Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Liberated Mumbai

Ever since the creation of Maharashtra State in 1960, there has been a lot of argument and heartburn over the status of Mumbai city. The chief minister of the recently defunct Bombay state, Morarji Desai, wanted Mumbai (then Bombay) to be part of the state of Gujarat, on account of the large Gujarati-speaking population there. Over the years, several residents of Mumbai have argued for the creation of a separate State/Union Territory of Mumbai. Maharashtrians, however react angrily to what they see as an attempt to dismember their state. Creating a separate political entity because of a change in the demographics due to immigration by outsiders is never a terribly popular idea.

After the recent floods in Mumbai, the idea of Mumbai as a separate political unit has gained currency. The failure of the state administration to properly deal with the flooding is perceived as Maharshtra failing its capital city. There is a sense that Maharashtra is looting Mumbai, that the current political situation benefits only Maharashtra to the detriment of Mumbai. Just separate Mumbai from Maharashtra, some Mumbaikars say, and all our problems will be solved. Gaurav Sabnis writes about such demands:
One such "cause" that is supported fashionably is the matter of making Mumbai a union territory. Instinctively it seems great, doesn't it? Here is Mumbai, contributing a chunk of the country's taxes. And yet it is let down by these politicians who come from Latur, Nagar, Konkan, Baramati. Yes, instinctively we feel that making Bombay a UT or even a separate state will solve most of its problems because then the leaders of Bombay will be answerable to Bombayites.
However, is their criticism of Maharashtrians mooching of Mumbai justified? Is the rest of Maharashtra making merry at Mumbai's expense. Gaurav writes:
Even today, Mumbai's infrastructure is far better than Pune or Nagpur. Mumbai has over 60 fly-overs, two wide arterial roads, an efficient bus transport service and a creaking-but-functional suburban rail system. Pune and Nagpur combined have barely half a dozen flyovers. They have no public transport to speak of, and the roads, at least in Pune, are no great shakes. The roads in Nagpur are superb, thanks to an efficient commissioner in their Civic Corporation, and not because of mooching off Mumbai.
That is, of course not to speak of the power situation. Mumbai enjoyed, in the peak of summer, an uninterrupted 24-hour electricity supply, invariably genrated in Maharashtra. The rest of Maharashtra had to deal with daily power cuts of five hours in the city, and an unbelievable nine hours in the countryside. This sorry situation almost caused riots in the summer months in many areas of Maharshtra who felt like they had got a raw deal. For Mumbaikars to now claim that they are being looted by Maharashtra seems like incredible hubris to those Maharshtrians who sat out the better part of the summer in darkness.

There is another aspect to this issue. Many Maharashtrians (and not just right wing nutjobs like this guy) feel that their state is being taken over by non-Maharashtrian immigrants. This feeling is prevelant even in predominantly Marathi-speaking cities like Pune and Kolhapur. In light of this, support to the idea of a separate Mumbai will be political suicide for any Maharashtrian politician. Not only that, but the idea is likely to cause a lot of bad feeling, and even violence.

So, what then is the solution? Shekhar Gupta, in an article supporting a separate Mumbai, mentions a possible solution:
Free the city from the clutches of the state’s politicians, make it autonomous, give it a mayor with the powers of a Giuliani or Bloomberg.
I don't know about the rest of India, but in Maharshtra, mayors, and indeed entire city corporations are toothless tigers. Mayors are elected every year in a city council with a life of five years. Furthermore, a policy of reserving the mayoralty for certain community in certain years means that the only person who can be mayor for more than a year at a time is a woman from the scheduled castes. This causes a power vacuum at the top of the municipal corporation that is filled by the Municipal Commissioner, who is an appointed bureaucrat. This means that, in effect, the people of a city have no power to choose their leader. The administrators of our largest cities are chosen, incredibly, by the seniority system of the IAS!

So here, then, is my solution. Give Mumbai, and indeed all large cities, powerful Municipal Corporations that actually have the power to run their cities, without running to the state government for help or permission to do the smallest things. And give the Municipal Corporation a strong, directly elected mayor who is actually answerable to the people, like any decent American or European city. I realise, of course, that this is not the panacea to all of Mumbai's (and other cities') problems. It is, however, a start, and will end the unaccountability that characterises our current model of civic administration. It will also answer most of the grievances of the proponents of a separate Mumbai, without antagonising its oponents. And best of all, this is a solution that can be applied to all cities. Don't just liberate Mumbai, liberate all our cities!

Posted in Politics and Economics.


Blogger skeptic optimist said...

Assuming they really make Mumbai Autonomous, they will have to make it a state and not UT because the huge population there demands a separate state comprising of Mumbai, greater Mumbai, Thane, Kalyan-Dombivli , NaviMumbai, JNPT, Turbhe - Uran, Bhiwandi - Ulhasnagar, etc.
Again it will become a state like NCR (Delhi) and the Vilasraos will be replaced by Sheila Dixits and who knows how what else may happen.

And please dont tell me Pune will be made capital coz that will lead to a new exodus of UP - Biharis here... Like Mumbai, then we will become minorities and will have to sing Jai Ganesha Deva instead of Sukha Karta Dukha Harta......

8:46 AM  
Blogger dhairyshil said...

I read what various readers have to say but i want to tell how maharashtra has been formed after independence, nowadays western maharashtra and gujarat are combined. Mr. Ambedkar and others leaders of maharashtra have proved that how marathi speaking region is neglected while spending money because all the businesses are controlled by gujarati and parsi people. Then started Samyukt Maharashtra movement demanding separate state for marathi speaking people covering Mumbai, western maharashtra, part of Hyderabad and central provinces, nowadays vidarbha region. Gujarati people claimed that they are majority. Initially they are asking for Mumbai to be part of Gujarat but as it is proved that Marathi people constitute of 42% of total population, they demanded a bilingual state of Bombay. This has forced people of Samyukt Maharashtra movement to intensify the operations. During this movement, Moraraji Desai ordered shooting in which 105 people have been killed.
Some of the points that supported that Mumbai be made separate state:
1. Mumbai is never a part of maratha empire.
By this way, if you consider till the independence, Baroda is part of maratha empire. Hence why not it be included in maharashtra.
2. Maharashtra is from Daman to Nowadays Karwar in Karnataka. Why Mumbai is made separate state then.
3. Mumbai is a Port: Switzerland uses france port hence cant claim that port as their territory. People of Maharashtra could have denied the port access.
4. People from Gujarat, they are generally businessman and the are migrated from Gujarat to Mumbai because of transfer of East India company from surat to Mumbai. They are favored by English people hence they are so rich. Marathi people keep fighting till end of maratha empire with English people and till independence. They are like british people to people of maharashtra by then, the rulers.
5. All resources such as water, electricity is produced in the hinterland.
Our PM Nehru already has problems with communist and linguist states as they are placing themselves in various states therefore they have to address these problems at that time only because this can result in breakup of India union that is envisioned. Because the root cause of collapses of empires in the world are cultural differences. Hence they formed Maharashtra with Mumbai as its state capital.

3:36 PM  
Blogger dhairyshil said...

As far as Other points raised by people like gaurav.
If we separate Mumbai lot of problems faced by mumbaikars will be solved. But I think problems will get worsened as power will come in the hands of most corrupt people. Initially they might be illiterate but success of cooperative movement has added feather in their cap.people should know Vilasrao deshmukh and R R patil are most visionary people and not like mulayam singh yadav and Lalu Yadav. Otherwise till now it could have turned into another bihar or UP.

People of Mumbai mostly north Indians say maharashtra is enjoying on the money of Mumbai. As Mumbai contributes about 40% of income tax, 30% of corporation tax and 22% of excise duty. It is almost 80000 cr and in return maharashtra gets a meager 5000cr from centre. Then Where does this money go. The obvious answer is into black holes of UP(18%) and Bihar(12%) i.e. about 30000. On the other side, Mumbai contributes about 50% sales tax to maharashtra that means around 12000 cr. That easily gets spend on Mumbai. By the way you, you should know ranking of cities in India according to economical importance. Mumbai comes at first place then Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad and then pune and at tenth place it is Nagpur.

As shekhar said, free the Indian cities from state’s clutches. Idea seems good but it is not non hindi speaking states. And this can’t be implemented in hindi speaking belt because there are no cities to be freed.

Sriniwas said pune will be made capital of maharashtra then I will be the first to ask, shift it to other city may be satara as suggested by someone. I think sriniwas fear may be true, UP and Bihar population is about 25cr, no jobs where to go, chalo maharashtra now it’s a turn of Pune, cultural capital of maharashtra. They think if they destroy our culture,it will be easy. Then turn of nagpur, nashik and so on. Still then there will be large population in UP and Bihar. Why don’t they go to Karnataka, Tamilnadu, Andhra and kerala. In this states they are not allowed to come inside.

They have blamed politicians of maharashtra for the flood. But I think its nature’s fury and manmade disaster. I am not backing politicians from maharashtra but blame is shared by leaders of UP, bihar, rajastan and Madhya Pradesh. The complete failure of the govt in these states to provide jobs in the state itself. The leaders of states should be shamed of themselves.
I think these solutions can’t be worked out by separation. As any partition in the world is dreadful. People should make way to find solutions with politicians and politicians of maharashtra know that they have to change with time.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

there are two kinds of title to property.... Monetary title and Natural Title.... Mumbai as such is an integral part of Konkan and Konkan as such is an integral part of Maharashtra and Maharashtra as such belongs to Marathi people just like Bihar belongs to Biharis and Gujrat belongs to Gujratis... Even CHAOS has its own rules... and pl do not bring CHAOS to maharashtra...

11:35 AM  
Blogger A said...


this statement

"then we will become minorities and will have to sing Jai Ganesha Deva instead of Sukha Karta Dukha Harta......"

shows your smallness.

For all you know the company you work at is of an "outsider"

A impressive article.

We have started a online petition to make Mumbai a union territory(statehood can be debated later)

We plan to take this debate to the media after we reach 5000 signups and than to prime minister and parliament.

All bombay wellwishers should support this. We love maharastrians as much, we just cant see the spirit oof Bombay dying!

Bombay is not marathi, bihari, marwadi, Bombay is Bombay, it has an identity of its own.

Bombay can be a UT and capital of Maharastra like chandigarh is to Punjab.

This will pave the way for cenral government to give Bombay its due attention, will handover control to Local bombay leaders who understand Bombay better.

heres the link again.

Save Bombay!

5:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey you...dnt even try to touch amchi mumbai. 105 marathis have led down their lives for creation of samyukta maharashtra state. All the congress leaders were against us bcuz they wanted money which they got easily due to gujratis n marwaris. They killed common local men for that. N the original local ppl are marathis. You cant deny the right of marathis and MH to mumbai citing large-scale immigration wch has caused the change of demographics of the city. You cant separate our homeland for global interests. You cant play with sentiments of us marathis. Even before ur petition, we marathis will come together to make separate MH state frm india. Then the whole india will become as poor as african nations. Just take that in mind.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the central govt is very weak n more corrupt than maharashtra. Just see the corruption ratio map of india. In it, maharashtra has less corruption index compared to many states. If central govt exercises its powers here, mumbai will become next up/bihar n more insecured like delhi. Mumbai has progressd only due to maharashtra otherwise see kolkata wch is dying! Btw why have you vested your eyes on mumbai onlyif there is kolkata, chennai, hyderabad, bangalore, ahmedabad too cosmopolitan lyk mumbai?

2:22 PM  
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2:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sir ji....tenth place is not your Nagpur, a big big BIG India exists beyond your Maharashtra. (For pseudo marathis, nothing else apart from their so called Maharashtra exists on their maps) ninth place is Surat and then Kanpur and then Nagpur. U can check the census data n reclaim. Please edit ur bullshit comment.

5:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear anonymous, what marathis you are talking about? Those who were located off 50-70 kms from the former Mumbai island. They can't be locals to this city island and they are not. Strengthen your history knowledge and comment. In the easliest days recorded the history, the island was under the rule of Gujarat. And they had gifted to to dutch and they gifted to britishers. The island was in a territorry of transition, from Gujarat land to maharashtra. The city that way probably belonged to none. And mararhis were never the son of the soils. All those encroachers came and started claiming it after Britishers, parsis and gujaratis collectively developed it into the city. Marathis never existed on the island til early days. So don't claim yourselves as a dhartiputras. Mumbai would never produce such pseudo dhartiputras. You own no rights on our Mumbai. Mumbadevi ni jay. Mumbai apduj chhe, Ane apduj raheahe. Bachavo sheher ne Mara mitro, habitat aa lukhkhao patavi nakhshe Apda banya banavela aa rupalaa shaher ne. Jai Gujarat. Jai Mumbai.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Correct your history and check the physical and actual contribution of the communities making a Mumbai from nothing to the great city. The amount of blood and sweat shed for this city by parsis gujaratis and britishers, u marathis don't know it. What all u are doing now, is doing exact opposite to what these great people did. U r making it again into a worse place ...n these people's contribution. Look at the city today, look at ur sadiyal government and political leaders and corrupt transactions. And even socially pseudo leaders. You people aren't going to come over all this. Do all that in Maharashtra and not in Mumbai. People have sacrificed their lives to make the city. Give it to Gujarat or make it a union territory. We assure this city to make it an international hub in south Asia. We will give this city a life again, we have given birth to it, we know how to nurture it. You people being its distant relatives would never understand and be able to create a sentimental bond with this land. If you don't respect Gujarati asmita and our mumbai asmita, we know how to make all of you respect it. Jai Gujarat. Jai Mumbai.

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