Mumbai is not any more a city where misery and poverty are the main ‘attractions’, the city that bewilders, fascinates and at the sane time, repels the average western tourist for the intensity of its noises, smells and colors. Mumbai is on the same track as any other western city and is running fast. It is the commercial and entertainment centre of India and one of the world’s top ten centres of commerce by global financial flow. It is a city that is growing financially constantly and reaching a higher position in the global market having on its side its people. It is contributing 10% of factory employment, 40% of income tax collections, 60% of custom duty collections, 40% of foreign trade and rupees 40,000 crore (US $10 billion) in corporate taxes to the Indian economy.
Mumbai is also, and foremost, education, a network of universities and campuses where Indians are educated by Indians in many cases beyond the standards of top American institutions. For example, the IIT (International Institute of Technology) a large campus at the outskirts of Mumbai contributes significantly to the advancement of computer science and technology in India in many ways. It produces world class engineers, scientists and a large number of its graduates are achieving success as managers, consultants, researchers and entrepreneurs in India and abroad.
The rapid evolution of this 13 million people city is not only an economical or an educational one ; new public spaces have been build, multiplex cinemas and shopping malls, strips of jewelry stores, cafes and restaurants. Slums are constantly being demolished to leave room for new hotels, luxury flats and offices of multi national companies to arise. Luxury is popping out as little diamonds spread across this immense city. You can bump into a gym within an office space for its employees or into a crazy design hotel, hidden in the poor and narrow streets of the city. Some of these changes are visible and some still secluded, but the transition is fast.
Still, what strikes the most is Mumbai’s daily life. Indians enjoy Mumbai as Americans enjoy New York and probably more than Italians can enjoy Milan. Parks like Malabar hill, squares like the one of the public library and many other corners are places that anybody can access and enjoy, at any time of the day. One example for all ;
everyday, around dusk, thousands of citizens gather and meet to finish their day at Chopati beach. A popular beach located on the coast of Mumbai and not far from the Oberoi Hotel. Chopati beach is a place filled with families, young couples, crazy hand-made fortunetellers with florescent colors, amusement parks and eating joints which serve all kind of Indian delights. A magical place stripped of casts and social statuses.
As Indians love entertainment, the entertainment industry is one other major employer in Mumbai. Most of India’s television and satellite networks are located in Mumbai, as well as the major publishing houses. A large number of the Hindi and English television shows are produced in Mumbai. The Hindi movie industry, known as Bollywood, is also located in Mumbai, along with the largest studios and production houses.
The Bollywood industry produces 1,000 films per year and serves an audience of one billion. These movies often revolve around a marriage between a Muslim and a Hindu. The story, inevitably (and wisely), happily ends, Bollywood-style.
Last week firearm attacks and bombings killed 179 in the heart of the city. This story is a real one and it is the major challenge that Mumbai has to face.