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A world class city needs a world class mindset

We have to remember that the Gateway of India is not the gateway to the country or the city anymore, writes Sanjay Manjrekar.

india Updated: Jan 11, 2007 23:53 IST
Sanjay Manjrekar
Sanjay Manjrekar

It’s time Mumbai starts looking like a world-class city that it is in many ways. We have to remember that the Gateway of India is not the gateway to the country or the city anymore.

It is the Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus at Sahar and Santacruz. And this is the first thing I would want to change.

When people land in Mumbai they are shocked at the airport’s condition. I will not make unfair comparisons with cities like New York or London. But even Colombo, Lahore and Karachi have far superior airports than Mumbai. The international terminal is an embarrassment to the city.

Second, there has to be a change in our administration’s mindset. We have to want to show off our city. In Colombo and Lahore, there is an effort to impress visitors. We too have to flaunt this city like you flaunt your house. That said, I do think there is a genuine effort now to make Mumbai look more presentable, but we still have a long way to go.

Mumbai is an attractive city so a lot of people stream in every day. But more than the crowds, indiscipline and lack of consideration for others stresses you out.

The other day, I went to a supermarket with my wife. When I saw a long queue of cars waiting for parking space, I was put off and wanted to leave. But my wife said, “Give it five minutes” and sure enough in five minutes we were inside.

If we are disciplined and have patience, things can be manageable. I must say we are very poor when it comes to social obligations and etiquette. There is a need to drill the importance of civic sense and discipline in our minds. The administration should launch an awareness drive through short, entertaining ad films on hygiene, civic sense and traffic sense.

Our police should also be ready to spring a few surprises on people instead of catching them only for routine violations. For instance, when have you seen a policeman catch someone spitting although you see people spitting everywhere around you? Or fine cars that stop on the Zebra crossing making it so difficult for pedestrians to cross? That’s being inconsiderate.

I also wish public servants could improve their language and be more courteous and polite to the tax-paying public. They have to be reminded that the salary they receive every month is paid by the man they are talking to.

When we are world class in so many ways. Why not in social courtesies? I would also like to see the underground metro take off. Flyovers haven’t solved the traffic problem, have they?

Our city has a positive side too. Our service industry is one of the best in the world. Also, I think we are doing a great job of maintaining greenery in the concrete jungle.

But I also feel we should stop talking about this great spirit of Mumbaiites that helps them take everything in their stride. I would rather see us be more demanding. If you are a tax-paying Mumbaiite demand more, it’s your right. You deserve it.

A former cricketer and cricket commentator

As told to Sweta Ramanujan-Dixit

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