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Mumbai:  A Rising International Financial Hub in Asia

By Srimal Fernando  Global Editor, The Diplomatic Society & Sonal Kukreti  Lail

9 May 2017

The city renowned as Mumbai, on India’s Arabian Sea has a long historic association as a dominant global commercial hub. Mumbai is one of the wealthiest diversified economies in India and is a vital trading center, linking the nation with the rest of the world.

Photo: The Gateway of India is a monument built during the British Raj in MumbaiAs one of the busiest ports in the world

The city is natural harbor. Once named ‘Bom Bahia’ by its Portuguese colonizers this city cluster of seven small islands was known as Bombay for much of the last four hundred years. Mumbai as it has been renamed after the goddess Mumbadevi also signifies a shift towards Indianisation and away from colonialism.

Mumbai handles almost half of countries maritime cargo.  It is a multi-cultural metropolis, home to over 20 million people and is known as the city of dreams to which thousands of people from different, states, cities and villages flock to daily in search for a better life.

As the Indian economy continues to grow and evolve, Mumbai the most economically powerful city contributes $209 billion, just over 5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), to the country’s economy.  As the country’s finance centre it has made a significant head way into the international market. The top Indian companies and multinational conglomerates are headquartered in the city making it one of the wealthiest cities in the world, a recent count indicating that it is host to 28 U$D billionaires. A research study published in Wealth Insight ranked Mumbai ranked sixth among top ten global cities on the billionaire count (Times of India 2013). Several companies based in the city are among the top of the fortune 500 companies in the World. In fact, the famous Bombay Stock Exchange   (BSE) Asia’s Oldest Stock Exchange a center of India’s commerce has been a city landmark since 1875.  
Photo: High rise buildings in Mumbai

Mumbai was never a particularly cheap place to live and was much more expensive   than rest of India. The splendid panoramic Marine Drive is also known as the Queen's Necklace from Nariman Point to the end of the Malabar Hills is a 4.3-kilometre-long boulevard in South Mumbai is an ideal place to enjoy the charm of city life. According to  realty services firm Cushman & Wakefield  Nariman  Point ,the business district in down town Mumbai is the fifth most expensive office location in the world   (Business Standard,2010).

Bombay is a bustling place where ancient culture and modern urban life coexist together. It is a city with a rapid development, where modern structures are raising alongside the 19th century buildings. In addition the city experiencing a high rise building boom that has transformed downtown with low-rise block to high-rise buildings in the last decade. Its tallest buildings ‘The Imperial’, ‘Three Sixty’, ‘ Palais Royale’  are some of the largest high rise blocks that  embrace the skyline of the city.  
In contrast towards a more multi-sector economy the city of Mumbai and its suburbs contributes 25 per cent of country’s industrial output. Over 8 million of companies based in the city are small or medium. For over several  decades  Dharavi a slum city in Mumbai  with a resident population of just over 1 million people  with 15,000  single room factories makes about nearly 1 billion dollars of annual revenue from recycling.

Photo: Mumbai Metro rail transportation system

Mumbai ‘s road infrastructure has been developing fast.The city transport infrastructure is relatively advanced and is the backbone of the city .The city has launched several high way projects to bolster the 1,900  kilometers of transport system. Having doubled in length in recent years; multi-lane expressways now connect several major cities with more constructions.  The construction of a US$ 250million Bandra- Worli Sea Link is a major transport upgrade in the Indian highway system to meet the growing transport requirement. Affordable  public bus services  operate to link various parts of the city ferrying an average of 4.8 million passengers daily.

The Mumbai Sub-urban rail transportation system network consist of number of lines that provide rapid links between the city zones and suburbs .It is the ideal way to get around Bombay quick and easy. More than 6 million commuters travel daily on Mumbai suburban railway routes. Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (CSTM) formerly known as Victoria Terminus, a historic railway station, is the biggest  railway station in Mumbai .Bombay Central is as most still call it and as the trains destination are still marked BCT – Bombay Central Terminus was built in the year 1930. It has an old world charm to it; one instantly feels a European touch to this old train station the moment you step out of your train at the station. Mumbai Central has in all 9 platforms; out of which 5 platforms are for intercity long distance trains and 4 platforms used for trains operating in and around the Mumbai. Bombay Central forms part of the western railways belt.   

Photo: Bandra- Worli Sea Link Bridge

The strong economic development in Mumbai has led to increasing cargo volumes, international trade and aviation connectivity with the world. Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is a major stopover point for many international flights along one of the world’s busiest aviation lanes.

Mumbai ports are an important transshipment hub with shipping, logistic services; refueling, refining, bunkering, dry docking for ship repair and building facilities .The Port of Mumbai and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) are world-class habours that led to increase in container volumes going in and out of India.

Mumbai is a place of cultural and historical importance and has been for many centuries. The city’s culture is closely associated with the country’s history and its geography. Thousands of tourists visit the Gateway of India, a monument erected to commemorate the landing of King George V and Queen Mary during the days of British Raj. This is one of many significant attractions of the city. These include the five-star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, High Court, Mumba Devi, Imperial twin-tower and the  Haji Ali Dargah are some of the prominent places of attracting many visitors from all parts of the world.

The city is not just admired for its beauty but also for its love for entertainment such as cricket, theatre, films, dances and music ranging from folk to traditional. Mumbai is the birthplace of Indian cinema fondly called "Bollywood". Bollywood film stars give the city a progressive and a positive image and play an important role in establishing a cultural identity for India. The city has made enormous strides in the recent years with sustained periods of economic growth that has fueled a series of economic booms. Due to its unique location in the Western  part of India  the city of Mumbai serves as an important gateway to India .



February/March 2020











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