The Mumbai Charter
As Mumbai looks forward into the crystal ball for 2013; The GUIDE team created a five-point plan that covers different aspects that affect the city, and the course of action that we, as citizens can follow, to make it a better, healthier and happier place that we call our own
Though Mumbai witnessed a large number of cultural festivals in 2012 including the Ruhaniyat, Kala Ghoda Festival, the Indo-German Urban Mela, Celebrate Bandra and many more including two literary festivals, the metropolis could still do with a lot more. Compare our itinerary with the cultural programmes, in other cities like Pune and Bangalore, and we still fall short. In terms of encouraging theatre, music and dance, many other cities still seem to score higher. “We could do with at least 30 to 40% more such events, which highlights the rich culture we have,” says Mahesh Babu, Managing Director of Banyan Tree Events. “Though, nowadays, we see a rising number of performances by music bands, when it comes to World music, Folk and Classical, Mumbai needs a lot more to cater to the large population that is interested in our culture and music,”
Brinda Miller — Festival Curator of the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival, maintains that we can utilise open spaces in a better way. “It’s time that we start doing this. First and foremost, we should display a lot of public art and with that I don’t mean only statues of leaders. Government should provide artistic sculptures, interestingly-made street benches and murals. Public art needs to be encouraged. Besides, the garden division of the BMC should take better care of Mumbai’s gardens,” she asserts. Work is done on the gardens when they are created but then no maintenance takes place, which is the most important thing. She adds that it is sad to learn that Mumbai is a city that has no water fountains. “Authorities feel that if a water fountain is erected, it will be misused, people will use it as a bathing space, taxi drivers will wash their cars there. But why will that happen? We have a city that has tremendous amount of water, so we should not think like that,” Miller feels.
A common visual in English movies or TV shows depicts a non-Indian’s visit to the country, where he deals with an upset tummy after a spicy roadside snack feast. But it’s not just these who suffer from unhygienic eating-places; even Mumbaikars face it. “The city can serve as a great food destination with its mixed bag of migrant cultures and their cuisines but very few promise good health along with a good bite,” feels food writer and stylist, Michael Swamy.
Environmentalist Hari Chakyar of Project 35 Trees uses the example of the Maharashtra Nature Park — a one-time dump that helped maximise the city’s green quotient. “The NGO EcoFolks conducts environment orientation courses about the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP); teams work to protect mangrove forests in Dahisar and Mira Road. Participation from Mumbaikars is crucial; they need to conserve what is left of the greenery,” he says.