Once a textile manufacturing hub, Mumbai is widely recognised as the business capital of India. The largest city in South Asia, Mumbai metropolitan region (MMR) is comparable in size (4,355km2) to the metro regions of Los Angeles and Shanghai, and has an urban population of 18.1 million. This figure is projected to rise to over 25 million by 2025, placing Mumbai as the future 2nd largest urban region globally behind only Tokyo.
Mumbai is in prime position to emerge as India’s bona fide world-class city this century, despite lingering dystopian associations with overcrowding and poverty. Mumbai’s authorities aim to put the city on the same footing as Shanghai and Hong Kong by combining job-fuelled growth with a comfortable quality of life and preservation of its distinctive attributes. National and state authorities have facilitated Mumbai’s transition towards a service-based economy and a global financial centre. Access to a huge and growing hinterland, coupled with institutionalised democracy and the rule of law, gives Mumbai a firm platform for success. The recently announced city modernisation plan and significant investment in upgrading the city’s airport, developing a multi-modal transport system and developing a Mumbai Metro are further projects which will further secure Mumbai’s presence in the consciousness of international firms and knowledge workers.
Mumbai still faces many complex challenges if it is to become more than a national centre of commerce. Key among these are a serious ‘governance deficit’ and highly fragmented planning agendas, combined with the fact that Mumbai contributes significantly to state revenues but receives little state-funded capital expenditure in return. Further streamlining regulatory systems are required to improve the ease of business, while the city is yet to generate truly wide-scale interest from talented, highly mobile workforces. To ensure Mumbai’s citizens benefit from its development, concerns of a rapidly growing population, environmental deterioration and high levels of insecure housing must also be addressed.
Image: flickr: Jayesh Bheda