Friday, April 14, 2006

Bombay, managing the next 8 years

In the excitment of India's new awakening, the fact that Indian cities are woefully underequipped to handle the pressures of growth, is being left out. Everday I meet people who are commuting 4 hrs a day to get to work and back, in conditions that guarantee a fast burnout. Everyday I hear from people about how they are facing chronic shortages of water in their apartments. And evey other day newpapers carry stories on how Bombay like the rest of India might soon face severe power cuts. On the flip side I don't see the political leaders taking any serious steps in addressing these issues. Yes, things are happening in pockets, like privatization of airports and a series of flyovers; missing are greater steps like building a metro rail system, overhauling the city administration processes, agumenting water supply, etc.

There are NO major projects that have gotten off the ground that can assit Bombay in water, power & commuting for the next 8 years! What is the city going to do in the meanwhile? How do businesses stay productive?

As the captain of my ship, inorder to survive the next 8 years and ensure that productivity does not take a majot hit, I am:

1. Stopping recruitment from areas beyond 8 KM. If my HR can't recruit from a catchment base of 5M people, it can take a hike!

2. Moving key officers into the 8 KM radius zone

3. Considering reloacting the office to a more central area so that more officers come into the 8 KM radius zone

4. Installing power backups in the office

5. Increasing office water storage capacity and arranging for water supply by tanker

6. Increasing the strength of the "property management" team

One ofcourse wonders what the politicians are upto. Instead of taking up non issues like shuting down dance bars and acting as moral police (when scoiety needs none), they need to become better leaders ensuring that Bombay and other Indian cities keep climbing up the livability charts instead of going in the opposite direction. But I'm not optimistic that they can see this. After all, most politicians hail from rural areas and their exposure to city and world living is weak. They also do not seem competent enough to focus on the greater picture of livability (as compared to money). So the going will be rough.

The bail out will come from the huge private cities coming up in the SEZs by companies like Reliance. These privately administered cities promise to be infrastructure complete and well run. The 1st one is expected to start by 2009, reaching maturity by 2015, providing relief to much harried Bombayite.

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