The decision to make Mumbai go 24×7 is only a ratification of the fact that the city never slept. We see it as a precursor to other metro towns going the same way, perhaps to begin with, in selected zones around the cities.
We welcome the new Maha Government’s decision to make Mumbai city go 24×7. It’s not a day too soon, that the city government, regardless of the party in power, has gone ahead and taken this most logical step. It’s taking the city forward, to say the least.
That Mumbai Never Slept is an old understanding of the city. It’s NOT about 5-star hotels, dance floors, nightlife as is usually understood, which invariably has a negative connotation, as something sleezy and corrupt and immoral. These are cliches and this decision must go beyond clichés. It’s not about malls, shopping and bars. These would have their own economies of scale and viability. Let them find their own levels. It is more about giving the license to operate 24×7, saying the provision exists, and we do know that there would be new opportunities opening up for the city.
A drive from one remote part of the city to the other, late into the night, is a testimony to common citizens going home, or running from one errand to another. In more recent times, our big cities, and not just Mumbai, have seen the rise of the new economy that has working shifts and people are keeping late hours. In between, they set out for a cup of coffee or a snack, and why not give them that little extra incentive to say, the city is with them. It’s not about bars and night clubs!
It’s not meant to create a new law and order situation, and it’s equally not a given that this decision would give rise to rapes. This economy of night shifters, hanging out of commercial offices, and commuting already exists and around them consolidating it, and giving a new dimension to the city economy. It would certainly provide more jobs.
Naturally, built around local needs and local economy, the visitor will get additional opportunities to enjoy the city, creating yet another window for more jobs and recreation. It’s a healthy way forward.
There would be challenges, naturally, as any other forward-looking decision is bound to meet. But there are solutions like bringing back of the city mounted police, for example. The state is already meant to police the city 24×7, and therefore why this panic? On the contrary, it could become a new instrument to maintaining a 24×7 vigil across the happening areas.
And, finally, many of our cities have this night shift element, especially where there are call centres, and IT outsourcing happening. In Chennai, Bengaluru and in Gurugram, for instance. Hopefully, these cities will follow suit. Here’s wishing the Maha Government every success in this new decision!