The Indian Economy Blog

November 19, 2005

Cities And Their Oxygen

Filed under: Miscellaneous — Amit Varma @ 3:05 pm

Celebrity isn’t wisdom. And yet, newspapers run after celebs and get them to pontificate grandly on all kinds of subjects. Check out this piece in DNA in which Raveena Tandon expresses the view that Mumbai should have a cap to its population, and it should not “accept or absorb” any more people after that limit is reached.

I suggest Ms Tandon do some thinking on why Mumbai is such a thriving city. Urbanisation fuels economic growth — Metcalfe’s Law goes some way in explaining why — and all great cities have been built on the sweat of migrants. Mumbai has many problems, but keeping people out, if such a thing is even logistically possible, will exacerbate and not solve them. Migration is the oxygen of cities — let them breathe freely.


  1. While its true that Mumbai is choking under a huge population burden, stopping migration would only hasten mumbai’s exit as India’s economic power.The best solution is to upgrade infrastructure in tier 2, tier 3 cities and offer solutions like micro-credit at rural areas to check migration to metros.

    Comment by cogito — November 19, 2005 @ 3:21 pm

  2. Dumb celebrities n dumber thoughts.No comments

    BTW its Mrs. Tandon Thadani and not Ms. Tandon :D

    Comment by Rahul M — November 19, 2005 @ 3:27 pm

  3. Back in those days there were jesters who were hired to amuse the king’s court. Nobody took heed to any of what the jesters had to say about anything.

    Sometimes I wish for those days. :)

    Comment by Vijay — November 19, 2005 @ 10:49 pm

  4. How does free market economics explain such high salaries — in some cases, underserved, for their only qualification seems to be brother/son/daughter of someone — of the celebrities? If the producers start with a decent story (pay writers more) and a good director, they should make successful films with lesser known actors. No?

    Comment by Niket — November 20, 2005 @ 12:04 am

  5. Cameree ke samne gand hilane wale bhandoon ka dimag 7ven asman par chardh jata hai.

    Comment by Guru Gulab Khatri — November 20, 2005 @ 4:27 am

  6. Er, Niket, slightly off-topic thought it is, my response to your question: producers are free to make films with whoever they want and we are free to reject them. Simple. They aren’t using tax-payers’ money, so we can’t question the salaries they pay out.

    And, of course, there are other considerations involved. You think any director would make a film starring Uday Chopra if his dad and brother weren’t owners of the production house involved? It may be nepotism, but it’s a risk the production house has the prerogative to take, and it can backfire badly on them. After all, we are free to ignore their films and watch other movies.

    Comment by Amit Varma — November 20, 2005 @ 11:41 am

  7. One Raveena Tandon is too many in Mumbai. Maybe, we need to reduce the population of idiots like her in the Mumbai.

    Comment by Ashish Hanwadikar — November 20, 2005 @ 9:30 pm

  8. You think people read you only because you speak sense? Thank your stars we worship celebrities. And don’t waste your time poitning people to intellgient links like the ones you have showcased here. Thank you.

    Comment by avinash — November 21, 2005 @ 3:42 am

  9. Truly amazing the hypocrisy of all these people who complain about “outsiders” taking up space in “their” city.

    Why is it none of these people never seek to stop “their own city-mates” from going to other places and taking jobs. I mean, if you are supposed to work only where you are born, then you should apply the principle to everyone, right ? Not just people coming on, but also to people going out ?

    Why, even her selfsame Raveena has ventured down South to do many regional language films. Didn’t it occur to her that she was venturing into “outside” territory and stealing others’ jobs ?

    It is not just the case with all those in Mumbai who say this. This is all over India, why all over the world. The people in Karnataka who ask for job reservation for Kannadigas in the IT industry, on the grounds that too many “outsiders” are taking away the wealth from the natives fall into the category. Doesn’t occur to them that Kannadigas too travel outside and work.

    What will it take to make wisdom dawn on them ? Maybe make them all watch 48 hours of non-stop Raveena movies ? What are the chances that they will go mad, as opposed to being cured ?

    Comment by Theesra — November 21, 2005 @ 11:43 am

  10. Second the thoughts of whoever said there is no point in you posting stupid links like this one. However, reading the comments, I don’t think people realize how much of a difference the migrants make to Mumbai. 60% (that’s right) of Mumbai’s population lives in the slums. Now, these people are not hanging around doing nothing. And they’re all migrants. The city will collapse if migration is capped. The argument is similar (though not the same) to the migrant issue in London, for instance. Not for a moment can one visualize London working without the Eastern Europeans, the Indians and the Arabs. So too with Mumbai. Construction workers, domestic help, food stall owners, peons, clerks, etc etc – a host of jobs vital to Mumbai’s economy are performed by migrants. Ms Tandon obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about; but the thought process is not limited to her. It’s persistant in Mumbai (manifested in the Shiv Sena’s earliest avtaar), and it’s this thought process that needs to be corrected.

    Comment by Aniruddh Gupta — November 21, 2005 @ 2:22 pm

  11. Anirudh, the idea of this post was not to put up that link, but to express the thought. And by expanding so well on that thought in your comment, you’ve demonstrated — and enhanced — the value of the post. Thank you.

    Comment by Amit Varma — November 21, 2005 @ 2:28 pm

  12. Amit: The flawed logic used to keep people out of metro cities is also used to justify “population control” in India and elsewhere. People coming into Mumbai (and into this world) bring talent and endeavour. Given libery (and absent insane regulations and corrupt laws), they are assets.

    Comment by Vivek g — November 21, 2005 @ 7:44 pm

  13. totally agree with you.migration is what makes cities tick.

    migration lets the city’s economy flourish by letting different sets of people do what they’re best at.hence ,in mumbai, gujrathis will take up trading and investments, sindhis and marwaris will do business,and maharashtrians will mostly comprise the service class(of course there will be exceptions to this rule)

    it is also the cosmopolitan glue that holds cities together .also ,migration is what will take the country forward, by allowing the seamless merging of whatever north-south ,east-west divide dat exists.migration and the consequent sharing of living/working space with people from other parts of the country will only broaden minds and breed more regional sensitivity.

    but if migration is the way to go, everyone has to fall in line.but that hardly happens. hence,we have a mumbai or a bangalore , but u also have a chennai.

    Comment by Rohit Pradhan — November 22, 2005 @ 7:29 am

  14. lol that was almost as good as Paris Hilton claiming she was as influential as Mother Theressa and Princess Diana. Sometimes I feel like telling ‘some’ of the celebs out there that the only reason they are famous was because they have talent in only ONE area. And they should stick to that ‘area’.

    Comment by Nigel — October 31, 2006 @ 9:24 am

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