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Mumbai /mʊmˈbaɪ/, formerly known as Bombay, is the capital city of the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the most populous city in India, and the fourth most populous city in the world, with a total metropolitan area population of approximately 20.5 million. Along with the neighbouring urban areas, including the cities of Navi Mumbai and Thane, it is one of the most populous urban regions in the world. Mumbai lies on the westcoast of India and has a deep natural harbour. In 2009, Mumbai was named an Alpha world city. It is also the wealthiest city in India, and has the highest GDP of any city in South, West or Central Asia. Mumbai has been ranked 6th among top 10 global cities on billionaire count, ahead of Shanghai, Paris and Los Angeles.
The seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai were home to communities of fishing colonies. For centuries, the islands were under the control of successive indigenous empires before being ceded to the Portuguese and subsequently to the British East India Company. During the mid-18th century, Mumbai was reshaped by the Hornby Vellard project, which undertook the reclamation of the area between the seven constituent islands from the sea.
Completed by 1845, the project along with construction of major roads and railways transformed Bombay into a major seaport on the Arabian Sea. Economic and educational development characterised the city during the 19th century. It became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the early 20th century. When India became independent in 1947, the city was incorporated into Bombay State. In 1960, following the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, a new state of Maharashtra was created with Bombay as capital. The city was renamed Mumbai in 1996, the name being derived from the Koli goddess—Mumbadevi.
Mumbai is the commercial and entertainment capital of India, it is also one of the world’s top 10 centres of commerce in terms of global financial flow, generating 5% of India’s GDP, and accounting for 25% of industrial output, 70% of maritime trade in India (Mumbai Port Trust & JNPT), and 70% of capital transactions to India’s economy. The city houses important financial institutions such as the Reserve Bank of India, the Bombay Stock Exchange, the National Stock Exchange of India, the SEBIand the corporate headquarters of numerous Indian companies and multinational corporations. It is also home to some of India’s premier scientific and nuclear institutes like BARC, NPCL, IREL, TIFR, AERB, AECI, and the Department of Atomic Energy. The city also houses India’s Hindi (Bollywood) and Marathi film and television industry. Mumbai’s business opportunities, as well as its potential to offer a higher standard of living, attract migrants from all over India and, in turn, make the city a melting pot of many communities and cultures.
The name Mumbai is derived from Mumba or Maha-Amba—the name of the Koligoddess Mumbadevi—and Aai, “mother” in the language of Marathi.
The oldest known names for the city are Kakamuchee and Galajunkja; these are sometimes still used. Ali Muhammad Khan, in the Mirat-i-Ahmedi (1507) referred to the city as Manbai. In 1508, Portuguese writer Gaspar Correia used the nameBombaim, in his Lendas da Índia (“Legends of India”). This name possibly originated as the Old Portuguese phrase bom baim, meaning “good little bay”, and Bombaim is still commonly used in Portuguese. In 1516, Portuguese explorer Duarte Barbosa used the name Tana-Maiambu: Tana appears to refer to the adjoining town of Thane and Maiambu toMumbadevi.
The temple of local Hindu goddess Mumbadevi, after whom the city of Mumbai derives its name
Other variations recorded in the 16th and the 17th centuries include: Mombayn (1525),Bombay (1538), Bombain (1552), Bombaym (1552), Monbaym (1554), Mombaim (1563),Mombaym (1644), Bambaye (1666), Bombaiim (1666), Bombeye (1676), and Boon Bay(1690). After the British gained possession of the city in the 17th century, thePortuguese name was officially anglicised as Bombay.
By the late 20th century, the city was referred to as Mumbai or Mambai in Marathi, Konkani, Gujarati,Kannada and Sindhi, and as Bambai in Hindi, Persian and Urdu. The English name was officially changed to Mumbai in November 1995. This came at the insistence of the Marathi nationalist Shiv Sena party that had just won the Maharashtra state elections and mirrored similar name changes across the country. They argued that “Bombay” was a corrupted English version of “Mumbai” and an unwanted legacy of British colonial rule The push to rename Bombay was part of a larger movement to strengthen Marathi identity in the Maharashtra region. However, the city is still referred to as Bombay by some of its residents and Indians from other regions as well. However, mentions of the city by the name other than Mumbai have been controversial, resulting in emotional outbursts sometimes of a violently political nature.
Fort of the waterpoint Built by the portugese in 1640
A widespread popular etymology of Bombay holds that it was derived from a Portuguese name meaning “good bay”. This is based on the facts that bom is Portuguese for “good” and baía (or the archaic spelling bahia) means “bay”. However, this literal translation would have been incorrect ingrammatical gender, as bom is masculine, while baia is feminine; a correct Portuguese rendering of “good bay” would be boa ba(h)ia. Having said this, baim is an archaic, masculine word for “little bay”.
Portuguese scholar José Pedro Machado in his Dicionário Onomástico Etimológico da Língua Portuguesa (1981; “Portuguese Dictionary of Onomastics and Etymology”), seems to reject the “Bom Bahia” hypothesis, suggesting that the presence of a bay was a coincidence (rather than a basis of the toponym) and led to a misconception, that the noun (bahia; “bay”) was an integral part of the Portuguese name.
Kanheri Caves served as a centre of Buddhism in Western India during ancient times
Mumbai is built on what was once an archipelago of seven islands: Bombay Island, Parel, Mazagaon,Mahim, Colaba, Worli, and Old Woman’s Island (also known as Little Colaba). It is not exactly known when these islands were first inhabited. Pleistocene sediments found along the coastal areas around Kandivali in northern Mumbai suggest that the islands were inhabited since the Stone Age Perhaps at the beginning of the Common era (2000 years ago), or possibly earlier, they came to be occupied by the Koli fishing community.
In the third century BCE, the islands formed part of the Maurya Empire, during its expansion in the south, ruled by the Buddhist emperor, Ashoka of Magadha. The Kanheri Caves in Borivali were excavated in the mid-third century BCE, and served as an important centre of Buddhism in Western India during ancient Times. The city then was known as Heptanesia (Ancient Greek: A Cluster of Seven Islands) to the Greek geographer Ptolemy in 150 CE.
Between the second century BCE and ninth century CE, the islands came under the control of successive indigenous dynasties: Satavahanas, Western Kshatrapas, Abhiras, Vakatakas,Kalachuris, Konkan Mauryas, Chalukyas and Rashtrakutas, before being ruled by the Silhara dynasty from 810 to 1260. Some of the oldest edifices in the city built during this period are,Jogeshwari Caves (between 520 to 525), Elephanta Caves (between the sixth to seventh century), Walkeshwar Temple (10th century), and Banganga Tank (12th century).
King Bhimdev founded his kingdom in the region in the late 13th century, and established his capital in Mahikawati (present dayMahim). The Pathare Prabhus, one of the earliest known settlers of the city, were brought to Mahikawati from Saurashtra in Gujarat around 1298 by Bhimdev. The Delhi Sultanate annexed the islands in 1347–48, and controlled it till 1407. During this time, the islands were administered by the Muslim Governors of Gujarat, who were appointed by the Delhi Sultanate.
The Haji Ali Dargah was built in 1431, when Mumbai was under the rule of theGujarat Sultanate
The islands were later governed by the independent Gujarat Sultanate, which was established in 1407. The Sultanate’s patronage led to the construction of many mosques, prominent being the Haji Ali Dargah in Worli, built in honour of the Muslim saint Haji Ali in 1431. From 1429 to 1431, the islands were a source of contention between the Gujarat Sultanate and theBahamani Sultanate of Deccan. In 1493, Bahadur Khan Gilani of the Bahamani Sultanate attempted to conquer the islands, but was defeated.
The Mughal Empire, founded in 1526, was the dominant power in the Indian subcontinentduring the mid-16th century. Growing apprehensive of the power of the Mughal emperorHumayun, Sultan Bahadur Shah of the Gujarat Sultanate was obliged to sign the Treaty of Bassein with the Portuguese Empire on 23 December 1534. According to the treaty, the seven islands of Bombay, the nearby strategic town of Bassein and its dependencies were offered to the Portuguese. The territories were later surrendered on 25 October 1535.
Ruins of the St. John the Baptist Church in SEEPZ, one of the earliest churches built by the Portuguese in the city
The Portuguese were actively involved in the foundation and growth of their Roman Catholic religious orders in Bombay.
Some of the oldest Catholic churches in the city such as the St. Michael’s Church at Mahim (1534), St. John the Baptist Church atAndheri (1579), St. Andrew’s Church at Bandra (1580), and Gloria Church at Byculla (1632), date from the Portuguese era. On 11 May 1661, the marriage treaty of Charles II of England and Catherine of Braganza, daughter of King John IV of Portugal, placed the islands in possession of the British Empire, as part of Catherine’s dowry to Charles. However, Salsette, Bassein, Mazagaon, Parel,Worli, Sion, Dharavi, and Wadala still remained under Portuguese possession. From 1665 to 1666, the British managed to acquire Mahim, Sion, Dharavi, and Wadala.
Remains of Fort George, an extension built to the fortified walls of Bombay in 1769.j
These islands were in turn leased to the British East India Company in 1668 for a sum of £10 per annum by the Royal Charter of 27 March 1668. The population quickly rose from 10,000 in 1661, to 60,000 in 1675. The islands were subsequently attacked byYakut Khan, the Siddi admiral of the Mughal Empire, in October 1672 Rickloffe van Goen, the Governor-General of Dutch India on 20 February 1673, and Siddi admiral Sambal on 10 October 1673.
In 1687, the British East India Company transferred its headquarters from Surat to Bombay. The city eventually became the headquarters of the Bombay Presidency. Following the transfer, Bombay was placed at the head of all the Company’s establishments in India. Towards the end of the 17th century, the islands again suffered incursions from Yakut Khan in 1689–90. The Portuguese presence ended in Bombay when the Marathas under Peshwa Baji Rao I captured Salsette in 1737, and Bassein in 1739.
A view of Mumbai, c. 1905
By the middle of the 18th century, Bombay began to grow into a major trading town, and received a huge influx of migrants from across India. Later, the British occupied Salsette on 28 December 1774. With the Treaty of Surat (1775), the British formally gained control ofSalsette and Bassein, resulting in the First Anglo-Maratha War. The British were able to secure Salsette from the Marathas without violence through the Treaty of Purandar (1776), and later through the Treaty of Salbai (1782), signed to settle the outcome of the First Anglo-Maratha War.
From 1782 onwards, the city was reshaped with large-scale civil engineering projects aimed at merging all the seven islands into a single amalgamated mass. This project, known as Hornby Vellard, was completed by 1784. In 1817, the British East India Company under Mountstuart Elphinstone defeated Baji Rao II, the last of the Maratha Peshwa in the Battle of Khadki. Following his defeat, almost the whole of the Deccan came under British suzerainty, and were incorporated in Bombay Presidency. The success of the British campaign in the Deccan witnessed the freedom of Bombay from all attacks by native powers.
Ships in Bombay Harbour (c. 1731). Bombay emerged as a significant trading town during the mid-18th century.
By 1845, the seven islands were coalesced into a single landmass by the Hornby Vellard project via large scale land reclamation. On 16 April 1853, India’s first passenger railway line was established, connecting Bombay to the neighbouring town of Thane. During the American Civil War (1861–1865), the city became the world’s chief cotton trading market, resulting in a boom in the economy that subsequently enhanced the city’s stature.
The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 transformed Bombay into one of the largest seaports on the Arabian Sea. In September 1896, Bombay was hit by a bubonic plague epidemic where the death toll was estimated at 1,900 people per week. About 850,000 people fled Bombay and the textile industry was adversely affected. As the capital of the Bombay Presidency, it witnessed the Indian independence movement, with the Quit India Movement in 1942 and The Royal Indian Navy Mutiny in 1946 being its most notable events.
The Hutatma Chowk memorial, built to honour the martyrs of theSamyukta Maharashtra movement. (Flora Fountain is on its left in the background.)
After India’s independence in 1947, the territory of the Bombay Presidency retained by India was restructured into Bombay State. The area of Bombay State increased, after several erstwhile princely states that joined the Indian union were integrated into the state. Subsequently, the city became the capital of Bombay State. On April 1950, Municipal limits of Bombay were expanded by merging theBombay Suburban District and Bombay City to form Greater Bombay Municipal Corporation.
The Samyukta Maharashtra movement to create a separate Maharashtra state including Bombay was at its height in the 1950s. In the Lok Sabha discussions in 1955, the Congress party demanded that the city be constituted as an autonomous city-state. The States Reorganisation Committee recommended a bilingual state for Maharashtra–Gujarat with Bombay as its capital in its 1955 report.Bombay Citizens’ Committee, an advocacy group of leading Gujarati industrialists lobbied for Bombay’s independent status.
The Sikh parade at the Gateway to India on the occasion of the departure of British Troops from India on 28 February 1948
Following protests during the movement in which 105 people were killed by police, Bombay State was reorganised on linguistic lines on 1 May 1960. Gujarati-speaking areas of Bombay State were partitioned into the state of Gujarat. Maharashtra State with Bombay as its capital was formed with the merger of Marathi-speaking areas of Bombay State, eight districts from Central Provinces and Berar, five districts from Hyderabad State, and numerous princely states enclosed between them. As a memorial to the martyrs of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, Flora Fountain was renamed as Hutatma Chowk (Martyr’s Square), and a memorial was erected.
The following decades saw massive expansion of the city and its suburbs. In the late 1960s, Nariman Point and Cuffe Parade were reclaimed and developed. The Bombay Metropolitan Region Development Authority (BMRDA) was set up on 26 January 1975 by the Government of Maharashtraas an apex body for planning and co-ordination of development activities in the Bombay metropolitan region. In August 1979, a sister township of Navi Mumbai was founded by City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) across Thane and Raigad districts to help the dispersal and control of Bombay’s population. Textile industry in Bombay largely disappeared after the massive 1982 Great Bombay Textile Strike, in which nearly 250,000 workers in more than 50 textile mills went on strike. Mumbai’s defunct cotton mills have since become the focus of intense redevelopment.
The Jawaharlal Nehru Port, which currently handles 55–60% of India’s containerised cargo, was commissioned on 26 May 1989 at Nhava Sheva with a view to de-congest Bombay Harbour and to serve as a hub port for the city. The geographical limits of Greater Bombay were coextensive with municipal limits of Greater Bombay. On 1 October 1990, the Greater Bombay district was bifurcated to form two revenue districts namely, Bombay City and Bombay Suburban, though they were administered by same Municipal Administration.
The past two decades have seen an increase in violence in the hitherto largely peaceful city. Following the demolition of the Babri Masjidin Ayodhya, the city was rocked by the Hindu-Muslim riots of 1992–93 in which more than 1,000 people were killed. On 12 March 1993,a series of 13 co-ordinated bombings at several city landmarks by Islamic extremists and the Bombay underworld resulted in 257 deaths and over 700 injuries. In 2006, 209 people were killed and over 700 injured when seven bombs exploded on the city’s commuter trains. In 2008, a series of ten coordinated attacks by armed terrorists for three days resulted in 173 deaths, 308 injuries, and severe damage to a couple of heritage landmarks and prestigious hotels. The blasts that occurred at the Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar, and Dadar on 13 July 2011 were the latest in the series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai.
Today, Mumbai is the commercial capital of India and has evolved into a global financial hub. For several decades it has been the home of India’s main financial services, and a focus for both infrastructure development and private investment. From being an ancient fishing community and a colonial centre of trade, Mumbai has become South Asia’s largest city and home of the world’s most prolific film industry.
Mumbai consists of two distinct regions: Mumbai City district and Mumbai Suburban district, which form two separate revenue districts of Maharashtra. The city district region is also commonly referred to as the Island City or South Mumbai. The total area of Mumbai is 603.4 km2 (233 sq mi). Of this, the island city spans 67.79 km2 (26 sq mi), while the suburban district spans 370 km2 (143 sq mi), together accounting for 437.71 km2 (169 sq mi) under the administration ofBrihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The remaining area belongs to Defence, Mumbai Port Trust, Atomic Energy Commission and Borivali National Park, which are out of the jurisdiction of the BMC.
Mumbai lies at the mouth of the Ulhas River on the western coast of India, in the coastal region known as the Konkan. It sits on Salsette Island, partially shared with the Thane district. Mumbai is bounded by the Arabian Sea to the west. Many parts of the city lie just above sea level, with elevations ranging from 10 m (33 ft) to 15 m (49 ft); the city has an average elevation of 14 m (46 ft). Northern Mumbai (Salsette) is hilly, and the highest point in the city is 450 m (1,476 ft) at Salsette in the Powai–Kanheri ranges. Sanjay Gandhi National Park (Borivali National Park) is located partly in the Mumbai suburban district, and partly in the Thane district, and it extends over an area of 103.09 km2 (39.80 sq mi).
Mumbai metropolitan region,Landsat 5 satellite image, 2011-01-30
Apart from the Bhatsa Dam, there are six major lakes that supply water to the city: Vihar, Lower Vaitarna, Upper Vaitarna, Tulsi, Tansa and Powai. Tulsi Lake and Vihar Lake are located in Borivili National Park, within the city’s limits. The supply from Powai lake, also within the city limits, is used only for agricultural and industrial purposes. Three small rivers, the Dahisar River, Poinsar (or Poisar) and Ohiwara (or Oshiwara) originate within the park, while the polluted Mithi River originates from Tulsi Lake and gathers water overflowing from Vihar and Powai Lakes. The coastline of the city is indented with numerous creeks and bays, stretching from Thane creek on the eastern to Madh Marve on the western front. The eastern coast of Salsette Island is covered with large mangroveswamps, rich in biodiversity, while the western coast is mostly sandy and rocky.
Soil cover in the city region is predominantly sandy due to its proximity to the sea. In the suburbs, the soil cover is largely alluvial and loamy. The underlying rock of the region is composed of blackDeccan basalt flows, and their acidic and basic variants dating back to the late Cretaceous and earlyEocene eras. Mumbai sits on a seismically active zone owing to the presence of 23 fault lines in the vicinity. The area is classified as a Seismic Zone III region, which means an earthquake of up to magnitude 6.5 on the Richter-scale may be expected.
Average temperature and precipitation in Mumbai
Mumbai has a tropical climate, specifically a tropical wet and dry climate (Aw) under the Köppen climate classification, with seven months of dryness and peak of rains in July. The cooler season from December to February is followed by the summer season from March to June. The period from June to about the end of September constitutes the south-west monsoon season, and October and November form the post-monsoon season.
Between June and September, the south west monsoon rains lash the city. Pre-monsoon showers are received in May. Occasionally, north-east monsoon showers occur in October and November. The maximum annual rainfall ever recorded was 3,452 mm (136 in) for 1954. The highest rainfall recorded in a single day was 944 mm (37 in) on 26 July 2005. The average total annual rainfall is 2,146.6 mm (85 in) for the Island City, and 2,457 mm (97 in) for the suburbs.
The average annual temperature is 27.2 °C (81 °F), and the average annual precipitation is 2,167 mm (85 in). In the Island City, the average maximum temperature is 31.2 °C (88 °F), while the average minimum temperature is 23.7 °C (75 °F). In the suburbs, the daily mean maximum temperature range from 29.1 °C (84 °F) to 33.3 °C (92 °F), while the daily mean minimum temperature ranges from16.3 °C (61 °F) to 26.2 °C (79 °F). The record high is 40.2 °C (104 °F) on 28 March 1982, and the record low is 7.4 °C (45 °F) on 27 January 1962.
Dadar and Worli Skyline
Mumbai is India’s largest city (by population) and is the financial and commercial capital of the country as it generates 6.16% of the total GDP. It serves as an economic hub of India, contributing 10% of factory employment, 25% of industrial output, 33% of income tax collections, 60% of customs duty collections, 20% of central excise tax collections, 40% of India’s foreign trade and 4,000 crore (US$680 million) in corporate taxes.
As of 2008, Mumbai’s GDP is 919,600 crore (US$160 billion), and its per-capita (PPP) income in 2009 was 486,000 (US$8,200), which is almost three times the national average. Its nominal per capita income is 125,000 (US$2,100), (US$2,094). Many of India’s numerous conglomerates (including Larsen and Toubro, State Bank of India, Life Insurance Corporation of India, Tata Group, Godrej and Reliance), and five of the Fortune Global 500 companies are based in Mumbai. Many foreign banks and financial institutions also have branches in this area, with the World Trade Centre being the most prominent one.
Mumbai is the Financial and Commercial capital of India, and the headquarters of many of India’s premier financial institutions are located in the city. Seen here is the Bandra-Worli Sea Link with the skyline of Mumbai in background
Until the 1970s, Mumbai owed its prosperity largely to textile mills and the seaport, but the local economy has since been diversified to include engineering, diamond-polishing, healthcare and information technology. As of 2008, the Globalization and World Cities Study Group (GaWC) has ranked Mumbai as an “Alpha world city”, third in its categories ofGlobal cities. Mumbai is the 3rd most expensive office market in the world. Mumbai was ranked among the fastest cities in the country for business startup in 2009.
State and central government employees make up a large percentage of the city’s workforce. Mumbai also has a large unskilled and semi-skilled self-employed population, who primarily earn their livelihood as hawkers, taxi drivers, mechanics and other such blue collarprofessions. The port and shipping industry is well established, with Mumbai Port being one of the oldest and most significant ports in India. In Dharavi, in central Mumbai, there is an increasingly large recycling industry, processing recyclable waste from other parts of the city; the district has an estimated 15,000 single-room factories.
Mumbai Skyline at Night
Most of India’s major television and satellite networks, as well as its major publishing houses, are headquartered in Mumbai. The centre of the Hindi movie industry, Bollywood, is the largest film producer in India and one of the largest in the world as well as centre of Marathi Film Industry. Along with the rest of India, Mumbai, its commercial capital, has witnessed an economic boom since the liberalisation of 1991, the finance boom in the mid-nineties and the IT, export, services and outsourcing boom in 2000s.
Mumbai has been ranked 6th among top 10 global cities on billionaire count, ahead of Shanghai, Paris and Los Angeles.
Mumbai has been ranked 48th on the Worldwide Centres of Commerce Index 2008. In April 2008, Mumbai was ranked seventh in the list of “Top Ten Cities for Billionaires” by Forbes magazine, and first in terms of those billionaires’ average wealth.
Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) Headquarters, the largest civic organisation in the country.
Mumbai, extending from Colaba in the south, to Mulund and Dahisar in the north, and Mankhurd in the east, is administered by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The BMC is in charge of the civic and infrastructure needs of the metropolis. The Mayor is usually chosen through indirect election by the councillors from among themselves for a term of two and half years.
The Municipal Commissioner is the chief Executive Officer and head of the executive arm of the Municipal Corporation. All executive powers are vested in the Municipal Commissioner who is anIndian Administrative Service (IAS) officer appointed by the state government. Although the Municipal Corporation is the legislative body that lays down policies for the governance of the city, it is the Commissioner who is responsible for the execution of the policies. The Commissioner is appointed for a fixed term as defined by state statute. The powers of the Commissioner are those provided by statute and those delegated by the Corporation or the Standing Committee.
The two revenue districts of Mumbai come under the jurisdiction of a District Collector. The Collectors are in charge of property records and revenue collection for the Central Government, and oversee the national elections held in the city.
The Bombay High Court exercises jurisdiction over Maharashtra, Goa, Daman and Diu, and Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
The Mumbai Police is headed by a Police Commissioner, who is an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer. The Mumbai Police comes under the state Home Ministry. The city is divided into seven police zones and seventeen traffic police zones, each headed by a Deputy Commissioner of Police. The Traffic Police is a semi-autonomous body under the Mumbai Police. The Mumbai Fire Brigade department is headed by the Chief Fire Officer, who is assisted by four Deputy Chief Fire Officers and six Divisional Officers.
Mumbai is the seat of the Bombay High Court, which exercises jurisdiction over the states of Maharashtra and Goa, and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli. Mumbai also has two lower courts, the Small Causes Court for civil matters, and the Sessions Court for criminal cases. Mumbai also has a special TADA (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities) court for people accused of conspiring and abetting acts of terrorism in the city.
First session of the Indian National Congress in Bombay (28–31 December 1885)
Mumbai has been a traditional stronghold and birthplace of the Indian National Congress, also known as the Congress Party. The first session of the Indian National Congress was held in Bombay from 28–31 December 1885. The city played host to the Indian National Congress six times during its first 50 years, and became a strong base for the Indian independence movement during the 20th century.
The 1960s saw the rise of regionalist politics in Bombay, with the formation of the Shiv Senaon 19 June 1966, out of a feeling of resentment about the relative marginalisation of the native Marathi people in Bombay. The party headed a campaign to expel South Indian and North Indian migrants by force. The Congress had dominated the politics of Bombay from independence until the early 1980s, when the Shiv Sena won the 1985 Bombay municipal corporation elections.
In 1989, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), a major national political party, forged an electoral alliance with the Shiv Sena to dislodge the Congress in the Maharashtra Legislative Assemblyelections. In 1999, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) separated from the Congress, but later allied with the Congress, to form a joint venture known as the Democratic Front. Currently, other parties such as Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS), Samajwadi Party(SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and several independent candidates also contest elections in the city.
In the Indian national elections held every five years, Mumbai is represented by six parliamentary constituencies: Mumbai North, Mumbai North West, Mumbai North East, Mumbai North Central, Mumbai South Central, and Mumbai South. A Member of Parliament (MP) to the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the Indian Parliament, is elected from each of the parliamentary constituencies. In the 2009 national elections, out of the six parliamentary constituencies, five were won by the Congress, and one by the NCP. In the Maharashtra state assembly elections held every five years, Mumbai is represented by 36 assembly constituencies.
A Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) to the Maharashtra Vidhan Sabha (Legislative Assembly) is elected from each of the assembly constituencies. In the 2009 state assembly elections, out of the 36 assembly constituencies, 17 were won by the Congress, 6 by the MNS, 5 by the BJP, 4 by the Shiv Sena, 3 by the NCP and 1 by SP. Elections are also held every five years to elect corporators to power in the BMC.
The Corporation comprises 227 directly elected Councillors representing the 24 municipal wards, five nominated Councillors having special knowledge or experience in municipal administration, and a Mayor whose role is mostly ceremonial. In the 2007 municipal corporation elections, out of the 227 seats, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance secured 111 seats, holding power in the BMC, while the Congress-NCP alliance bagged 85 seats. The tenure of the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Municipal Commissioner is two and a half years.
Mumbai Suburban Railway system carries more than 6.99 million commuters on a daily basis. It has the highest passenger densities of any urban railway system in the world.
Public transport systems in Mumbai include the Mumbai Suburban Railway, Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) buses, black-and-yellow meter taxis, auto rickshaws andferries. Suburban railway and BEST bus services together accounted for about 88% of the passenger traffic in 2008.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, formerly known as Victoria Terminus, is the headquarters of the Central Railwayand a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Mumbai Suburban Railway, popularly known as Locals forms the backbone of the city’s transport system. It is operated by Central Railway and Western Railway. Mumbai’s suburban rail systems carried a total of 6.3 million passengers every day in 2007, which is more than half of the Indian Railways daily carrying capacity. Trains are overcrowded during peak hours, with nine-car trains of rated capacity 1,700 passengers, actually carrying around 4,500 passengers at peak hours. The Mumbai rail network is spread at an expanse of 319 route kilometres. 191 rakes (ratin-sets) of 9 car and 12 car composition are utilised to run a total of 2,226 train services in the city.
The Mumbai Monorail and Mumbai Metro are under construction and expected to be partially operational in 2013, relieving overcrowding on the existing network.
Mumbai is the headquarters of two of Indian Railways’ zones: the Central Railway (CR)headquartered at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus (formerly Victoria Terminus), and the Western Railway (WR) headquartered at Churchgate. Mumbai is also well connected to most parts of India by the Indian Railways. Long-distance trains originate from Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus,Dadar, Lokmanya Tilak Terminus, Mumbai Central, Bandra Terminus, Andheri and Borivali.
A BESTStarbus. BEST buses carry a total of 4.5 million passengers daily.
Mumbai’s bus services carried over 5.5 million passengers per day in 2008. Public buses run by BEST cover almost all parts of the metropolis, as well as parts of Navi Mumbai, Mira-Bhayandar and Thane. The BEST operates a total of 4,608 buses with CCTV Camera installed, ferrying 4.5 million passengers daily over 390 routes. Its fleet consists of single-decker, double-decker, vestibule, low-floor, disabled-friendly, air-conditioned and Euro IIIcompliant diesel and Compressed Natural Gas powered buses. Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses provide intercity transport and connect Mumbai with other major cities of Maharashtra and India. Navi Mumbai Municipal Transport (NMMT) also operates its Volvo buses in Mumbai, from Navi Mumbai to Bandra, Dindoshi and Borivali.
Buses are generally favoured for commuting short to medium distances, while train fares are more economical for longer distance commutes.
The Mumbai Darshan is a tourist bus service which explores numerous tourist attractions in Mumbai. Mumbai BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) lanes have been planned throughout Mumbai, with buses running on seven routes as of March 2009 Though 88% of the city’s commuters travel by public transport, Mumbai still continues to struggle with traffic congestion. Mumbai’s transport system has been categorised as one of the most congested in the world.
The Bandra-Worli Sea Link is a cable-stayed bridge that connects central Mumbai with its western suburbs
Mumbai is served by National Highway 3, National Highway 4, National Highway 8, National Highway 17 and National Highway 222 of India’s National Highways system. The Mumbai-Pune Expressway was the first expressway built in India, while the Mumbai Nashik Expressway, Mumbai-Vadodara Expressway, Western Freeway and Eastern Freeway is under construction. The Bandra-Worli Sea Link bridge, along with Mahim Causeway, links the island city to the western suburbs. The three major road arteries of the city are the Eastern Express Highway from Sion to Thane, the Sion Panvel Expressway from Sion to Panvel and the Western Express Highway from Bandra to Borivali. Mumbai has approximately 1,900 km (1,181 mi) of roads.
Auto rickshaws are allowed to operate only in the suburban areas of Mumbai, while taxis are allowed to operate throughout Mumbai, but generally operate in South Mumbai.
The black and yellow Premier Padmini Taxis are iconic of Mumbai.
Taxis and rickshaws in Mumbai are required by law to run on compressed natural gas (CNG), and are a convenient, economical, and easily available means of transport.
Tonga seen at night in the Marine Driveroad
Mumbai had about 1.53 million vehicles in 2008, 56,459 black and yellow taxis as of 2005, and 106,000 auto rickshaws, as of May 2013. According to State transport department figures, the number of vehicles registered with the city’s three RTOs went up from 10,69,499 in 2002 to 20,35,051 in 2012, a rise of 90.28%. A comprehensive transport study conducted shows that between 1991 and 2005, cars have increased by 137%, two wheelers by 306%, autos by 420%, and taxis by 125% in Mumbai.
Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airportis India’s second-busiest airport in terms of passenger traffic.
The Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (formerly Sahar International Airport) is the main aviation hub in the city and the second busiest airport in India in terms of passenger traffic. It handled 30.74 million passengers and 656,369 tonnes of cargo during FY 2011-12. An upgrade plan was initiated in 2006, targeted at increasing the capacity of the airport to handle up to 40 million passengers annually. .
The proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport to be built in the Kopra-Panvel area has been sanctioned by the Indian Government and will help relieve the increasing traffic burden on the existing airport.
The Juhu Aerodrome was India’s first airport, and now hosts a flying club and a heliport.
Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust is the busiest port in India
Mumbai is served by two major ports, Mumbai Port Trust and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, which lies just across the creek in Navi Mumbai. Mumbai Port has one of the best natural harbours in the world, and has extensive wet and dry dock accommodation facilities. Jawaharlal Nehru Port, commissioned on 26 May 1989, is the busiest and most modern major port in India. It handles 55–60% of the country’s total containerised cargo. Ferries from Ferry Wharf in Mazagaon allow access to islands near the city.
The city is also the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, and also an important base for the Indian Navy.
Under colonial rule, tanks were the only source of water in Mumbai. Many localities have been named after them. The BMC supplies potable water to the city from six lakes, most of which comes from the Tulsi and Vihar lakes. The Tansa lake supplies water to the western suburbs and parts of the island city along the Western Railway. The water is filtered at Bhandup, which is Asia’s largest water filtration plant. India’s first underground water tunnel is being built in Mumbai.
About 700 million litres of water, out of a daily supply of 3500 million litres, is lost by way of water thefts, illegal connections and leakages, per day in Mumbai. Almost all of Mumbai’s daily refuse of 7,800 metric tonnes, of which 40 metric tonnes is plastic waste, is transported to dumping grounds in Gorai in the northwest, Mulund in the northeast, and to the Deonar dumping ground in the east. Sewage treatment is carried out at Worli and Bandra, and disposed of by two independent marine outfalls of 3.4 km (2.11 mi) and 3.7 km (2.30 mi) at Bandra and Worli respectively.
Electricity is distributed by Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) in the island city, and by Reliance Energy, Tata Power, and Mahavitaran (Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Co. Ltd) in the suburbs. Consumption of electricity is growing faster than production capacity. The largest telephone service provider is the state-owned MTNL, which held a monopoly over fixed line and cellular services up until 2000, and provides fixed line as well as mobile WLL services.
Cell phone coverage is extensive, and the main service providers are Vodafone Essar, Airtel, MTNL, Loop Mobile, Reliance Communications, Idea Cellular and Tata Indicom. Both GSM and CDMA services are available in the city. Many of the above service providers also provide broadband internet and wireless internet access in Mumbai. Mumbai has highest number of internet users in India with 14.3 million users.
Skyline of the city during the day.
The architecture of the city is a blend of Gothic Revival, Indo-Saracenic, Art Deco, and other contemporary styles. Most of the buildings during the British period, such as the Victoria Terminus and Bombay University, were built in Gothic Revival style. Their architectural features include a variety of European influences such as German gables, Dutch roofs, Swiss timbering, Romance arches, Tudor casements, and traditional Indian features. There are also a few Indo-Saracenic styled buildings such as the Gateway of India. Art Deco styled landmarks can be found along the Marine Drive and west of the Oval Maidan. Mumbai has the second largest number of Art Deco buildings in the world after Miami.
In the newer suburbs, modern buildings dominate the landscape. Mumbai has by far the largest number of skyscrapers in India, with 956 existing buildings and 272 under construction as of 2009.
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC), established in 1995, formulates special regulations and by-laws to assist in the conservation of the city’s heritage structures. Mumbai has two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus and the Elephanta Caves. Popular tourist attractions in the city are Nariman Point, Girgaum Chowpatti, Juhu Beach, and Marine Drive. Essel World is a theme park and amusement centre situated close to Gorai Beach, and includes Asia’s largest theme water park, Water Kingdom.
Seen here is the crowd, which includes international and local tourists, local photographers with the monument at the background.
In the south of Mumbai, there are colonial-era buildings and Soviet-style offices.
In the east are factories and some slums. On the West coast are former-textile mills being demolished and skyscrapers built on top. There are 31 buildings taller than 100m, compared with 200 in Shanghai, 500 in Hong Kong and 500 in New York.
Census Pop. %±
1971 5,970,575 —
1981 8,243,405 38.1%
1991 9,925,891 20.4%
2001 11,914,398 20.0%
2011 12,478,447 4.7%
According to the 2011 census, the population of Mumbai was 12,479,608. The population density is estimated to be about 20,482 persons per square kilometre. The living space is 4.5sq metre per person. As Per 2011 census, Greater Mumbai, the area under the administration of the MCGM, has a literacy rate of 94.7%, higher than the national average of 86.7%. The number of slum-dwellers is estimated to be 9 million, up from 6 million in 2001, that is, 62% of all Mumbaikers live in informal slums.
The sex ratio was 838 (females per 1,000 males) in the island city, 857 in the suburbs, and 848 as a whole in Greater Mumbai, all numbers lower than the national average of 914 females per 1,000 males. The low sex ratio is partly because of the large number of male migrants who come to the city to work.
Residents of Mumbai call themselves Mumbaikar, Mumbaiite or Bombayite. Mumbai has a large polyglot population like any other metropolitan city of India. Marathi, the official language of Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, is widely spoken and understood in the city. Sixteen major languages of India are also spoken in Mumbai, most common being Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati and English. English is extensively spoken and is the principal language of the city’s white collar workforce. A colloquial form of Hindi, known as Bambaiya – a blend of Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, Konkani, Urdu, Indian Englishand some invented words – is spoken on the streets.
The number of households in Mumbai is forecast to rise from 4.2 million in 2008 to 6.6 million in 2020. The number of households with annual incomes of 2 million rupees will increase from 4% to 10% by 2020, amounting to 660,000 families. The number of households with incomes from 1-2 million rupees is also estimated to increase from 4% to 15% by 2020.
Others include Jains, Sikhs & Parsis
Religion in Mumbai
Banganga Tank and Walkeshwar Temple Bombay c.1855
The religions represented in Mumbai include Hindus (67.39%), Muslims (18.56%),Buddhists (5.22%), Jains (3.99%), Christians (4.2%), Sikhs (0.58%), with Parsisand Jews making up the rest of the population. The linguistic/ethnic demographics are: Maharashtrians (42%), Gujaratis (19%), with the rest hailing from other parts of India.
Native Christians include East Indian (ethnic group) Catholics who were converted by the Portuguese, during the 18th & 19th century. The city also has a small native Bene Israeli Jewish community, who migrated from thePersian Gulf or Yemen, probably 1600 years ago. Mumbai is also home to the largest population of Parsi Zoroastrians in the world, numbering about 80,000. Parsis migrated to India from Pars (Persia/Iran) following the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century AD. The oldest Muslim communities in Mumbai include the Dawoodi Bohras, Ismaili Khojas, and Konkani Muslims.
This is one of the heritage cites; the oldest public libraries in the city.
Mumbai’s culture is a blend of traditional festivals, food, music and theatres. The city offers a cosmopolitan and diverse lifestyle with a variety of food, entertainment and night life, available in a form and abundance comparable to that in other world capitals. Mumbai’s history as a major trading centre has led to a diverse range of cultures, religions and cuisines coexisting in the city. This unique blend of cultures is due to the migration of people from all over India since the British period.
Mumbai is the birthplace of Indian cinema —Dadasaheb Phalke laid the foundations with silent movies followed by Marathi talkies—and the oldest film broadcast took place in the early 20th century. Mumbai also has a large number of cinema halls that feature Bollywood, Marathi and Hollywood movies. The Mumbai International Film Festival and the award ceremony of the Filmfare Awards, the oldest and prominent film awards given for Hindi film industry in India, are held in Mumbai. Despite most of the professional theatre groups that formed during the British Raj having disbanded by the 1950s, Mumbai has developed a thriving “theatre movement” tradition in Marathi, Hindi, English and other regional languages.
Contemporary art is featured in both government-funded art spaces and private commercial galleries. The government-funded institutions include the Jehangir Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Modern Art. Built in 1833, the Asiatic Society of Bombay is one of the oldest public libraries in the city. The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (formerly The Prince of Wales Museum) is a renowned museum in South Mumbai which houses rare ancient exhibits of Indian history.
Mumbai has a zoo named Jijamata Udyaan (formerly Victoria Gardens), which also harbours a garden. The rich literary traditions of the city have been highlighted internationally by Booker Prize winners Salman Rushdie, Aravind Adiga. Marathi literature has been modernised in the works of Mumbai based authors such as Mohan Apte, Anant Kanekar, and Gangadhar Gadgil, and is promoted through an annual Sahitya Akademi Award, a literary honour bestowed by India’s National Academy of Letters.
Mumbai residents celebrate both Western and Indian festivals. Diwali, Holi, Eid, Christmas, Navratri, Good Friday, Dussera, Moharram,Ganesh Chaturthi, Durga Puja and Maha Shivratri are some of the popular festivals in the city. The Kala Ghoda Arts Festival is an exhibition of a world of arts that encapsulates works of artists in the fields of music, dance, theatre, and films. A week long annual fair known as Bandra Fair, starting on the following Sunday after 8 September, is celebrated by people of all faiths, to commemorate theNativity of Mary, mother of Jesus, on 8 September.
The Banganga Festival is a two-day music festival, held annually in the month of January, which is organised by the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) at the historic Banganga Tank in Mumbai. The Elephanta Festival—celebrated every February on the Elephanta Islands—is dedicated to classical Indian dance and music and attracts performers from across the country. Public holidays specific to the city and the state include Maharashtra Day on 1 May, to celebrate the formation of Maharashtra state on 1 May 1960, and Gudi Padwa which is the New Year’s Day for Marathi people.
The Times of India’s first office is opposite the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus where it was founded.
Mumbai has numerous newspaper publications, television and radio stations. Marathi dailies enjoy the maximum readership share in the city and the top Marathi language newspapers are Maharashtra Times, Navakaal, Lokmat, Loksatta, Mumbai Chaufer,Saamana and Sakaal. Popular Marathi language magazines are Saptahik Sakaal,Grihashobhika, Lokrajya, Lokprabha & Chitralekha. Popular English language newspapers published and sold in Mumbai include The Times of India, Mid-day,Hindustan Times, DNA India, and The Indian Express. Newspapers are also printed in other Indian languages. Mumbai is home to Asia’s oldest newspaper, Bombay Samachar, which has been published in Gujarati since 1822. Bombay Durpan, the first Marathi newspaper, was started by Balshastri Jambhekar in Mumbai in 1832.
Numerous Indian and international television channels can be watched in Mumbai through one of the Pay TV companies or the local cable television provider. The metropolis is also the hub of many international media corporations, with many news channels and print publications having a major presence. The national television broadcaster, Doordarshan, provides two free terrestrial channels, while three main cable networks serve most households.
The wide range of cable channels available includes Zee Marathi, Zee Talkies, ETV Marathi, Star Pravah, Mi Marathi, DD Sahyadri (All Marathi channels), news channels such as Star Majha, Lokmat IBN, Zee 24 Taas, sports channels like ESPN, Star Sports, National entertainment channels like Colors, Sony Zee TV and STAR Plus. News channels entirely dedicated to Mumbai include Sahara Samay Mumbai. Zing a popular Bollywood gossip channel is also based out of Mumbai. Satellite television (DTH) has yet to gain mass acceptance, due to high installation costs. Prominent DTH entertainment services in Mumbai include Dish TV and Sky by Tata.
There are twelve radio stations in Mumbai, with nine broadcasting on the FM band, and three All India Radio stations broadcasting on theAM band. Mumbai also has access to Commercial radio providers such as WorldSpace, Sirius and XM. The Conditional Access System (CAS) started by the Union Government in 2006 met a poor response in Mumbai due to competition from its sister technologyDirect-to-Home (DTH) transmission service.
Bollywood, the Hindi film industry based in Mumbai, produces around 150–200 films every year. The name Bollywood is a blend of Bombay and Hollywood. The 2000s saw a growth in Bollywood’s popularity overseas. This led filmmaking to new heights in terms of quality, cinematography and innovative story lines as well as technical advances such as special effects and animation. Studios in Goregaon, including Film City, are the location for most movie sets. The city also hosts the Marathi film industry which has seen increased popularity in recent years, and TV production companies.
Rajabai Clock Tower at theUniversity of Mumbai
Schools in Mumbai are either “municipal schools” (run by the BMC) or private schools (run by trusts or individuals), which in some cases receive financial aid from the government. The schools are affiliated either with the Maharashtra State Board (MSBSHSE), The all-India Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS) or the Central Board for Secondary Education (CBSE) boards. ] Marathi or English is the usual language of instruction. The government run public schools lack many facilities, but are the only option for poorer residents who cannot afford the more expensive private schools.
Under the 10+2+3/4 plan, students complete ten years of schooling and then enroll for two years injunior college, where they select one of three streams: arts, commerce, or science. This is followed by either a general degree course in a chosen field of study, or a professional degree course, such as law, engineering and medicine. Most colleges in the city are affiliated with the University of Mumbai, one of the largest universities in the world in terms of the number of graduates.
The Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay), Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI), University Institute of Chemical Technology (UICT) which are India’s premier engineering and technology schools, and SNDT Women’s University are the other autonomous universities in Mumbai. Grant Medical College established in 1845 and Seth G.S. Medical College are the leading medical institutes affiliated with Sir Jamshedjee Jeejeebhoy Group of Hospitals and KEM Hospital respectively. Mumbai is also home to National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Jamnalal Bajaj Institute of Management Studies (JBIMS), S P Jain Institute of Management and Research and several other management schools. Government Law College and Sydenham College, respectively the oldest law and commerce colleges in India, are based in Mumbai. The Sir J. J. School of Art is Mumbai’s oldest art institution.
Mumbai is home to two prominent research institutions: the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), and the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). The BARC operates CIRUS, a 40 MW nuclear research reactor at their facility in Trombay.
Brabourne Stadium, one of the oldest cricket stadiums in the country
Cricket is more popular than any other sport in the city. Due to a shortage of grounds, various modified versions (generally referred to as gully cricket) are played everywhere. Mumbai is also home to the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and Indian Premier League(IPL). The Mumbai cricket team represents the city in the Ranji Trophy and has won 40 titles, the most by any team. The city is also represented by the Mumbai Indians in theIndian Premier League. The city has two international cricket grounds, the Wankhede Stadium and the Brabourne Stadium. The first cricket test match in India was played in Mumbai at Bombay Gymkhana. The biggest cricketing event to be staged in the city so far is the final of the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup which was played at the Wankhede Stadium. Mumbai and London are the only two cities to have hosted both a World Cup final and the final of an ICC Champions Trophy which was played at the Brabourne Stadium in2006.
Football is another popular sport in the city, with the FIFA World Cup and the EnglishPremier League being followed widely. In the I-League (matches in the city are played at the Cooperage Ground), the city is represented by three teams, Mumbai FC, Mahindra United and Air-India. Mumbai is home to the Mumbai Marines and Mumbai Magicians in the World Series Hockey and Hockey India League respectively . When theElite Football League of India was introduced in August 2011, Mumbai was noted as one of eight cities to be awarded a team for the inaugural season. Named the Mumbai Gladiators, the team’s first season was played in Pune in late 2012, and it is Mumbai’s first professional American football franchise.
Built in 1883, Mahalaxmi Racecourse was created out of a marshy land known as Mahalakshmi Flats.
Every February, Mumbai holds derby races at the Mahalaxmi Racecourse. Mcdowell’s Derby is also held in February at the Turf Club in Mumbai. In March 2004, the Mumbai Grand Prix was part of the F1 powerboat world championship. and the Force India F1 team car was unveiled in the city, in 2008. The city is planning to build its own F1 track and various sites in the city were being chalked out, of which the authorities have planned to zero down on Marve-Malad or Panvel-Kalyan land. If approved, the track will be clubbed with a theme park and will spread over 400 to 500 acres (202 ha). In 2004, the annual Mumbai Marathon was established as a part of “The Greatest Race on Earth”. Mumbai has also played host to the Kingfisher Airlines Tennis Open, an International Series tournament of the ATP World Tour, in 2006 and 2007.
BY PETE BROOK
In The Seven Percent project, Reed Young photographed India’s growing elite to show that the country is more varied economically than has been traditionally documented in the media.
Karanvir Singh Sibia, “Sunny” to his friends, originally from Singur, lives in Chandigarh with his wife, son, and daughter-in-law. He started his first stud farm in the 1980s on his family’s land in Jind and recently opened a second in Roper. Eight years ago, after his son came back from Australia, where he studied and lived for seven years, they started a real estate development company operating in Chandgarh and surrounding areas.
“One would like to see more industry growth because we are seeing a lot of our younger generations migrating to other countries, so if there are better job opportunities back home, I’m sure they would rather stay back and try and avail of some of the benefits that would come about.”
“Whenever I saw pictures of India, they were images of impoverished people in the streets,” says Young. “I was curious to see this other side that everyone was talking about.”
Gaj Singh is the son of the last nobleman of Alsisa, Rajasthan. Born in Jaipur, he was in the army before launching his hotel business. He now owns three hotels in Rajasthan, two of which are his family residences converted into heritage accommodations. He is married, has two sons, and lives in Alsisa Haveli, his hotel in Jaipur.
“We had so many people working around us […] but gradually it faded and by the time I was passing out of school in 1976, we didn’t have many people working for us, but again, with this present business […] the bygone era has come back.”
Tegvir Singh Sibia, “Gogi,” son of ex-minister of state Gurbaksh Singh Sibia, is an agriculturist and owner of a mechanised farm. Twice president of the Chandigarh golf club, he lives with his son and daughter and, with his brother “Sunny,” is on the board of directors of two educational institution in his native Singur.
“We were pioneers in whatever we did, in agriculture especially, we started the first seed business in India, and we were very happy with that […] We drove ourselves to do it [machine-based agriculture], and it was a time of chang. And if we didn’t change, primitive farming was not going to pay, so we had to change. There was no question.”
Gunjan Gupta is a furniture designer. Originally from Bombay, she studied in London and now runs an environmentally green design studio and production unit in Gurgaon, where she lives with her husband and two daughters.
“I think one of the challenges that I find as a parent in the India of today, which is modernising at such a crazy pace, is this growing up in excess. Our kids are growing up with just too much: too much access, too much aspiration. […] So in that sense I feel that it’s the whole idea of value that’s really important, and as a parent I really worry about that. You can’t compare India at the time when we were growing up and India today; you can’t say it’s the same country. […] We were just totally living in isolation […]. When we used to travel, I remember collecting Coke cans […] because none of that stuff was available here.”
“We had so many people working around us […] but gradually it faded and by the time I was passing out of school in 1976, we didn’t have many people working for us, but again, with this present business […] the bygone era has come back.”
His title is a nod to India’s 7 percent GDP growth rate in 2011, which is when he made the photos. His subjects are businessmen, professionals, and ex-nobility. They’re photographed in cravats and blazers and posed beside horses, pools, and vintage cars. Designer furniture and designer pets abound.
Percy Billimoria is one of India’s most successful corporate lawyers. Originally from Bombay, he has been living in Delhi for over twenty years. He lives in a farmhouse in South Delhi.
“I grew up in an India which suffered from a miscarried socialism. I am a free market proponent, […] I believe that the market sorts itself out; it’s not to say that there’s nothing wrong with the way free markets work. It’s not a perfect model, but ultimately market forces are the best solution to the problems that market forces themselves create.”
Historically, social status in India has been tied to the country’s caste system, which organizes people, particularly Hindu, into a hierarchy of groups. But the current Indian constitution bans discrimination on the basis of caste, and the Indian government has instituted affirmative action programs to help lower classes gain political, social, and financial success.
Sukhwant Singh is a steel industrialist. He owns a plant on the outskirts of Indore and manages two Tata Steel factories, in Baroda and Sri Lanka. Once leading a much bigger industry, he had to reduce the size of his business due to an infrastructure-generated crisis, but is now again in a growing phase.
Colonel Kuldeep Singh Garcha, a businessman, is a retired national polo player and army officer. Originally from Punjab, he lives with his wife in Jaipur. His son, also a polo player and a businessman, lives in Singapore.
“You know there are two things in life, ambition and desire. I let my desires run wild, because whatever I achieved I feel happy about […]. But if you are ambitious and from 0 to 10 you reach 8, you still have a negativity [because] you haven’t got that 10. So I’m not ambitious. I desire, I desire the stars and if I fall short I’ll probably land at the moon.”
Rohan Jetley is a businessman. Born in Delhi, he lived with his family in Bombay and Singapore before moving back to the capital city. After graduating in Hawaii and working for Merrill Lynch, he moved back to India and manages T.G.I.F. India, one of the family businesses.
“Before, unless you were educated and unless you came from a certain background and you had certain contacts, there were very little chances to make it. Today, because of the corporate structure that exists, it’s all merit-based, so if you work hard enough and you’re a diligent and intelligent person, you inevitably make it to where you want to go.”
“The disparity is so visible, it’s so obvious. How does it look if I’m driving a Mercedes and another guy doesn’t even have a bicycle?”
Bombay-born Kavita Sanghi, wife of late industrialist and businessman Satish Sanghi, lives in Indore in a house designed by Eckart Muthesius, which originally served as the servant quarters for the maharaja’s palace. She runs a textile business and, together with her son who owns a home next door, they own nine male pedigree dogs.
“It was me who started with the textile business since my children had grown up and […] I had all the time to myself, so I told him [my husband] I want to start this. He didn’t like it in the beginning because most women of India’s upper class at that time weren’t open to work, [but] I said ‘but I don’t like sitting with ladies all day and just talking about household affairs, I’d like to start designing.'[…] So then he agreed to it and supported me right through.”
Dibang, originally from the northeastern state of Arunanchal Pradesh, is a well-known TV journalist and news anchor. He lives in South Delhi.
“I think traditionally in India money is supposed to be bad. If you’re rich that means you’ve done something wrong, so even if you’re rich you would never say I’m rich, […] you would always underplay it. It’s a strange thing that happens here.”
“Making money is very important, but more important is how you make money, especially in this society. If I don’t have the modesty, if I don’t have the sensitivity to understand people, I’m a criminal.”
Karan Talwar is a businessman from Delhi running one of his family enterprises dealing in automotive parts, the electronic industry, and mining. After the completion of his business degree in London, he moved back to Delhi, where he built an apartment for himself in his family home.
“I’ve already seen salary hikes in the workers’ wages, the minimum wage in the state we operate in keeps jumping up. [But the] monthly wage of an Indian worker is so different from an American worker, that gap is so wide that it’s going to take a couple of decades to catch up, and [even then] it won’t, because the cost of living in the U.S. is increasing too. It’s a cycle, because if our cost increases [and] they are buying the same products from us, we pass those increases to them, and their cost of living is going to up as well, so that gap is always going to remain.”
Young’s impression is that it remains difficult to move beyond and outside any given caste. Some of his subjects, however, don’t see things as absolute.
“Some thought India had become a country where if you worked hard, you could be successful,” Young says.
Daughter of an astrophysicist, Nikku Guron is an interior designer from Chandigarh. She runs her own studio, is married, and has a daughter.
“For example, when we were kids it’s not like we had A/C in all the rooms. Now […] these kids are not used to it; they can’t even dream of a room without an A/C. When you become more comfortable, you just thank god […] I think we’re really privileged that god has been so kind, […] because we’ve seen those days and the way things have changed.”
It was often difficult to get access to his subjects because only a small number of well-off Indians wanted to discuss their growing wealth.
Sheel Chandra, together with his late twin brother, started the one of the biggest pashmina, wool, and carpet businesses in the country. He was born in Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and lives in South Delhi. He’s married and has four children. His brother, who married his wife’s twin sister, has three.
“The distribution of money is not good in India. Still, one third of the people in India live on one dollar a day, maybe more than one third. Some people have so much money that 5 percent of the people are the richest people in the world, 10 percent are very very rich, 20 percent are still very rich. We would be one of those 20 percent, I think.”
“Generally, people who’ve had affluence for generations are much quieter about their fortune,” he says. “The new wealthy are the ones who drive race cars and wear flashy clothes. The old wealthy are far more understated in the way they presented themselves.”
To get his foot in the door, Young teamed up with writer Annalisa Merelli, who had lived in New Delhi for years and was connected enough to snag a dinner invite to a moneyed friend of a friend’s house.
“They were so open, and after that evening they introduced us to other people who were similar,” says Young. “Most of my personal stories have worked like this, every person I meet, I ask them for two new people who may be right for the story. The snowball effect is usually very fruitful.”
Rajat Sodhi is an architect. Born in Delhi, he studied and worked for several architecture firms in the U.K. and Europe for 10 years before returning to India to start his own independent practice. He lives in South Delhi with his sister, an art curator.
“The service class who does work for the upper class, it’s only a matter of time till they realize how badly they are being exploited and how badly they are being economically manipulated. […] This is a structure that is somehow geared towards breaking down in one way or the other, that may be in the form of a social revolution or of something more violent, or it could be something that kind of gradually changes.”
Merelli conducted the interviews and wrote the text for The Seven Percent. Young also worked with photographer Michael de Pasquale who took pictures of empty dinner plates left behind by the people in the photos. Food scarcity can be an issue in parts of India, so the plates at meals of the affluent are telling. When Young’s portraits are shown, they’re hung as diptychs along side the food photos.
Since Young started the project, India’s economy has slowed down. The growth rate was 5.0 percent for the 2012–13 fiscal year, and the Indian government says it should have a growth rate of 6.1 percent to 6.7 percent for the year 2013-14. In July, India’s currency, the rupee, also fell to a record low.
A recent spat between two Indian-born Ivy League economists has hit recent headlines, and the debate revolves around whether government spending on social programs or extended freedom to private investment will bring about the quickest arrest in India’s economic slowdown.
Ganesh Singh-Jhabua, a member of the former royal family of Indore, is a businessman. He has two daughters, both of whom moved away from their hometown after marriage. He lives in a property just outside the center of Indore with his wife and their Great Dane.
“It was very difficult for a person with my background to compromise that old royal style which I’d learned when I was a kid […] to start something new, a business, [something] which my forefathers had never done. […] In my grandfather’s times a businessman was not [considered] a moral person – that’s what I’d learned all my life, and from there to get down and do the same thing [business] was difficult in the beginning. Then I started enjoying the work.”
Young says opinions about how to keep the country moving forward varied amongst the subjects he photographed. Only some thought committed investment in social programs was essential.
“Of the 15 people we interviewed, probably eight of them said that education for the poor would be the most important change needed to reduce the rate of poverty in India,” he says.