Sunday, February 17, 2008

Migrants to Mumbai

Where do they come from?

A new study which I have just gone through says that most of the new migrants are from Uttar Pradesh. A surprising figure is that of Bihar which is just 20 % of those from U.P. This is surprising since Biharis have been subjected to as much bashing as those from U.P. for migrating to Mumbai. Of course, the study confirms that most of the migrants to Mumbai are from North India. This is understandable since the North ( with the exception of Delhi, Punjab and Haryana) is the poorest in terms of all the economic indicators. Even the East is doing better while the West and the South are much better off , with their flourishing economies and more job creation.

Southerners' change of interest

In spite of the economy in the South doing very well, there are still people from South India who are leaving their states in search of better prospects. But Mumbai has ceased to attract them. Nor Delhi. They head towards Malaysia, Singapore, the U.K. and the U.S.A. They have the necessary education and skills to find good jobs in those countries. The northerners are currently doing what their southern fellow-Indians did three to four decades ago. Namely migrating to Mumbai to find employment. And of course become pawns in the political game of the sons of the soil.

Mumbai is not just Maharashtrian

If Mumbai generates so many jobs to cater to the local population and still accommodate outsiders, the credit does not go to the Maharashtra Government or Maharashtrians. Millions of migrants over the decades have created wealth for Mumbai. Besides, the Central Government has been very liberal towards developing Mumbai as the financial capital of the country. The Reserve Bank of India has its Head Office in Mumbai. So are so many other banks and insurance companies. Several entrepreneurs from all over the country have set up their Head Offices in Mumbai. Several Mutinational Companies have their Indian operations monitored through Central Offices in Mumbai. Naturally, these companies are listed as Mumbai-based companies and their gigantic turnover figures are considered to be arising from Mumbai. But this is absolutely a wrong conclusion. These companies have factories and sales offices throughout the country and every such establishment has contributed to the turnover fogures and profitability. Therefore, Mumbai's wealth is on account of the entire country.

Decentralisation the Solution?

In advanced economies such as U.S.A. or Germany, they do not focus on only one city and starve the rest of the cities. For example, in Germany it is not only Frankfurt which is well-developed. Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Koeln, Stuttgart etc. are also well-developed. So, it is necessary that our own Central Government should adopt policies to divert part of the investment to other cities and towns. Mumbai need not be the only beneficiary . Of course, private entrepreneurs will go wherever infrastructure is good. That is why a lot of recent investment has been in Chennai. Bangalore and Hyderabad etc., besides Mumbai. U.P. and Bihar are paying the price for having inefficient administrators and their lack of interest in developing infrastructure. But the Govt. of India could have a few of its important institutions in other cities as well. Today,R.B.I, National Stock Exchange, Western Railway, Central Railway and so many other important organisations have their Head Quarters in Mumbai. This must change without causing disruption to productivity and sound economics. Till then, Dadar-bound Varanasi Express will keep bringing thousands of Hindi-speaking people to crowd Mumbai more and more. They will watch Bhojpuri films and become an eye-sore to the Raj Thackerays of the political world.The fault does not lie with the migrants.

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