Last year India celebrated 70 years of its Independence. The country has come a long way from being a colonised nation to one of the fastest developing nations in the world.
In sharp contrast to Western European countries like Britain, Indian cities did not mushroom in the nineteenth-century colonial period. This has not affected the pace of urbanisation in India, and cities such as Mumbai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai, have quickly developed to become cosmopolitan.
Interestingly, as a result of Britain’s influence on India and some sheer coincidence, there are still many ties that connect one of India’s most renowned cities, Mumbai to UK’s capital, London. From the language spoken to the weather conditions, and even the kind of people that live in the cities, one can still see glimpses of London in Mumbai and vice versa. Here are 8 things that link Mumbai to London.
• Trading and financial centres
London and Mumbai are industrial cities. London is the centre of politics, administration, business and recreation since the 11th century. It became great during the Victorian Age when industrial revolution and the empire boosted its economy. The deregulation of the City’s financial services in 1986 made it one of the world’s great financial centres.
Mumbai has retained its leading role as the financial centre of India with the Reserve Bank and many other commercial banks, and financial institutions such as Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE), National Stock Exchange (NSE), Security & Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and many mutual funds being located in India. It could become one of the leading financial centres of the world if India can create the same legal framework that London has.
English is the main language for 92% – or 50 million – of the residents living in London. Seeing as India was once a colonised nation, a vast majority of Indians are proficient in English. In Mumbai, English is spoken by more than 50% of the population.
Indian curry is one of the top ‘take away’s’ available in London. The UK even celebrates National Curry Week in October every year. A poll of 2000 Brits found that Indian food was the second most common takeaway with 24% of the people’s votes. You can find restaurants in London serving Chicken Tikka Masala as easily as Britain’s famous Fish and Chips.
• International relations
India and England are part of the Commonwealth nations. This marks both countries’ commitment to democracy, including fair elections and representative legislatures. All members of Commonwealth Nations are free, independent countries that consider themselves as equal to one another.
• Migrants and a rich mix of population
Mumbai is the financial capital of India. It is a city where the rest of India comes to for jobs. Similarly, London is home to citizens from the rest of the European Union who come to the city to look for jobs and education. Both have dense population due to migration of workers in search of jobs in cities, towns. Another striking similarity is the public transport. Trains are the lifelines in both cities and commuters going to work use them daily.
London and Bollywood enjoy a very revered relationship. Bollywood fans in Mumbai have grown up watching London in all its glory, and Bollywood fans in London savour Hindi films because it evokes a sense of home calling for them and is a gateway into a colourful new culture. If you can’t spot your favourite Bollywood actors in Mumbai, you can see them at London’s Madame Tussauds.
The relationship of Mumbai’s dabbawalas and Britain’s royal family dates back to 2003, when Prince Charles had come on his maiden visit to Mumbai. He had then met the dabbawalas and had lauded their work acumen, accuracy and punctuality and was impressed with their work culture. The royal family had also sent an invite to the dabbawalas to attend the royal wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla Parker-Bowles in April 2005. Recently, the dabbawalas bought traditional garments as wedding presents for Prince Harry and his new bride, Meghan Markle.
Both cities are known for their unpredictable weather. Mumbai is notorious when it rains and the same can be said for London. When it rains, expect the roads in both cities to be dirty and muddy. The only difference being, it rains in Mumbai for an average of four months while in London, it can rain throughout the year. Again, both cities do not really have a severe winter, although London is known to be comparatively cooler.