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 Home > City Resources > Finance > Commercial Capital of India
  Commercial Capital  

Mumbai, the commercial capital of India.

The Mughals were not interested in navies. They were a Bombay Stock Exchangepeople who understood only the logic of land. The Europeans, on the other hand, were the ones who navigated the seas and found the various sea routes. The British colonisers recognised Bombay's potential as a centre of commerce that they could control.

Trade in Bombay, 19th Century wayThe opening up of Bombay to trade attracted the Parsis, Bohras, Jews and Banias from neighbouring Gujarat, Surat and Diu. This was the start of a migration to Bombay, which soon expanded to people coming in from all over India . With ship building already having shifted from Surat to Bombay, labour, artisans and weavers also moved here to co-exist with the slave trade from Madagascar. The shipbuilding industry moved to Bombay from Surat with the coming of the Wadias. During the British period, Bombay enjoyed great economic wealth.

Trade in Bombay through the sea routeThe end of the British imperial rule in India was clearly presaged by the Quit India declaration by the Indian National Congress on August 8, 1942, in Gowalia Tank Maidan, near Kemp's Corner. India became a free country on August 15, 1947. In the meanwhile, Greater Bombay had come into existence through an Act of the British parliament in 1945. Millennial Mumbai Already India's main port and commercial centre, the City of Gold lured the poverty stricken rural population and the expanding middle class equally. The population boom of the '50s and '60s was fuelled by the absence of opportunities in the rest of the country.

Infotech Park at Navi MumbaiRaw cotton from Gujarat was shipped to Lancashire in England through the Bombay port, and after being spun and woven into cloth, were returned to be sold in the Indian market. In 1853 a 35-km long railway line between Thana and Bombay was inaugurated-- the first in India. Four years later, in 1854, the first cotton mill was founded in Bombay. The outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861 increased the demand for cotton in the West and several personal fortunes were made during this period from the resulting trade. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 brought the West closer to Bombay.

As the city became more prosperous, many schemes were launched for reclaiming additional land and building more roads and wharves. Bombay began to attract fortune hunters by the hundreds and the population had swelled, in a little less than 100 years, from 13,726 in 1780 to 644,405 in 1872. By 1906, the population of Bombay was to become 977,822. The latter half of the 19th century saw feverish construction of buildings in Bombay. Many of these -- the Victoria Terminus, the General Post Office, Municipal Corporation, the Prince of Wales Museum, Rajabai Tower and Bombay University, Elphinstone College and the Cawasji Jehangir Hall, the Crawford Market, the Old Secretariat (Old Customs House) and the Public Works Department (PWD) Building - still stand today as major landmarks and are listed as heritage buildings.

The Bombay State included the city as its seat of government. In 1960 the state of Bombay was split into Maharashtra and Gujarat states again on linguistic basis, the former retaining Bombay city as its capital.With the success of the backbay reclamation scheme in the late 1960s and early 1970s , Nariman Point became the hub of business activity. Several offices shifted from Ballard Estate to Nariman Point, which ultimately became one of the most expensive real estate areas in the world, as high demand pushed prices to astronomical limits. Nariman Point is named after K F Nariman, president of the Bombay Provincial Congress Committee and former mayor of the city. Churchgate Street was also renamed as Veer Nariman Road after independence. But a lot of construction that people still see in Mumbai today happened even before the British came in. Between the 9th and 13th centuries, the Arabian Sea was central as a route of commerce. During this period, the islands changed hands many times.

Presumably the first merchants and agriculturists settled in Mumbai at this time. Bombay (now renamed Mumbai) India's golden metropolitian city is the most fast moving, affluent, industrialised city and the economic powerhouse of the country. It handles almost half of the country's foreign trade and is a stronghold of free enterprises, a centre of India's most important textile industry and also the financial centre of the country. It's is the New York of India. A mixture of different races and culture, it's a city with smart hightech buildings pockmarked with slum dwellings. Bombay's range of industries include virtually all consumer goods - cars, textiles and high tech multimedia. Apart from this Bombay boasts one of the biggest and a very flourishing film industry.

The Bombay Stock exchange was established with 318 members with a fee of Re. 1/-. This fee has gradually increased over the years and today it is a over a crore. The BSE is housed in the 28-storied Phiroze Jeejeebhoy Towers in the same place where the old building once stood. In 1995 the operations and dealings of the BSE were fully computerized and thus the famous out-cry system of share trading was replaced by screen based trading as in other modern stock exchanges around the world. Today Bombay is the financial and business capital of India.

By : Sharmistha Chakraborty


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