Missed Opportunities & Future Potentialities
Endowed with a coastline of nearly 150 km, Mumbai oversees vital sea lanes of communication that connect Europe, Africa, the Persian Gulf, China, Japan, Southeast Asia and Australia –– through the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. However, despite this providential location at the cross-roads of crucial energy transit and trade routes, Mumbai has thus far not leveraged this geographic bounty to emerge as a pre-eminent maritime hub.
Poised to dominate the Indian Ocean region owing to its geopolitically-apt location, it would not be wishful thinking to envision Mumbai as a vibrant coastal and financial megapolis, analogous to the thriving trade hubs of Hong Kong and Singapore. Such a transformation would entail establishing a harbour economy –– equipped with state-of-the-art and secure docking facilities and bereft of backlogs and tardy practices. On track to be the fourth most populous city in the world by 2030, the city’s metamorphosis would inevitably have to encompass reclamation efforts –– despite their track record to court controversy. Further, Amsterdam’s post-Second World War development of supplementary clusters of suburbs in reclaimed areas serves as a classic example for giving much-needed and serious thought to a comprehensive overhaul of Mumbai’s geophysical characteristics. After all, the Mumbai of today is a result of the reclamation of the waters between the original seven islets.
Such a transformation of Mumbai would require serious deliberation over the development of commercial maritime infrastructure, but also about ensuring security of the same for unfettered maritime commerce.
In addition to seeking a Mumbai commensurate with its status as a global financial hub, a ‘Maritime Mumbai’ must also result in it becoming an exciting travel destination. Owing to Mumbai’s cosmopolitan ethos and its tryst with glamour –– as the nucleus of the Indian film industry, the city cradles the potential to outdo the most exhilarating of experiences associated with that of other coastal cities –– from Dubai to Singapore. Moreover, given Mumbaikars’ flair to play as hard as they work, the market potentialities of developing leisure avenues –– in the form of scenic piers, sea-front cafés and open-air exhibits –– are immense.
The realization of ‘Maritime Mumbai’ would involve a public-private partnership across the entertainment industry, food and beverages, and sports and recreational enterprises on the one hand, and public entities such as the proposed Mumbai Commission for Arts, Music and Culture; the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, the Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee, and other state/parastatal agencies on the other.
Against this backdrop, Observer Research Foundation presents Maritime Mumbai – Missed Opportunities & Future Potentialities. This one-day closed-door consultation gathering shall bring together a multi-stakeholder assemblage from private and public sectors. In doing so, the consultation would aim to not only deliberate on the lesson steering from how Mumbai missed out on its much-delayed metamorphosis, but also chalk out a path forward for Mumbai to now catalyse on its promise of change.
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