Friday, March 05, 2010

Mumbai Human Development Report 2009

Migrants are a sensitive political issue in Mumbai, with regional political parties, the Shiv Sena and the newly formed, the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena holding that Mumbai is for Maharashtrians. The debate is an old one, with several of the migrant population from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka and others being targeted for flooding the City at different points in time. Migrants have been held responsible, among others, for the local Maharashtrians losing out on jobs, in leading to burden on the civic infrastructure. These debates about Mumbaikaras and non-mumbaikars have often led to the question of who's city is Mumbai? It is exactly this question that has also been asked in the Mumbai Human Development Report 2009 (MHDR), released in October 2009 the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, Government of India. Done in collaboration with academicians, government officials, researchers and practicioners, the Mumbai Human Development Report also holds the distinction of the first ever report published by the Urban Local Body, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai.

In a context where urbanization is gaining ground as an important area of study and practice owing to the fast pace in which urban centres are evolving, the MHDR focuses on urbanization, the growth of Mumbai over the last few decades and in this context, accounts for the population trends, education, livelihood, health, the quality of life and slums in Mumbai.

It notes, that according to the 2001 Census, the percentage of the migrant population has decreased from 64 per cent about 40 years to 43%. The increase in population has been attributed to not only migration from within and without Mumbai but also to 'natural increase' – that is, 'a combination of fertility rates and the balance of births over deaths'. It further notes that a third of the migrant population is from within Maharashtra. Secondly, that the migrants in most cases live in the slums, the influx guided by two facts: the push factor which operates in the rural areas of other parts of the country sends them to Mumbai. The pull factor is the livelihoods possible in Mumbai. It makes a clear point that Mumbai is not a preferred destination for residence but only for livelihood opportunities. That is because most migrants at the lower end of the economic strata head for the slums. The slums, according to the 2001 Census, houses, on about 7-8 per cent of Mumbai's land, 54.1 per cent of the city's population in conditions that are hellish, worse than what they tried to escape from their villages. That accounts for close to 60 lakh people in slums, of at least one of two Mumbai residents striving to sustain themselves there. There is no other city with such comparable proportion of people in hovels. The Report goes on to describe Mumbai as 'migrant-friendly' for the opportunities of employment it provides and acknowledges that 'migrants have a share in its economic growth'.

The Mumbai Human Development Report 2009 is a mine of information on not only the recent trends in urbanization in India but also helps reflect on the the question of identity and citizenship in the context of Mumbai.

For the Report, refer

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