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Definition: Mumbai from The Macquarie Dictionary

a port in western India, on the Arabian Sea; the capital of Maharashtra state and the largest city in India.

Formerly (until 1996) Bombay

Mumbaiker /mym'ba1k7/, /moom'buykuh/ noun adjective

Summary Article: Mumbai
From The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Indian city, industrial port, and commercial centre; population (2001 est) 11,914,400; metropolitan area (2001 est) 16,368,100. Previously known as Bombay, the city was once the capital of Bombay Presidency and Bombay State and in 1960 became the capital of Maharashtra, a newly created state. By a decision of the Maharashtra government implemented in 1995, the city was renamed Mumbai. Long-established industries include textiles (especially cotton), engineering, pharmaceuticals, and diamonds. The city is the centre of the Hindi film industry, and the newer industries also include chemicals, motor vehicles, electronics, and papermaking.

Features World Trade Centre (1975); National Centre for the Performing Arts (1969). The port handles half of India's foreign trade. Its factories generate 30% of India's GDP.

History The site was originally seven islands occupied by Koli fishermen, but silting and land reclamation have created a narrow isthmus on which Mumbai now stands. The city was founded in the 13th century, came under Mogul rule, was occupied by Portugal in 1530, and passed to Britain in 1662 as part of Catherine of Braganza's dowry. It was the headquarters of the East India Company from 1685 to 1708. The city expanded rapidly with the development of the cotton trade and the railway in the 1860s. In 1995 the city was renamed Mumbai after the goddess Mumba, the name in the local Marathi language for Parvati, the wife of the Hindu god Shiva.

Commercial expansion With the ending of the East India Company's monopoly, Mumbai flourished as a centre for international trade, exporting raw cotton. Shipbuilding was also important until the early 19th century. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1870 allowed further expansion, and the building of the railways across the Western Ghats to link Mumbai with the Deccan plateau made it the hub of regional and international trade. It also made possible large-scale famine relief for the catastrophic Maharashta famine of the 1870s. Extreme gradients and difficult conditions meant that one-third of the workers died from disease or accidents during construction.

Modern Mumbai As a manufacturing centre with half a million workers, Mumbai ranks second to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), but its diversification has made it more resistant to national recession. 41% are employed in cotton textiles, 20% in engineering, and large numbers in oil refining, chemicals, consumer goods, vehicles, and the film industry. Mumbai is a major financial and stockbroking centre with headquarters of the Reserve Bank of India and many national and international companies. The international airport of Santa Cruz is on Salsette Island.

Population growth and poverty Industrial expansion and a restricted site on an island and isthmus have resulted in traffic congestion, high pollution levels and overcrowding, with one-third of the population homeless or in makeshift houses. The government has promoted industrial dispersal since the 1960s and the City and Industrial Development Corporation of 1970 has developed a new infrastructure to attract industry and inhabitants away to the north of the original Mumbai isthmus. New Mumbai on the mainland across the Thane Creek is also being developed to help ease the problem. It is estimated continued migration from the countryside could bring Mumbai's population to 30 million by 2021 even though unemployment and underemployment are very high.

Parsees Within the predominantly Hindu population there are about 100,000 Parsees who, in particular the Tata family, have a significant role in Mumbai's commercial and administrative activities, despite their relatively small numbers. The five Towers of Silence where Parsee dead are placed for removal by vultures are located between the Malabar and Comballa Hills.

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

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