Mumbai, earlier known as Bombay, is the capital of the State of Maharashtra. Mumbai is one of India’s most populous cities – with an estimated population of around 12.4 million as per the 2011 census. Unofficial estimates of the population today are twice this figure. It lies on the west coast of India, and has a deep natural harbour. It is made up of seven islands and was initially a home to fishermen (koli) communities. Over centuries, Mumbai has been under the control of various empires, and in the 17th Century Mumbai was handed over to the East India Company (the British Empire) as part of a royal dowry given to King Charles II of England upon his marriage to the Portuguese Princess Catherine of Braganza.
During the mid-18th century, Bombay was developed by ‘reclaiming’ the disconnected areas between the seven islands to form a metropolis. Along with the construction of roads and railways, the reclamation project was completed around 1845, and Bombay was developed into a major port in the Arabian Sea. Subsequently, through the 19th century, Bombay saw rapid economic and educational development and went on to become a stronghold for the Indian Independence Movement.
Today, Mumbai is home to important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), the National Stock Exchange of India (NSE), and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), and is the corporate headquarters of various Indian and multinational companies. It is also home to some of India’s premier scientific and nuclear institutes such as the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC), Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL), Indian Rare Earths (IREL), Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), Atomic Energy Commission of India, and the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE).
Mumbai is home to entertainment industry comprising Hindi (Bollywood) and Marathi cinema industries. Many migrants are attracted to Mumbai from all over India due to the city’s business opportunities and its potential to offer a higher standard of living, making it a vibrant melting pot of various cultures and communities.
Greater Mumbai covers an area of around 603 square kilometres, consisting of Mumbai city and suburbs – extending from Colaba in the south, to Mulund and Dahisar in the north, Mankhurd in the east, and the Arabian Sea in the west. It is administered by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), sometimes also referred to as the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation or Brihanmumbai Mahanagar Palika, formerly known as the Bombay Municipal Corporation (BMC).
It should be fascinating to trace the progress and evolution of Mumbai over the last many decades and identify the contributions made by BMC in its development. In the last few years, there have been suggestions to make Mumbai as an International Financial Centre. Whilst there is little doubt that Mumbai is the epicentre of economic activity in India and it is centre for the financial markets, it should be interesting to evaluate what makes a city an international centre.
An International city such as London, New York, Singapore are not merely the centres for financial markets but they provide such robust infrastructure to the residents that they have become the city of choice for professionals and businessmen from around the world. It is in this perspective that the role played by City Municipalities, Police and State government become significant. I have undertaken the task of studying the various activities that come under BMC and how it has fared over the last four or five decades.