Mumbai Charcha, a series of conversations, with prominent citizens is a joint initiative between Mumbai First and Blue Ribbon Movement, as a run-up to the BMC elections, looking at leaders from every segment of society.
While Mumbai First is an advocacy initiative looking to make Mumbai a better place to work, live, and invest, the Blue Ribbon Movement, on the other hand, works with young people empowering them to become leaders.
With the conversation’s first session being conducted on Republic Day, it had in its midst an eminent speaker, Sanjay Ubale who is the Executive Board Member of Mumbai First, an Ex IAS, Ex-Director Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ex MD Tata Realty & Infrastructure.
Born in the island city, Ubale was the secretary for Mumbai development and was introduced to the city’s history by an activist who helped him inspire and connect with the city’s force. Whilst he initially worked on the civic services, the transition to the market-based economy propelled him to explore society from the flip side.
On being asked about the claim that Mumbaikars pay a considerable share of taxes and thus have a sense of resentment, he said, “Mumbai’s population is 2 per cent of the state population and contributes to 21 per cent state GDP. The city is an economic entity.”
He believes this is the case considering the city’s transition from being a port to an island with rail lines which were used to transport cotton that resulted in the textiles mills to come up. This he claims led to employment in mills, shipbuilding, trade and commerce.
Ubale remarked, “Mumbai’s growth has been a result of its financial success. Its first dharma is to create wealth.” He thinks that the taxes should be invested in urban transport projects, infrastructure development to ensure that the city remains efficient.
He further elaborated, “A Mumbaikar’s dharma is to have an active role in the city’s management, guide and engage with the government.”
Additionally, he mentioned that the culture of Mumbai allows one to be themselves, inculcates discipline, but is however losing civic conciseness. Apart from this, the culture of inclusion allows one to be something, its grace and humility during times of crisis is notable.
While being asked about the upcoming BMC elections and the role citizens, society, government, and corporates play, he elucidated, “Corporates should take responsibility, contribute to city improvement, use CSR funds for city beautification. Citizens should vote, engage on platforms and get the attention of players.”
The next session is anticipated to be conducted on Thursday, February 10.