorts, all other things being equal.

Nikhil said...

Ha... Mumbai as a union territory. Don't think that is going to happen anytime in the near future.