Mumbai is suffering. With elections around the corner, she’s not in great shape. (Yes, she’s a ‘she’, although Delhi’s a ‘he’ and Bengaluru’s undecided). For many years, and by many years, I mean at least three years, between 1982-1985, Mumbai was voted No. 1 city of India. Although the voters consisted only of Mumbaikars, it was a pretty fair assertion.
In fact, in 1985, a survey conducted pointed out that Mumbai was the best city, Patna was the best emerging city, and Pune was a city pretending to be one which one day would be a city. The survey had to be trusted as it was done by the Chinese.
Sadly, on the cusp of Maharashtra’s big election, (okay, two big elections as Big Boss has begun), Mumbai is like the proverbial fallen angel. But, as my friend, Mandrekar says, everyone can criticise, but none come up with solutions. Again he said this in Marathi, so I can’t be 100% certain that’s what he said. Either way I've decided to form a research team, to research and strategize, and to come up with ways to save our city. My team consists of myself & myself, (I count myself twice, as I contribute more than others), my son Mikhaail, my daughter Maya, and my doggies, Peter and Mary. After 7 long meetings, five of which were attended only by me, we’ve come up with a few points and a blueprint to take Mumbai back to her former glory.
POINT 1–Population: Some say we are 22 million, some say 23 million. But, if you count all the people living in the open metro work, potholes and crevices, then it's definitely 41 million. It's too much. We need to remove 20%, as we are bursting at the seems. Instead of making lists like in Assam, which is quite horrific, we could remove one whole chunk of the demographic without getting personal. “And what would this chunk be, that’s roughly 20% of Mumbai?” you ask me? The answer is simple. Left handers, 1 out of 5 people are left-handed. It's not a group bound by religion, caste, or region. With one swoop we could ask all left-handers to leave, nobody would feel bad, and population drastically reduced. Also please note, we are a right-hand drive society. Left handers who feel awkward driving will be removed, and the roads will thank us for it.
POINT 2 –Unfortunately, nobody recorded point 2. Possibly because nobody attended that particular meeting. So let’s move to point 3.
POINT 3–Infrastructure: Roads, bridges, subways, metro-links, potholes, garbage, people who stare too long…all this can be managed professionally. The answer doesn’t lie with us. We’ve been handling Mumbai’s infrastructure for 72 years. We have failed. The option is obvious. Outsource. We must outsource infrastructure to an efficient country. Sweden, Israel, Germany, and Japan come to mind. And if we want it done cheaper with smaller roads and bridges then China is the one to lean on.
POINT 4–Point 4 remained unrecorded, as only I attended that particular meeting, and I just could not find a pen. So, it's time to head to point number 5.
POINT 5–Corruption: Mumbai now presently ranks highest in corruption. Okay, 3 days a week Delhi does rank higher, but that’s because of Delhi’s unique odd/even scheme. Corruption in Mumbai has grown post 2015/16 in leaps and bounds. Some blame demonetisation. If Mumbai goes back to a cash era (where all corruption rates were fixed) corruption will be lowered to a more controllable area. Basically, the system was working but demonetisation disrupted it.
POINT 6–Taxation: Nirmala Sitharaman nearly destroyed Mumbai’s business community. The community that is supposed to have built Mumbai. Okay, at least that’s what all the statues say. Her tax policies were closing on Morarji Desai’s World Record from the 70s. Even though she’s recently relaxed the tax, a lot of the business community have already migrated to the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Worse still, some have migrated to Bengaluru. If we want Mumbai to be buzzing, we need the businessmen to stay and do business. In the old days, their business was none of the govt’s business, and everybody got along just fine. Taxation has to be more aligned to this once dynamic, now anxiety-ridden group.
POINT 7–Point 7 was never made. So, please join me in looking over to point 8, which to my knowledge was the last point, after which my children fell asleep and my dogs left in haste.
POINT 8–Mumbai is a stressed out population. We need to destress the citizens. This can be done, by following the PM’s own example. 4 letters, YOGA. Yes, Yoga. Yoga for all. In fact, this would be best achieved by keeping one day of the week fixed only for yoga. Monday would be best. Studies have shown most Mumbaikars are in a bad mood on a Monday.
These are our working committee’s little suggestions, to reclaim Mumbai’s Pride and Peace. And please remember, we don’t want to create a new version of Mumbai. This was tried before, and to no avail. Navi Mumbai, is still a work in progress. I do hope the Govt accepts our humble committee’s tiny suggestion. Jai Maharashtra and Mumbai.
(The writer is an aspiring, soon to be Member of Parliament. Apparently they take anybody now-a-days.)
The writer is a comedian, TV anchor, theatre personality, satirist, podcaster and an author.