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Blog // Travel
August 14, 2005

It’s More Than A Flood

Mumbai is still trying to deal with aftermath of the recent floods. The 37 inches of rain Mumbai received in 24 hours would trouble any city, but the International Herald Tribune is right that poor leadership and poor government have made this disaster worse than it might have been. Over the past two years I […]

Mumbai is still trying to deal with aftermath of the recent floods. The 37 inches of rain Mumbai received in 24 hours would trouble any city, but the International Herald Tribune is right that poor leadership and poor government have made this disaster worse than it might have been.

Over the past two years I have heard Mumbai called the Indian Shanghai, the New Hong Kong and even the New York of Asia. All these would be even funnier if they were not held to be truths by those who sprouted them. The sad reality is that Mumbai is a grimey city whose good qualities in finance and cinema are more than outweighed by extreme poverty, bad planning and poor infrastructure.

Put simply, Mumbai will never be a first world city, or even comparable to a city like Shanghai; never ever. This is not just a matter of money, which in itself is enough of an impediment because the investment levels are simply not there to match what is being acheived in Shanghai or was acheived in Singapore. Rather, it is a matter of political and civic will. There is not the desire amongst the wealthy to build the social contract and neither is there the will or accountability amongst the political elites. Enough profits can be made and tax revenues generated with things as they are that there is insufficient motivation to make the sacrifices required to build a truly world-class city. The practical consequence of that is, of course, that many will needlessly suffer and die everytime India’s cruel weather turns against the city.

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