Feb 28, 2007

Vision Mumbai: Transforming Mumbai into a World Class City

These are the exhibits from the McKinsey study and recommendations to make Mumbai the world class city by 2013.

Many of these recommendations are now getting implemented.

Here is the executive summary of the plan.

I. Boost economic growth to 8-10 per cent per annum by focusing on services (high- and low end),developing hinterland-based manufacturing and making Mumbai a consumption centre.

II. Improve and expand mass and private transport infrastructure, including linkages to the hinterland.

III. Dramatically increase low-income housing availability (1.1 million low-income houses) and affordability and drive upgrading of housing stock.

IV. Upgrade safety, air pollution control, water, sanitation, education and health care.

V. Create a dedicated “Mumbai Infrastructure Fund” with an annual funding of Rs.1,500 crore and attract debt and private financing.

VI. Make governance more effective, efficient and responsive by corporatising key departments and streamlining important processes such as building approvals.

VII. Generate momentum through more than 20 quick wins to show visible on-the-ground impact during the next 1-2 years.

VIII. Enable implementation through committed public-private resources, led by the Chief Minister and make key government organisations accountable for results.

Feb 25, 2007

India Cricket Fever and Nike Promo

India is going through a cricket fever. World Cup 2007 is just round the corner and Nike -- the official sponsor of the team has a cool promo that captures this sentiment. The approach show that Nike respects the Indian way of enjoying the game of Cricket.


Feb 24, 2007

Mumbai Dabbawala

dabawalla mumbai food delivery

A dabbawala, (Hindi: dabba - (Lunch) Box, wala - an appelation for One who carries) sometimes spelled dabbawalla or dabbawallah, is a person in Mumbai (Bombay), India, whose job is carrying and delivering freshly made food from home in lunch boxes to office workers. Tiffin is an old-fashioned English word for a light lunch, and sometimes for the box it is carried in. Dabbawalas are sometimes called tiffin-wallas.Though the work sounds simple, it is actually a highly specialized trade that is over a century old and which has become integral to Mumbai's culture.

All Dabbawala's belong to the Warkari community. They still wear the same attire with a Gandhi Topi. (Hat)

The dabbawala originated when India was under British rule: many British people who came to the colony didn't like the local food, so a service was set up to bring lunch to these people in their workplace straight from their home. Nowadays, Indian businessmen are the main customers for the dabbawalas, and the service includes cooking as well as delivery.

At 19,373 persons per square kilometer, Mumbai is India's most densely populated city with a huge flow of traffic. Because of this, lengthy commutes to workplaces are common, with many workers traveling by train.

Instead of going home for lunch or paying for a meal in a café, many office workers have a cooked meal sent by a caterer who delivers it to them as well, essentially cooking and delivering the meal in lunch boxes and then having the lunch boxes collected and re-sent the next day. This is usually done for a monthly fee. The meal is cooked in the morning and sent in lunch boxes carried by dabbawalas, who have a complex association and hierarchy across the city.

A collecting dabbawala, usually on bicycle, collects dabbas from homes or, more often, from the dabba makers (who actually cook the food). The dabbas have some sort of distingushing mark on them, such as a color or symbol (most dabbawalas are illiterate).

The dabbawala then takes them to a designated sorting place, where he and other collecting dabbawalas sort (and sometimes bundle) the lunch boxes into groups. The grouped boxes are put in the coaches of trains, with markings to identify the destination of the box (usually there is a designated car for the boxes). The markings include the rail station to unload the boxes and the building address where the box has to be delivered. At each station, boxes are handed over to a local dabbawala, who delivers them. The empty boxes, after lunch, are again collected and sent back to the respective houses.

Economic analysis
Everyone who works within this system is treated as an equal. Regardless of a dabbawala's function, everyone gets paid about 2-4,000 rupees per month. More than 175,000-200,000 lunches get moved every day by an estimated 4,500-5,000 dabbawalas, all with an extremely small nominal fee and with utmost punctuality. According to a recent survey, there is only one mistake in every 6,000,000 deliveries. The American business magazine Forbes gave a Six Sigma performance rating for the precision of dabbawalas.

The BBC has produced a documentary on Dabbawalas, and Prince Charles, during his visit to India, visited them (he had to fit in with their schedule, since their timing was too precise to permit any flexibility). Owing to the tremendous publicity, some of the dabbawalas were invited to give guest lectures in top business schools of India, which is very unusual. Most remarkably, the success of the dabbawala trade has involved no modern technology. The main reason for their popularity could be the Indian people's aversion to fast food outlets and their love of home-made food.

Uninterrupted services
The service is uninterrupted even on the days of extreme weather, such as Mumbai's characteristic monsoons. The local dabbawalas at the receiving and the sending ends are known to the customers personally, so that there is no question of lack of trust. Also, they are well accustomed to the local areas they cater to, which allows them to access any destination with ease. Occasionally, people communicate between home and work by putting messages on chits inside the boxes. Of course, this was before the telecommunications revolution.

Today, you can get this Dabba meal delivered by using a SMS. Dabbawala's also have a tie up with Microsoft. They push the Microsoft product pamphlets and if they complete the sale, then the Dabbawala get Rs. 100, and the buyer gets a special discount on the laptop of desktop of their choice.

Mumbai's Slum Scandal

With the economic boom, Mumabi aspired to become and international megapolis. This can not happen with more than 50% of the population living in the slums and shanty towns. A plan to replace slums with towers has been in place and running for the past 16 years. The target of 1 Million units to be built has not been met. Only about 65,000 units have been built.

The scheme was a part of Shiv Sena and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) election manifesto that came into effect in 1996. It allows a builder to approach any slum colony and offer to redevelop it. The builder constructs free houses on part of the land for the slum's residence. The remaining area can be used to sell apartments at the market rate. The area under the free apartments defines the area that can be sold in the free market.

To go ahead with the plan, the builder must get an agreement by a certain percentage of the slum population. Builder must create a list of population eligible under this scheme. Builders have been accused of inflating the list so that they can build more units than actually needed.

Another example of a law of best intentions going wrong in Mumbai.

The scheme was not aligned with the interest of the city dwellers right from the start. Instead it was tilted to provide benefits to the builders. Dinesh Afzalpurkar a retired bureaucrat who headed the committee that devised the scheme wanted the efforts to be first concentrated on slums near arterial roads, water pipelines and storm water drains. The committed filled with politicians and builders shot this suggestion down.

Indian Budgets: State Planning to Market Reforms

Indian stock market is going through a pre-budget sell off. It might make sense to review what the budgeting process has looked like in the past.

After India's independence in 1947, the budget process has been through remarkable changes. In 1950s, the budgets were based on the priorities set by planning commissions which formulated five year plans. The idea of a five year plan was inspired by Soviet Union. This continued through Indira Gandhi's era.

Rajiv Gandhi introduced the concept of zero based budgeting in 1987 to curb wasteful expenditure. Zero based budgeting set all budgets to zero at the beginning of the fiscal financial period. The departments justify all their expenses and money is allocated based on the merit and not based on previous year's budget.

Manmohan Singh under prime minister P V Narasimha Rao was the initiator of radical economic reforms. In 1991, he devalued the Rupee and virtually abolished the industrial licensing raj. The budget also began a macroeconomic adjustment program under IMF supervision to cut fiscal deficit. The program had been started in response to the foreign exchange shortage and a balance of payments crisis.

In 1992-93 Rupee was made partially convertible in the current account covering merchandise goods and services. This meant that the value of the Rupee was determined by free market trading.

In 1994-95 Manmohan Singh added service tax on three services -- telephones, stock brokers, and non-life insurance.

Feb 22, 2007

Gandhi on Juhu Beach

Gandhi Juhu Beach
This is a really endearing picture of Gandhi walking on Juhu beach with his grandson. The picture was taken in Dec, 1937.

And here's Gandhi on Rs 1000 and Rs 500 bills being counted at Dalal Street -- Home of Bombay Stock Exchange. 2007.

Photo ID Election Cards

Indian Election Cards

Other than Ration card and Passports, the Election Photo ID cards serve as a way to prove person's identity in India. Here's an AD in the local newspaper inviting people of Mumbai to get the card as a cost of Rs. 25. The card will be created on the spot.

All of this will improve Indian democracy and the quality of country's government.

Love Birds at Mumbai public places

Mumbai is a packed metropolis. Most youngsters live their parents or if they are out of state people then grouped up in small apartments. Love matches taking place at colleges and work places result in people living far away from each others fall in love.

This means the lovers get together in movie theaters and on beaches. Here are some pictures of these love birds.

Encounter killings

Readers of Mumbai newspapers are very familiar with a stock news item which reads something like,

Two gang members were gunned down by police in . Based on the tip, police had set up a trap. Once the party arrived, the police announced themselves and asked the party to surrender. They refused, and opened fire on the police. The fire was returned resulting in killing of the two members of the gang.

That's encounter killing. As many as 600 gangsters have been killed in encounters over the past 25 years since 1982. This is a thought through approach not to go by the letter of the law. Going by the law would mean getting caught in a maze of procedures with no guarantee of a criminal being brought to book. The police, instead, started handing out the justice.
Gangs of Arun Gawli, Amar Naik, Subhash Thakur, Guru Satam, and Hemant Pujari were total eracated.

Here are some of the noted encounter specialists from Mumbai police force.

Praful Bhosale, has killed 82 gangsters
Hemant Desai, has killed 30 gangsters
Arun Borunde, has killed 50 gangsters
Daya Nayak, has killed 86 gangsters
Vijay Salaskar , has killed 78 gangsters
Ravindranath Angre, has killed 50 gangsters
Sachin Vaze, has killed 20 gangsters
Pradeep Sharma, has killed 107 gangsters

Gully Cricket

Cricket on Mumbai streets

Gully Cricket is very important in Mumbai. With world cup cricket fever in full swing, mumbaikars can see this scene all over. True February and March are the months of approaching final exams, but that does not dampen the enthusiasm of the kids and youngsters. Indian cricket stars -- Sunil Gavaskar, Sachin Tendulkar are all products of this gully cricket.

Feb 14, 2007

The West Island Freeway Project

The West Island Freeway is an ambitious project to connect the suburbs of Mumbai with downtown Mumbai. The project plans multiple flyovers over the Arabian Sea. The first phase of the project, known as the Bandra-Worli Sea Link, is currently in progress, and links Bandra in the north with Worli to the south with a cable stayed bridge spanning the Mahim Bay. This development will relieve the congestion on the Mahim Causeway, which up until now has been the only road connection between the suburbs and the main city of Mumbai on the western sea front. The toll charges is proposed to be fixed at Rs 38 for four wheel private vehicles and taxis.

Bandra Worli Sea Link Project has been one of the most highly recommended project of all the transport studies done for the metropolitan region during the last forty years. The existing north south western corridor is highly congested and during the peak hours results in a bottleneck at Mahim Causeway. It takes about forty minutes to travel from Mahim causeway to Worli, a distance of about 8 km. This phase of the project is expected to be completed by April 2008.

  1. Savings in vehicle operating cost to the tune of Rs.100 crores per annum due to reduction in congestion in the existing roads and lower vehicle operating cost on the bridge.

  2. Considerable savings in travel time due to increased speed and reduced delays at intersections at existing roads.

  3. Ease in driving with reduced mental tension and overall improvement in the quality of life. Improvement in environment especially in terms of reduction in carbon monoxide, oxides of nitrogen and reduction in noise pollution in areas of Mahim, Dadar, Prabhadevi and Worli.

  4. Project to have no adverse effect on fisheries, marine life and livelihood of fisherman.

  5. Reduced accidents.

  6. Proper landscaping measures along the approaches and promenade along waterfront to enhance environment of the area.

The next stage of the project consits building a freeway along the city's western sea board, and linking Worli with Nariman Point via Malabar Hill.

Mumbai Water Supply

Mumbai water supply comes from six lakes -- Tansa, Modak, Bhatsa, Vaitarna, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna, and Powai. This system is made up of reservoirs, storage, pipes and taps.

The water distribution system in Bombay is also about a 100-years-old. Water is brought in from the lakes after treatment, and stored in 23 service reservoirs. The two major sources, Tansa and Lower Vaitarna, are at a higher level than the city, not much power is required to pump the water.

The service reservoirs are mainly on hills located at Malabar Hill, Worli Hill, Raoli, Pali Hill, Malad, Powai and Bhandup. The timing of water supply to different parts of the city varies between two to five hours.

Maharshi Karve

If you step out of the Churchgate Station in Mumbai, you see Maharshi Karve Road. (google maps) This road runs all the way from Chowpati. Here's some information about the person.

Maharshi Dhondo Keshav Karve (April 18, 1858 - November 9, 1962) was a social reformer, who supported the education of women and organized associations to help Hindu widows get remarried. He was fondly called as Anna or Annasaheb.

Karve was married at the young age of 14, to Radhabai to an 8 year old girl, but his married life started when he reached the age of 20. Radhabhai died at very early age, in 1891, leaving behind a son. Looking at the plight of a widow's life in the society of those days, he thought of the idea of widow remarriage. In 1893, he married a 23 year old widow, Godubai Karve, who had been widowed at the age of eight and set an example in the conservative Maharashtrian society of those days.

He spent his entire life for the upliftment of women in India. He realized the value of education in the upliftment of women, and started a college for them. He initiated the creation of associations for widows to get remarried.

He started a women's shelter and a school for widows and other women in 1896.First widow to join him was his sister in law, Parvtibai Athavale. She got educated with his help and joined him as first lady superintendent of the institution, which was called as Hindu Widows' Home Association and later renamed to Hingane Stree Shikshan Samstha. It is now called as Maharshi Karve Stree Shikshan Samstha.

He was highly inspired by Japan Women's University in Tokyo, Japan. He firmly believed that education was the way for upliftment of women. In 1916, he established the first University for women in India, with five students at Hingane. An impressed industrialist and philanthropist from Mumbai, Sir Vithaldas Thackersey offered a donation and it was renamed to Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey Indian Women’s University or SNDT Women's University.

In 1931, the university established its first college in Mumbai and in 1936 it moved its headquarters to Mumbai itself. In 1949, the Government of India recognized SNDT University as a statutory university.

Khurshed Framji Nariman

Khurshed Framji Nariman, also known as Veer Nariman, was one of the second generation of Parsi stalwarts in the Indian National Congress. He came into the public eye in 1928 as an independent and courageous politician for his sensational process against the British engineer involved in the Bombay 'Backbay Reclamation' scandal. He exposed the scandalous financial arrangements in this scheme.

Nariman was later elected president of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee and then mayor of Bombay. His Whither congress? 'Spiritual idealism' or 'political realism' some random thoughts on the Poona conference and after, published in 1933, was unpopular among members of the party.

In 1930 he was influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and organised the civil disobedience movement in Bombay. However, following the elections of 1937 in the Bombay Presidency, he was passed over in the selection of the chief minister in favour of B. G. Kher. He complained of a communalist bias to the party high command, but no investigation was taken up by Jawaharlal Nehru. Gandhi responded to a separate appeal, but could find no proof for Nariman's complaints.

He was expelled from the Congress party due to his vociferous but unsubstantiated charges. His attempts to reestablish himself in the freedom movement through the All India Forward Bloc (founded in 1939 by Subhash Chandra Bose) failed.

Bombay's Nariman Point and Veer Nariman Road in front of the Churchgate station are named after him.

Panaromic View of South Mumbai

Click on the picture to see a bigger image. All the South Mumbai landmarks are clearly visible in this.

Feb 13, 2007

Valentine Day and Shiv Sena

Valentine's day arrived in India just a few years ago, but it has quickly gained popularity among urban population. There is a great deal of controversy.

In 2002, Shiv Sena issued warning against celebration of Valentine's Day. The party denounced the celebration as a symbol of the corruption of the West and its increased influence in their society. The group also attacked shops that endorsed the holiday.

In 2005, the Delhi unit of Shiv Sena termed Valentine's Day as "Prostitution Day" and held a protest march near Delhi University to oppose the celebrations.

Members of the group have stolen Valentine's Day greeting cards from a store and ceremonially burned them.

Feb 11, 2007

Lime-Chilli contraption to ward off an evil eye

Lime and Chilli to ward off evil eye

In Mumbai, the chilli, along with lime is used to ward off evil spirits and is often seen in vehicles and in homes to that effect. Though the new economy has dawned, superstitions continue to prevail and people stick to them because of fear or faith. Otherwise, how can one explain the brisk sale of green chillies and lemons, specially on Tuesdays and Saturdays. There is a belief among people, specially the shopkeepers, even the owners of ‘big showrooms,’ that hanging a string of green chillies and lemons wards off the evil eye. This is said to be an extension of the belief of ‘buri nazar’ prevailing among people in the country. They think that if they are doing well, others will feel jealous, so they hang lemons and chillies strung on a thread, to ‘immunise themselves’ from the evil eyes of others.


dharavi Slums

Historically, slums have grown in Bombay as a response to a growth of population far beyond the capacity of existing housing. Migrants are normally drawn to the city by the huge disparity between urban and rural income levels. Usually the residents of these densely populated enclaves live close to their place of work. The residential area itself does not provide employment.

Bombay knows another reason for the formation of slums. As the city grew, it took over land that was traditionally used for other purposes. The Koli fishermen were displaced during the development of the harbour and port. Those driven out of the fishing villages improvised living space that was often far shabbier than before. This process continues even now, at the end of the 20th century.

On the other hand, some villages were encysted by the city growing around them. Dharavi, originally a village with a small tanning industry, has become a slum in this fashion. Asia's largest slum, Dharavi, lies on prime property right in the middle of India's financial capital, Mumbai. It is home to more than a million people. Many are second-generation residents, whose parents moved in years ago.

Today's Dharavi bears no resemblance to the fishing village it once was. A city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts. In a city where house rents are among the highest in the world, Dharavi provides a cheap and affordable option to those who move to Mumbai to earn their living. Rents here can be as low as 185 rupees per month. As Dharavi is located between Mumbai's two main suburban rail lines, most people find it convenient for work.

Even in the smallest of rooms, there is usually a cooking gas stove and continuous electricity. Many residents have a small color television with a cable connection that ensures they can catch up with their favourite soaps. Some of them even have a video player.

Dharavi also has a large number of thriving small-scale industries that produce embroidered garments, export quality leather goods, pottery and plastic. Most of these products are made in tiny manufacturing units spread across the slum and are sold in domestic as well as international markets.

The annual turnover of business here is estimated to be more than $650m a year.

The state government has plans to redevelop Dharavi and transform it into a modern township, complete with proper housing and shopping complexes, hospitals and schools. It is estimated that the project will cost $2.1bn

Feb 9, 2007

Closed Cotton Mills free up Extra Real estate in Mumbai

Real estate prices in central Mumbai could rise because developers are expected to bid higher than market rates for national textiles corporation's proposed auction of four mills in Worli and Parel.

The sale will free up 40 acres of land to private developers in this land starved city.

Something else about how the builders price the apartments. The rate is quotes in terms of Rs/sq ft, but which area is used tells you what you get as a deal.

Carpet Area

The area of the premises measured from wall to wall. It is the actual usable area of the premises.

Built-up Area

The built-up area includes the carpet area plus areas occupied by the walls, enclosures, and niches on the premises. It is usually 15% more than the carpet area.

Super built-up area

A percentage of the common area of the society is added to the built-up area of individual units. Essentially, it means you pay for the swimming pool, the staircase and even small patch of greenery in the compound. Since the super built-up area figures nowhere on paper, the percentage varies from builder to builder -- from 30% to 60% or more.

Feb 8, 2007

Mithi River of Mumbai

Mithi River of Mumbai

2005 Monsoons and flooding brought attention to the Mithi river. Although the river flows through the most of the city, it is not at the center of any tourist or leisure activities. In fact, the river is a dumping ground of all the dirt, pollutants, and refuse in the city. Indian Government is intent on changing this.

Mithi river in Mumbai city, is a confluence of tail water discharges of Powai and Vihar lakes. Mithi river originates at Powai and meets Arabian sea at Mahim Creek flowing through residential and industrial complexes of Powai, Saki Naka, Kurla and Mahim over a distance of about 15 km. This river is treated like an open drain by the citizens who discharge raw sewage, industrial waste and garbage unchecked. Besides this, illegal activities of washing of oily drums, discharge of unauthorized hazardous waste are also carried out along the course of this river. The organic waste, sludge and garbage dumping has reduced carrying capacity of the Mithi river. The water with mixture of sewage and Industrial waste is a threat to marine life and the river is showing sign of total loss of such support system. Preliminary survey indicates that the pollution levels have reached an alarming stage.

Mahim bay area, where Mithi river meets Arabian sea, is a nominated bird sanctuary called “Salim Ali Bird Sanctuary” where migratory birds come for nesting. This part is full of mangroves and this fragile ecosystem requires considerations from pollution point of view, so that it is not destroyed.

Govt. of India intends to get an action plan for control of pollution in Mithi river and bring back the quality to its best uses.

Originating at Powai, Mithi river flows through Saki Naka, Safed Pool, around Santacruz airstrip, passing through thickly populated and industrial area like Jarimari, Bail Bazar, old airport road, Kalina (CST road), Vakola, Bandra Kurla complex, Dharavi and ends at Mahim creek. It serves as combined sewer for the area carrying sewage as well as storm water to sea. River bed is narrow in the initial stretch and is about 10 meters wide but at Bandra Kurla complex it is much wider.

The river passes through congested residential colonies including hutments, which let out raw sewage in the river and also throw garbage in it. Due to this reason, the river bed is full of sludge, garbage and vegetation growth like Hyacinth in many parts as can be seen from photographs enclosed for various locations. Cattle sheds in areas like Bail bazar, Jarimari, Andheri Kurla road etc. contribute animal waste.

Feb 7, 2007

IBM: 1 in 6 employees is in India

Now 53,000—one in six—of the corporation's employees will be based in India. The number has more than doubled in a two-year period. IBM has more than doubled the number of staff it employs in India over the past two years, to more than 50,000 workers.

This investment means that one in six of IBM's workers is now based in India. IBM employed 23,000 workers in India two years ago, and now employs 53,000, it said on Wednesday.
Several core IBM activities are now run exclusively in India. For example, all of IBM's software development for service-oriented architecture (SOA) is run out of Bangalore. Its investment in staff in the country follows a similar increase in sales to India-based firms: IBM's sales in India are up 37 percent year-on-year.

IBM's announcement follows the news on Monday that Accenture plans to employ more staff in India than in the U.S. William Green, chief executive of the global services company, revealed to reporters that he plans to recruit 8,000 more workers by August, taking Accenture's total Indian workforce to 35,000, or one-quarter of its global workforce.

Accenture boasts major offices in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Pune and Chennai.
India is a popular country for many IT services companies, as staff can be cheaper to employ while still offering key skills needed in today's knowledge economy.

Feb 6, 2007

Air India Boeing 787

787 Boeing Air India Airplane

India is one of the largest markets for air travel based on the projected growth. Here's a Boeing Ad in Mumbai newspaper. Flying in Mumbai means taking off in bird filled airspace. here's an interesting story about 787 "bird-hit" test.

Boeing acknowledged Friday that the horizontal tail section of the 787 Dreamliner had cracked slightly during a so-called "bird-strike" test, but described the incident as a routine part of developing the new jet.

The Dreamliner program is under intense scrutiny as Boeing prepares to build the first all-composite airliner, so every glitch — or potential glitch — makes analysts and investors skittish.

Spokeswoman Lori Gunter said the test was part of the development process and not a certification test, so the company's engineers strongly object to applying "the f-word," meaning failure.

"It wasn't a test you pass or fail. It was a test you learn from," she said.

In the November test, engineers fired an 8-pound gel pack — simulating a large bird — from a high-speed cannon, hitting the leading edge of the winglike section. The test helps assess what would happen to the tail section if the plane collided with a real bird in flight.

Mumbai Night Clubs

Aziano, Lower Parel
This yuppy club is located on High Street Phoenix. It is perennially packed with 20-somethings all grooving to hip-hop and film tunes.

Enigma, JW Marriott, Juhu
This chic and trendy nightspot is a hot favorite with the film frat. If you do manage to get in expect the music to range from retro to contemporary and the ever popular - Bollywood.

Hard Rock Cafe, Lower Parel
The first international entrant on the city's nightscape scene, here rock lovers can be seen swaying under its 40 feet high ceiling. It also has live performances every Thursday.

Velocity, Tardeo
Once the most happening and large club Mumbai has ever seen, today seems to have lost its glamor.

Polly Esther's, Colaba
Everyone from teenyboppers to 40-somethings frequent this late night haven. The '70s music repertoire includes from pop, rock, soul, slow rock, reggae, and disco.

Poison, Bandra
One of the best designed clubs in the city. Poison is a favorite of the film industry. Their themed music night, almost every day, makes it a spot for people to dance the night away.

Prive, Colaba
This one redefines the meaning of exclusive. It is open to the general public only on Wednesdays making it the place to be seen at on other nights. The place also has a private VIP lounge.

Red Light, Kala Ghoda
Always on the radar of party people, this night club is uber cool with its black, red, and mirrored decor. The music ranges from retro, house, hip-hop and lounge.

Squeeze, Khar
This quintessential urba-disc is housed off khar in a quiet bylane.It boasts a large dance space, a mezzanine floor and outdoor seating areas. With international acts every few weeks, it is fast becoming the party destination for Mumbai's club hoppers.

There is also a website Burrp! that posts reviews of all places in Mumbai.

Feb 4, 2007

Gandhi's letter to President Roosevelt

Mahatma Gandhi spent significant time in Mumbai. His impact of Mumbai is significant. Indian currency has a picture of Gandhi on bills, so in that sense he is ubiquitous. But more than that he is hidden in Indian psyche. Learning Gandhi is critical to knowing India.

Here's a letter Gandhi has written to then US President Roosevelt. It does make an interesting read.

Dear friend,

I twice missed coming to your great country. I have the privilege [of] having numerous friends there both known and unknown to me. Many of my countrymen have received and are still receiving higher education in America. I know too that several have taken shelter there. I have profited greatly by the writings of Thoreau and Emerson. I say this to tell you how much I am connected with your country. Of Great Britain I need say nothing beyond mentioning that in spite of my intense dislike of British rule, I have numerous personal friends in England whom I love as dearly as my own people. I had my legal education there. I have therefore nothing but good wishes for your country and Great Britain. You will therefore accept my word that my present proposal, that the British should unreservedly and without reference to the wishes of the people of India immediately withdraw their rule, is prompted by the friendliest intention.

I would like to turn into goodwill the ill will which, whatever may be said to the contrary, exists in India towards Great Britain and thus enable the millions of India to play their part in the present war. My personal position is clear. I hate all war. If, therefore, I could persuade my countrymen, they would make a most effective and decisive contribution in favour of an honourable peace. But I know that all of us have not a living faith in non-violence. Under foreign rule however we can make no effective contribution of any kind in this war, except as helots. The policy of the Indian National Congress, largely guided by me, has been one of non-embarrassment to Britain, consistently with the honourable working of the Congress, admittedly the largest political organisation of the longest standing in India.

The British policy as exposed by the Cripps mission and rejected by almost all parties has opened our eyes and has driven me to the proposal I have made. I hold that the full acceptance of my proposal and that alone can put the Allied cause on an unassailable basis. I venture to think that the Allied declaration that the Allies are fighting to make the world safe for freedom of the individual and for democracy sounds hollow so long as India and, for that matter, Africa are exploited by Great Britain and America has the Negro problem in her own home. But in order to avoid all complications, in my proposal I have confined myself only to India. If India becomes free, the rest must follow, if it does not happen simultaneously. In order to make my proposal foolproof I have suggested that, if the Allies think it necessary, they may keep their troops, at their own expense in India, not for keeping internal order but for preventing Japanese aggression and defending China.

So far as India is concerned, we must become free even as America and Great Britain are. The Allied troops will remain in India during the war under treaty with the free Indian Government that may be formed by the people of India without any outside interference, direct or indirect. It is on behalf of this proposal that I write this to enlist your active sympathy. I hope that it would commend itself to you. Mr. Louis Fischer is carrying this letter to you. If there is any obscurity in my letter, you have but to send me word and I shall try to clear it. I hope finally that you will not resent this letter as an intrusion but take it as an approach from a friend and well-wisher of the Allies.

I remain,

Yours sincerely, M.K. GANDHI

Chor Bazaar

Chor Bazaar literally means thieves market. It is situated near Bhendi Bazaar.

When Queen Victoria visited Bombay, a violin went missing from her luggage. It was found later at one of the stalls in Mutton Street which is today's Chor Bazaar. But that's how the area got its name. The shops here have been owned by nearly five generations of families.

What started as a place to trade stolen and second hand goods has now become a bargain place for antiques and old spare parts. Antiques and furniture used in the movie Mughal-e-Azam were hired from this place in the 1950s.

Feb 3, 2007

Mumbai Stock Market Crash of 2006

The 2006 market crash was witnessed on May 10 and which carried on till June 14. The May crash saw the Sensex shedding its market capitalization by as much as 14% in just one month. But if we keep aside that brief period of loss, investors's wealth seem to have grown double fold with the Sensex touching the 10000, 11000, 12000, 13000 and 14000 levels in the same calendar year.

Amul Butter has always published their interesting takes on the Indian contenporary affairs. This poster captures the moment.

IPO Frenzy in India

After a big initial public offering season last year, some 150 companies are expected to raise up to $10 billion in new listings in 2007.

Projections of double-digit economic growth, a roaring bull market, and expansion-minded executives has set the stage for another year of frenzied initial public offering activity in India. 2007 could be a record-buster.

One reason is the Bombay Stock Exchange benchmark Sensex Index, which delivered a nearly 50% return last year and is up about 2.4% so far in 2007. In all, some 150 companies will list this year and raise an estimated $10 billion. In 2007, more than 30 companies have already filed or received approval from the Securities and Exchange Board of India to raise $6.3 billion.

Last year's IPO activity, even with a market crash in the Sensex in late spring, was extremely robust despite worries by some that the Indian stock rally had run its course. Yet when stock prices resumed their march upward later in the year.

Even so, investing in India IPOs overall has been a risky affair. About 50% of the Class of 2006 initial offerings are today trading at break-even or below their listed price. One of the real disappointments last year was Jet Airways, India's biggest domestic airliner. It launched trading one year ago just as oil prices started their ascent to record levels by mid-year and budget carriers started to pressure margins. Jet's share price is off 30% to 763.95 rupees ($17.32) from its initial trading price back in February, 2005. No-frills carrier Air Deccan, which also debuted last year, has fared better and now trades at $3.40 per share vs. a listing price of $2.20.

This year's incoming group of aspiring companies is likely to be more broad-based and involve more established companies in real estate, banking, telecom, IT, media, and retail, as well as a few public-sector spin-offs such as Power Finance Corporation and Power Grid Corporation. "What's heartening is the fact that most of the sectors accessing the market have delivered profits in the past," says Narayan, managing director of Kotak Securities.

Part of the IPO bonanza will be driven by venture capital and private equity firms exiting from earlier start up investments. Some 15 such firms will be selling off equity stakes for cash, according to the trade group Venture Intelligence.

With India desperately struggling to rev up its infrastructure, from roads to power to ports, a host of real estate and infrastructure companies will enter the market. The largest IPO this year will probably be New Delhi-based real estate company DLF, which is benefiting from India's booming commercial and residential construction market. Last August, the company shelved an IPO to raise about $2.5 billion to pay debt and fund construction after minority investors complained. A smaller offering is expected this year in the $2 billion range.

Feb 2, 2007

Shiv Sena - BJP alliance gets another 5 year term to lead Mumbai

The Shiv Sena-BJP combine Friday was set for another five-year term in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and in several other cities, surging ahead of the Congress which suffered reverses in most of the elections to 10 civic bodies in Maharashtra.

The Sena-led combine -- which had suffered serious reverses in all the assembly by-elections in the past two years after the splits by Narayan Rane, who shifted allegiance to the Congress, and by Raj Thackeray -- surprisingly managed to get a bare majority on its own, bagging or securing unassailable leads in 112 of the 227 seats.

Firecrackers were burst and sweets distributed outside Matoshree, Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray's home in suburban Bandra, as news of the victory reached party supporters who had gathered there in large numbers.