Apropos this controversy between the mayor and the sheriff, I think neither in his individual capacity can beautify Bomaby. To do so, you require an organisation like the government or the municipal corporation, and preferably both. It requires a lot of money, not social service by the sheriff and his friends, and empty speeches by the mayor and his party.
You need money to build houses (not housing board tenements), schools, parks, roads, a better transport service, an underground train service like the Calcutta metro, 24-hour water-supply on tap, more land recovered from the sea, the demolition of old buildings and their replacement by new buildings, the maintenance of historic structures and illuminating them in the night.
And you require men of vision and a professional training in town-planning and not men who fight among themselves as to who first started giving out traffic-islands to private companies to beautify them. Perhaps, for the sheriff to concentrate on such an activity is all tight, he is a small official, without an infrastrucute to his office. But for the mayor to talk of traffic-islands when he should be constructing giant parks is small thinking.
And money, there is Ė plenty of it. After all, Bombay is the richest city in India, 50 times richer than Delhi, 50,000 times richer than Patna, Bhubaneshwar and Guwahati put together. What is required is that the money has to be properly collected and intelligently used.
For one thing, Mr. Sharad Pawar, who does not think twice about defying the centre for his own personal ends, should demand more money from the centre for Bombay, or, in retaliation, refuse to send any money accruing from Bomaby to the national coffer. That would place a real crisis into their laps, whichever may be the government at the centre.
And Bombay's rich could be taxed more, and, once they are assured that the money is going to be spent on improving the city, they (at least, the majority of them) would not mind paying more taxes.
For instance, car-owners could be asked to pay extra vechicle tax, 25 per cent of the original purchase price of the car, annually, and the money used to concretise all the existing roads and construct new roads. And those with houses should be taxed to finance those without houses. And parents of every student in college should pay the fees of a poor student in school. And if parents send their children to Harvard or Yale, then they should subsidise a whole classroom full of children.
And the two railways should be taxed for using the terminals in Bombay and the money used to build a metro.
Bombay's problem will nto be solved by calling it Mumbai. Nor by Amitabh Bachchan putting up a free performance at Chowpatty.