Mumbai vs Delhi: Which is better city?

Planned cities: Why Delhi is hotter property than Mumbai

by Sunainaa Chadha Jul 2, 2012

Despite the global economic slowdown, strong demand from the IT space as against financial services has helped NCR (National Capital Region) overtake Mumbai as the largest commercial market in India with nearly 85 million (8.5 crore) square feet of office space under operation, of which Gurgaon and Noida have contributed nearly 89 percent  of the upcoming office supply, a latest report by property research firm Knight Frank pointed out.

So what is it that makes Delhi more attractive than Mumbai for corporates?

Improved infrastructure, open spaces, good transport connection, low-cost housing , a metropolitan lifestyle in areas around offices and cheaper land.

Good infra and connectivity key to rise in office absorption in Delhi

Delhi commercial realty is completely IT-driven, which are not only expanding but also consolidating operations  by renting large spaces in areas like Gurgaon and New Delhi,  Santosh Kumar, CEO Operations at realty firm Jones Land LaSalle India told Firstpost. Gurgaon’s biggest advantage is its proximity to the airport, smooth connectivity to New Delhi and land costing between Rs 65-100 a square foot, which is what IT companies can afford, he explained.

Delhi commercial realty is completely IT-driven, which are not only expanding but also consolidating operations by renting large spaces in areas like Gurgaon and New Delhi

Moreover, apart from Gurgaon, companies are seen shifting office space to Noida too. This is because rentals are nearly 50 percent lower in Greater Noida compared to Gurgaon. This has been the biggest pull factor for companies looking to set up big campuses here. “Good connectivity, planned infrastructure and ample affordable housing options for employees are some of the key contributing factors to the growing commercial developments in Greater Noida. The proposed metro will further boost the real estate development in this region,” said Samanthak Das, national research head at Knight Frank in its latest report.

Cheaper land, easier payment options for builders in Noida

Secondly, land in Noida is government-controlled which is then auctioned off for construction. This makes it easier for developers too as they can pay for the auctioned land in installments, said Kumar.

While Capgemini, Ingersoll Rand took up place in IT SEZ buildings in Gurgaon, Google signed up a deal in a non IT stand alone building in Gurgaon. Hewitt and United Health Group preferred Noida over other micro-markets.

Mumbai, on the other hand is an expanding city with diminishing space.  As an Outlook report pointed out “MMRDA built the Bandra Kurla Complex but did not factor in transport connections. Planning when it happened, was piecemeal, sectoral and driven by vested interests.”

BKC, the alternative to Nariman Points for commercial space, commands rentals as high as Rs 135-to Rs 200 a square foot when the average demand is in the Rs 50 a square foot range. Moreover, in an economic slump financial services is not expanding but contracting, which is why one has not heard of any Citigroup-like deal in BKC in the last four quarters.

Cost is cheaper in Navi Mumbai but approval delays prevent it from being a business hub

Navi Mumbai with its unique economic microcosm should have  proved to be something of a game changer in Mumbai’s realty space. But sadly it failed to do so because of its inability to connect to with the rest of the MMRA region, delayed launches and government approvals for construction of more office and residential spaces. “Even through office rentals in Navi Mumbai are as low as Rs 30-Rs 50 per square foot, it never became the commercial hub as against Andheri or Lower Parel. This is because development was a slow process and that too with many loopholes, said Pankaj Kapoor, MD at property consulting firm Liasas Foras.

Real estate and infrastructure go hand in hand, they cannot be isolated

Andheri East is soon emerging as the next business hub in Mumbai as the region has a blend of commercial and residential areas equipped with better connectivity and availability of bigger spaces at reasonable price. But here too infrastructure is the biggest issue— poor roads, poor public transport, insane traffic and the prolonged metro work  has begun  affecting demand.

This is why real estate and infrastructure development need to be looked at as a single phenomenon while planning a city, rather than in isolation. A sealink is not the answer, what Mumbai needs is affordable homes near work places, a better public transport system and better connectivity across Mumbai Metro Region, which includes Thane, Navi Mumbai, Kalyan and other far-off suburbs.

Authorities like MMRDA have experimented with low-rental housing schemes, but these have not been very successful as a proper framework has been missing for such schemes. Limitations in such schemes include development in far-flung areas, which are not suitable as affordable housing locations and lack of means to identify end users.

Is Delhi more cosmopolitan than Mumbai?

Anahita Mukherji
01 October 2012, 11:48 AM IST

If you happen to be a Mumbaikar who shifts base to Delhi, you’re bound to get that strange, sympathetic look that people would give a Siberian prisoner when asking the question, “How are you settling in?” If you happen to say you love Delhi, you’ll get a peculiar stare that says, “Oh! So you enjoy life in a Siberian prison.”

Nearly a year ago, I moved from the country’s financial capital to its political capital, and I find it impossible not to fall in love with the ‘City of Djinns’.

The first thing that strikes you when you shift from Mumbai to Delhi is the fact that Delhi has roads, a commodity that’s a tad rare in Mumbai. Gardens in Mumbai often consist of a cluster of trees, while some of Delhi’s gardens look straight out of a Moghul fairy-tale.

But what I love most about Delhi is that no one community stakes claim to the city. And so, by definition, it’s everybody’s city and nobody is an outsider. I’ve heard smatterings of Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali, Malayalam and Assamese while traveling on the Delhi Metro.

From the Punjabi migrants who flooded Delhi post-Partition to the residents of Shahjahanabad who have lived in the city for generations, and from the newer economic migrants to civil servants on posting in the capital, Delhi, to my mind, is the quintessential migrant city.

While Mumbai is a city built by migrant labour, and one that continues to thrive because of it, parochial politics is beginning to rob the island city of its cosmopolitan character.

Mumbai is now a city where vulnerable taxi drivers from North India can get beaten up simply because they’re, well, from North India. This isn’t Mumbai’s first experiment in exclusion. There was a time when both South Indians and Gujaratis were asked to leave the city.

Mumbai’s hostility towards migrants could well be among the reasons why Delhi has beaten Mumbai as the number one city for migrants. An analysis of census data shows that the largest streams of urban migration in India over the last decade are to Delhi, with more people migrating to Delhi than to any other state in the country.

The first thing I was told when I shifted to Delhi was that the streets would be deserted by 7 pm. I was pleasantly surprised to find a traffic jam outside my office at the time.  And while travelling on the Delhi Metro at 10 pm, there were times I didn’t find place to sit.

While Delhi may not go to sleep quite as early as the average Mumbaikar imagines, it certainly lacks the kind of nightlife Mumbai has, which makes Mumbai safer than most cities at midnight.

But while much is said about the lecherous men in Delhi, there have been plenty of horror stories about street sexual harassment in Mumbai, or for that matter any other city in the country. This seems to be a pan-India phenomenon, one that all Indian women who walk the streets have to deal with.

There have been at least three reported instances over the last few years where women have been violated by mobs in Mumbai—one at Gateway of India, another at Juhu and a third at Marine Drive. And lest we forget, eight years ago, a young girl was raped by a policeman along the Mumbai sea front.

While it’s hard to argue with crime statistics, according to which Delhi consistently emerges India’s rape capital, I do believe that this has as much to do with the infrastructure, as it has to do with the men. It’s easier to pull a woman into a car and drive off on Delhi’s smooth roads than it would be in a city as crowded as Mumbai, which is almost entirely devoid of open space.

While it might be safer for a woman out late at night in Mumbai than it is in Delhi, I do believe that conversations around Mumbai’s virtues and Delhi’s vices are often prone to exaggeration.

PS: Mumbai remains my hometown, a city I have grown up in, and so it’s with a tinge of sadness that I write about the dark side of the city of dreams. But there’s a part of me that feels that Mumbai, today, is no longer the Bombay I grew up in

Mumbai realty is dead. It’s time to move on

by Sunainaa Chadha Aug 13, 2012

With a little over  one lakh residential flats lying unsold in Mumbai, an inventory which will take more than three years to clear as not much of it is available for immediate possession, consumer resistance in Mumbai’s real estate market is peaking.

Sale of Mumbai apartments in the financial year 2012 dropped by more than 60 percent from its peak in 2007 and 35 percent from 2011, according to data from property research firm Knight Frank.  What’s worse, of the market average of 80,000 units, only 45,000 apartments were sold in the Mumbai Metropolitan region during 2011-2012.

When buyers are not biting, it also implies gloom for investors who  buy more than one flat because they expect good appreciation. From the looks of it, even investor sentiment has turned bearish as interest rates are high, regulatory approvals are stuck and developers are not being able to deliver the returns they had earlier promised to PE investors.

Apart from losing its top position in home financing, recently  real estate data firm Qubrex replaced Mumbai with Noida as the second-most sought after real estate destination. Reuters

Surprisingly, even resale homes – usually cheaper than new property – aren’t selling for want of buyers. “I have been trying to sell my flat in Goregaon at a 20 percent discount, but even at Rs 70 lakh  there are no buyers,” says Amit Ghoshal, a Mumbai-based resident.

The two biggest reasons why Mumbaikars aren’t buying are expectations of a decline in prices and lack of confidence  in the developer’s ability to deliver.

This is also evident from loan growth at India’s housing finance companies. Loan growth at LIC Housing Finance has slipped to 17 percent in 2011-12 from 28 percent a year ago, forcing the company to set a lower target of 20 percent for the current fiscal.

“The sharp rise in interest rates, high property prices in some locations and economic slowdown have resulted in a meaningful reduction in demand for housing in the two biggest cities, Delhi and Mumbai. Were rates to continue at these high levels and the economic environment were to deteriorate significantly we could see growth rates for the housing finance companies (HFCs) coming down”, noted Esprito Santo Securities in its latest report .

With the financial situation worsening thanks to poor infrastructure and economic slowdown, Mumbai has slipped behind Pune and NCR in the mortgage market too as record realty prices keep customers away.

“Lending in Mumbai has come down. Prices have shot to unsustainable levels,”  VK Sharma, MD and CEO, LIC Housing Finance, was quoted as saying in the Economic Times.  ”The real estate market is under stress. New projects are not coming up and existing ones are getting delayed. Also, with prices at this level, expectation of returns has also fallen.”

Apart from losing its top position in home financing, recently  real estate data firm Qubrex replaced Mumbai with Noida as the second-most sought after real estate destination, citing better  price appreciation in three years, emerging connectivity, potential growth in economic activity, nationally reputed builders, infrastructure and low  land acquisition risk.

“Currently the price range in Noida is attractive and that is driving investor demand. In Mumbai, or Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR), new project launches in the last 18 months have not been attractive/large/affordable,” Om Ahuja, CEO – Residential Services, Jones Lang LaSalle India, told Firstpost.

Mumbai has also become unattractive since it caters to mid-to-high end segments while low-income homes are difficult to find. According to Pankaj Kapoor, Managing Director at property consulting firm Liasas Foras,  80 percent of the demand for residential homes is in the Rs 45 lakh to Rs 70 lakh segment. But supply to meet this demand exists only in the far-flung suburbs of Panvel, Neral, Dombivli, Badlapur and beyond – where infrastructure and community life is weak, and the daily one-way commute to Mumbai can take as much as two hours. This essentially means no affordable homes exist in Mumbai and its immediate closest satellite towns of Navi Mumbai and Thane.

Says Mudassir Zaidi, Regional Director at Knight Frank, “In Mumbai, the problem is space. Most offices and business centres are either in the centre or on the Western Corridors. Areas like Navi Mumbai are developed, but the business community hasn’t taken to them yet.”

On the other hand,  areas like Noida and Gurgaon, despite being suburbs, are independent cities in themselves with proper infrastructure, offices, schools and all other amenities. And the average ticket size of a property here costs anything between Rs 25 lakh and Rs 75 lakh.

“There has not been any  dramatic governmental initiative to improve infrastructure in Mumbai compared to Noida. Inventory in specific areas has piled up but in key areas the scenario is quite different. There are always buyers for the right product, right location and right price,” explained Ahuja.

But the biggest game changer has been expectations of capital appreciation and development.

“Mumbai is an investors’ market, but investors  in times of slowing economic conditions are looking for other options to invest, instead of heated-up markets,” Anshuman Magazine, head, CB Richard Ellis, was quoted as saying in Business Standard.

And there is the magic of infrastructure and development.

An era of development has already begun in Delhi NCR with the opening up of the Yamuna Expressway. Property experts  believe that that realty market in the region is going to witness a boom and the NCR and western UP belt will become a hot destination for home buyers and investors.  In the last one year, property prices have shot up 30 percent in Noida and Gurgaon and 38 percent in Greater Noida. This is expected to rise another 30 percent this year.

Against this, property prices in Mumbai have more or less remained stagnant in the last one year, with many developers being forced to offer discount schemes to lure buyers. This is of course in the high-end segment. Secondly, infra planning has been a major flop show in the city. The Chembur to Jacob circle  monorail project  and the Mumbai-Trans Harbour Link have already been delayed and so is the elevated road near the Chhattrapati Shivaji International Airport. There’s no word on the Navi Mumbai airport, which has run into land-acquisition problems now.

Mumbai can get back into the game only if the affordability factor is first addressed. Without real buyers, realtors cannot hope to push sales.

Noida replaces Mumbai as second best realty destination: Report

Gurgaon scores down from previous year but still on top

Dilasha Seth / New Delhi Aug 09, 2012, 00:17 IST


Noida  has replaced Mumbai as the second-best realty destination this year, according to an analyst report. Gurgaon-Manesar retained the top slot.

The rankings by real estate data firm Qubrex are based on eight parameters—supply and demand, likely price appreciation in three years, emerging connectivity, potential growth in economic activity, nationally reputed builders, infrastructure, land acquisition risk, etc. Noida rose from the sixth slot last year, owing to increasing connectivity, the likelihood of the Delhi Metro being extended to Noida Extension in two to three years and the expected master plan clearance by the National Capital Region (NCR) Planning Board. “The land acquisition risk has come down, as the NCR Planning Board would clear the master plan soon,” said Sanjay Sharma, managing director, Qubrex. He, however, added hurdles in Noida Extension and the Yamuna Expressway remained. Major roads are expected to be operational soon, said Sharma. The Yamuna Expressway, which would connect Delhi to Agra, is scheduled to be opened tomorrow.

Gurgaon-Manesar retains the crown despite Maruti violence

Top 5 rankings in 2011



















Top 5 rankings in 2012



















Source: Qubrex

According to a Cushman and Wakefield report, in the quarter ended June, Noida saw the highest number of new units launched in the NCR.

Experts say the Mumbai real estate market has also heated up, and with the economy slowing, investors are putting their money in the mid-income category, rather than high-end properties. According to the Qubrex rankings, Mumbai slipped to the third position in July from the second in December 2011.

“There are large unsold inventories in the city,” said Sharma. He added since the Panvel airport project seemed to be running into land acquisition problems, the parameter of ‘potential growth in economic activities’ was rated a notch lower.

“Mumbai is an investors’ market, but investors on Wednesday, in times of slowing economic conditions, are going for other options to invest, instead of heated-up markets,” said Anshuman Magazine, head, CB Richard Ellis.

Developers in Mumbai and Delhi saw pre-sales fall up to 30 per cent year-on-year, stated a report by brokerage firm Kim Eng. “Customers are waiting for developers to reduce property prices. These have risen 30 per cent over the last one year,” it stated.

Mumbai saw a fall of 73 per cent in supply in the quarter ended June, compared to the quarter ended March. Only 1,200 units were launched in Mumbai, against 4,460 in the previous quarter, while nine projects were launched in the quarter, according to data by Cushman and Wakefield.

Gurgaon remained at the top of the rankings, despite drawbacks like the violence at Maruti’s Manesar plant. However, it secured only 8.5 points, compared with 9.2 points in 2011, owing to water electricity shortage in the region. “Potential growth in the region also saw a cut in ratings due to the Maruti unrest and other labour problems,” said Sharma. However, he added new licences may be curbed, and this would help maintain an attractive supply-demand equation.

Why Mumbai is Delhi's poor cousin

Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN | Feb 16, 2012, 04.47AM IST

MUMBAI: The country's financial capital gets step-motherly treatment compared to Delhi, said chief minister Prithviraj Chavan during his visit to TOI's headquarters in Mumbai on Tuesday, promising to seek Rs 1 lakh crore from the Centre to develop the city's infrastructure.

Though Mumbai is evidently in greater need, Delhi since 2005 has received 34% more funds under the Centre's flagship urban development programme. For projects from roads and flyovers to sewage and heritage conservation, Delhi received Rs 1,821 crore more that Mumbai under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM).

"We need to have a window for megacities and some of Mumbai's major projects need to be elevated to national status," Chavan said, mentioning the Coastal Road Freeway, Mumbai Metro & Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link, Navi Mumbai Airport, Virar-Alibaug Corridor and Interstate River Linking Project.

He said the Centre should invest in the freeway, given that most other metros, including Delhi, boast of ring roads. Also, he said, the Centre needed to think about what it intended to do with the vast amount of land it occupied in Mumbai.

Chavan said Delhi had an unfair advantage: much of its roads and flyovers are an outcome of events like the Commonwealth Games. Experts believe Delhi's political positioning makes it the favoured choice for international events and also attracts central investment. Senior bureaucrats say funding is a politically sensitive issue and Delhi clearly wins in lobbying.

But some experts say a funding comparison with Delhi does not hold. Santosh Mehrotra, director general of the Planning Commission's Institute of Applied Manpower Research, said parallels are unfair to draw as Delhi enjoys the status of a state. "If you compare the condition of Mumbai with Delhi's infrastructure, the former certainly is in greater need (of funds). But it is worth questioning why in our decentralized setup does the Maharashtra government not plough back the revenues it generates into the financial capital or what prevents the BMC from generating more revenue through taxing local sources."

Senior economist Abhay Pethe, who works closely with the state government, said much of Mumbai's problem lies in underutilization of funds. "In the last five years, we have not been able to spend the entire amount of JNNURM funds allocated to us. Delhi in contrast is more efficient with spending funds."

Officials at the Union Urban Development Ministry estimate that Mumbai has spent 95% of central funds compared to Delhi's 115% (percentage includes local body funding).

Some experts said Mumbaikars, fed up with their daily grind, had become immune to a gross lack of facilities and no longer engaged with their city's governance mechanisms. Delhiites in contrast were more politically motivated, translating into more effective governance despite the presence of many more governance agencies.


Commercial and bollywood hub Mumbai vs Media and political 'capital' Delhi: Is the race over?

25 Dec, 2011, 02.01PM IST,

TV Mahalingam, Rohit Chandavarkar, Malini Goyal & Shantanu N Sharma,ET Bureau

Mumbai versus Delhi – that's one topic that can resurrect comatose parties, that's a perennial favourite on Twitter and one that often leads to chest-thumping louder than a band of gorillas engaged in a territorial showdown. It's a war of words that Delhi and its fans are starting to win more often, and not without reason. Even Mumbai's most ardent fans cannot deny that life in the megapolis has got tougher and the quality of life in the country's national capital has improved over the years.

Don't take our word for it. Just sample the public transport in the two cities before you pass judgment. A train journey from Huda City Centre (a station in the satellite city of Gurgaon) to Rajiv Chowk in central Delhi takes roughly 50 minutes – about the same time taken to get from Vashi (in Navi Mumbai) to the iconic Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in South Mumbai by a 'Mumbai local'.

The time taken to reach is where the similarity ends. In Delhi, passengers make the journey in the comfort of an air-conditioned Bombardier coach and are likely to grab a seat, except perhaps in peak hours. In Mumbai, if the passengers manage to wriggle and wrestle their way into the jam-packed coaches, they are likely to be on their toes, literally, for the rest of the journey.

That's just one of the many challenges that Mumbai throws at its ever loyal citizenry. A paucity of affordable housing, traffic snarls, roads that resemble water-based theme parks during monsoons and terror attacks that recur with predictable regularity are making people wonder if Mumbai's days as India's #1 city are numbered. More importantly, is Mumbai on the same road Kolkata took exactly a century ago to decay and national and commercial insignificance?

A Bridge to Hope

The jury is still out on that question, but don't write Mumbai's epitaph yet. As you read this, one of Mumbai's most ambitious infrastructure projects is up for grabs. The `8,800-crore Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MHTL) is a 22-km long link that will connect the island city to the relatively underdeveloped mainland (in Navi Mumbai) and thereby solve one of the city's biggest problems: paucity of land for development.


Sources in Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), the government body overseeing the project, reveal that 16-odd firms are interested in the project, including construction major HCC and Anil Ambani's Reliance Infrastructure. "We will do it once but we will do it well," says MMRDA chief commissioner Rahul Asthana, referring to MTHL that he says will be built within six years.

Don't reach for the champagne yet though. Mumbai and the MTHL have flattered to deceive before. As an idea, MTHL has been on paper even longer than the much-delayed Lokpal Bill. Yes, that's right. Whereas the Lokpal Bill was first introduced in 1968 in Parliament, the idea of a MTHL was first recommended in a study called "Planning of Road system for Mumbai Metropolitan Region" in 1962. Almost half a century later, the project is still in the tendering stage. In the past seven years, the project has been scrapped twice. That's been Mumbai's curse – its inability to take forward projects that are absolutely essential for its development forward.

Decline Ahead?

"It would be premature to say that Mumbai's on a decline," says Arvind Mahajan, infrastructure head, KPMG.

"However, its infrastructure growth has not kept pace with the growth of the city," he adds.

This point of view is echoed by Kunal Shroff who heads ChrysCapital's Infrastructure business in India. "Globally, India looks like a bright spot to bet your future on, in the long term. But Mumbai hasn't been able to manage its growth," he says. "Living costs, infrastructure, housing, commute – all these are big challenges," says Shroff, who grew up and studied in Mumbai.

So what ails Mumbai? Its litany of laments is long and all-too familiar. Mumbai is boxed in as much by some of its natural constraints (an island city with limited land) as much by man-made ones – density of population, an apathetic government, pains of growth and lack of governance.

Even though the pace of migration into the city has ebbed in recent years, the city continues to be among the most populous urban habitats in the world. Mumbai packs in about 20,000 plus people per square km compared with the NCR region, which has a population density of 9,252 people. Overall, the Mumbai Metropolitan Region is home to 20.5 million people. This density of population – bulk of which lives in slums – makes any large-scale infrastructure project, that involves the dislocation of people, almost impossible to execute.

"What Mumbai faces is an enormous challenge of scale, for 4,000 houses that Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (MHADA) wanted to allot at affordable rates, we received over half a million applications," says Gautam Chatterjee, principal secretary, housing, Maharashtra government.

Bad Governance

Mumbai also has governance issues. "The upkeep of Mumbai is handled by 17 different agencies. It's not an easy task to co-ordinate infrastructure projects in the city," says Narinder Nayar, chairman of Mumbai First, an organisation that works closely with the state government. Nayar should know as he has worked with four chief ministers and five chief secretaries.

Also, due to multitude of agencies that have a say in infrastructure development, the city is a victim of haphazard planning and red tape. "The zoning in Mumbai is a mess. Bang in the middle of residential areas, you have commercial establishments and vice versa. As a result, slums crop up everywhere," says Sanjay Dutt, CEO, business, Jones Lang LaSalle India, a global property consultant.


Also, unlike Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit, whose electoral fortunes are decided by the folks of Delhi and who therefore has every reason to work towards the betterment of the city, Mumbai has no patron. "Mumbai is hostage to the state government, with no single person overseeing it," says Srei Infrastructure Finance president, Shailesh Pathak, who divides time between two offices – Saket in New Delhi and Breach Candy in Mumbai. "If Maharashtra's CM takes too much interest in Mumbai, he or she would be perceived as anti-poor and uncaring towards the rest of the state." Interestingly, Maharashtra has never had a chief minister who has been elected from Mumbai.

Corruption is also an issue. "Whoever I speak to in the Maharashtra government, corruption is very high at all levels here. I think Karnataka leads in corruption and Maharashtra follows," says a senior executive with a leading consultancy.

Architect and town planning expert Neera Adarkar says vested interests in the real estate sector keep stalling projects that would usher affordable housing. "Every time land is released by the government – whether it is slum land, mill land or reserved land – we are told prices will come down. But prices never fall," Adarkar alleges.

All this has led to, in some ways, a decline in the quality of life in the city. Questions are being raised about its future as a commercial hub. "There isn't adequate planning and spending on Mumbai in proportion to the taxes it pays," says Adi Godrej, chairman, Godrej Group. "Do we have a 10-year plan for the city? If it is there, is it being executed?" he asks. The gripe is legitimate – Mumbai accounts for 35% of India's direct tax collections.

"Unfortunately for Mumbai, all the taxes the city pays are spent on beautifying the gardens of Delhi," remarks the head of a Mumbai-based business house, rather bitterly. And that sentiment is only getting stronger in the business circles of Mumbai.

Lessons from Delhi

Proud Mumbaikars will squirm at the thought of learning anything from Delhi. But the fact is that the quality of life in Delhi has improved over the years and Mumbai can take a leaf out of the Capital's book.

John Roche, a regular visitor to Delhi for the last five years, has seen the worst that Delhi can offer – from long waits at baggage carousel at an airport to getting stuck in jams in the city-under-construction ahead of the Commonwealth Games. Roche, head of Red Cross India, finds life in Delhi easier.

"I feel the Metro rail and modernisation of the airport have done the trick. The city now is more modern, much greener and it remains as energetic as it used to be," says Roche.

That transformation has not happened by the wave of a magic wand. Interventions beginning with the Supreme Court's clampdown on polluted industries and vehicles in the late 1990s to the city's targeted completion of infrastructure projects (like airport modernisation and Metro) have changed the city's landscape and lifestyle.

"Delhi is undoubtedly India's most pampered city. It's the only city that hosted two prestigious sporting events – Asian Games and Commonwealth Games. Funding has never been a constraint for Delhi," says Amitabh Kant, who heads the $90-billion project of building seven new cities along the proposed Delhi-Mumbai industrial corridor. Adds Neeta Ramnath, senior V-P, Feedback Ventures: "The support of the central government for Delhi makes things work faster and easier in Delhi as compared to Mumbai."

Pampered Capital

In all, about Rs 16,000 crore was spent only on Delhi's city development ahead of the Games. This included Rs 3,000 crore for extension of the Metro rail, Rs 650 crore for street scaping, Rs 900 crore for development of bus depots and Rs 3,700 crore on flyovers and bridges. "Over the last five years or more, Delhi's infrastructure has been driven by the Commonwealth Games and E Sreedharan (Delhi Metro chief). Mumbai does not have either. Also, capital cities in any country tend to get better treatment in terms of receiving funds," says OP Agarwal, a senior transport specialist based in World Bank's headquarters.

And it's not just about the Metro alone. "In comparison with Mumbai, the Delhi airport developer was lucky. The availability of land was not an issue, and the airport is in proximity to outer ring roads, highways and metro rail services," says Kanu Gohain, former director general of civil aviation.

The fact that almost every politician of some importance spends time in Delhi has also helped the city's cause. There are several anecdotal instances of decisions on Delhi's key infrastructure being expedited because of political considerations.

"The Airport Express Link in Delhi is actually a financially unviable project that got pushed through only because of political heavyweights. As the concessionaires are perhaps realising, this is a 'showpiece' project, without much traffic. Mumbai could never have succeeded in getting a similar project approved," says Srei's Pathak. Another example: the alignment of the Rao Tula Ram flyover in Delhi was changed because of pressure exerted by influential neighbours in Vasant Vihar.

The Mumbai Jinx

In stark contrast, Mumbai's crucial infrastructure projects never seem to take off. The MTHL project was scrapped twice in the last decade. The Dharavi Redevelopment Scheme has proved to be a non-starter as many times in the same period. The Metro project is progressing at a snail's pace. The second phase of the Bandra Worli Sea Link is in a limbo. The proposed international airport in Navi Mumbai faced hurdles from a proactive environment ministry. With those hurdles now out of the way, the proposed Land Acquisition Bill now threatens to derail the project.

"Navi Mumbai airport was moving reasonably well till the Land Acquisition Bill was introduced in parliament. Now that has raised the expectation of farmers by 5-6 times… no project will come up if the land cost itself is going up by Rs 5,000 crore," AM Naik, CMD, L&T, recently told ET Now.

Given this track record, it's not surprising that Mumbai's sheen is wearing off. That leads to the question: can Mumbai still rightly stake its claim as India's financial capital other than just by flashing its direct tax collections? Can the NCR region with its BPOs, advertising agencies and auto companies in Gurgaon stake claim? Not yet.

"Mumbai is still the place where the largest companies in corporate India are headquartered. If you want to work in the higher echelons of sectors like consulting and financial services, Mumbai is the place to be," says KPMG's Mahajan. And then, there is the people aspect.

A To-do List

"I believe if you want to work, Mumbai is better. If you want to have a decent life, you live in Delhi," says Rajiv Kaul, CEO, CMS Infosystems. "Mumbai is far more professional. When I am hiring… quality of people in every way in Mumbai is far better. They cost less, have far better work ethics and are more professional. The pool is so much better than Delhi," adds Kaul.

So what can Mumbai do to get its mojo back? For one, it will have to reset it goals. "I think Mumbai should stop trying to become Shanghai. Look at Hong Kong instead," says JLL's Dutt. Hong Kong, like Mumbai, is landlocked. But the city has arguably the best public transportation system in the world. Over 90% of Hong Kong's residents use public transport. Mumbai just does not use its abundant coastline for traffic," says Dutt. In contrast, over 1,36,000 passengers use ferries to commute in Hong Kong everyday.

"Mumbai also has to go vertical. Cities like New York and Hong Kong have much higher FSI [floor space index] than Mumbai," says Godrej, adding that the speedy execution of projects like the MTHL and new airport are a must for the future of the city.

Mumbai loves a good fight. It has taken all adversity that's come its way – plagues, floods of biblical proportions, terror attacks – and yet thrived. Its biggest fight – one that will see it retain its supremacy as India's #1 city or go down as a city with just a glorious past – is being fought right now. The outcome of that fight will depend a lot on the speed of execution of infrastructure projects worth Rs 30,000 crore that are under way in the city.

Where Mumbai still scores?

India Inc's Home Turf

Some of India's largest corporates continue to be based in Mumbai. Most of India's top 20 (by m-cap) companies are headquartered in Mumbai. Anybody wanting to work in the higher echelons of India Inc might still want to consider Mumbai over Delhi

Natural Advantages

Mumbai handles over 60% of India's total containerised cargo traffic and as a result, industries like shipping and exports will continue to be based in the city

Work Culture

Mumbai is still the city with the most professional work culture. Despite cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad making steady progress, Mumbai scores because blue-chip companies of finance and insurance continue to be based here. Also, unlike the NCR region, Mumbai has been largely free of labour unrest in the last decade

What Ails Mumbai?

Poor Governance

Mumbai is governed by 17 agencies. Unlike Delhi, where the CM oversees the city's development, no official is wholly responsible for Mumbai's progress

Lack of a Political Champion

No Maharashtra chief minister has been elected from Mumbai. As a result, Mumbai has never had a godfather to champion its cause

Transportation Woes

The suburban trains are terribly overcrowded and Metro is way behind schedule. Key infrastructure projects like Mumbai Trans Harbour Link and the new international airport have proved to be paper dreams so far

Loss of its Cosmopolitan Soul

Mumbai was India's city of dreams for migrants – a melting pot of cultures. However, attacks on migrants, led by the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena, have sullied Mumbai's cosmopolitan image


Land is a scarce resource and given the shoddy governance of the city, real estate scams abound. In November 2010, Maharashtra CM Ashok Chavan quit after allegations of his involvement in the Adarsh Housing scam

Terror Attacks

Over 2,000 people have died in the past 20 years in terror attacks in the city. Despite Mumbai's ability to bounce back, terror is starting to affect its image as a safe city

Projects That Can Restore Mumbai's Glory

Trans Harbour Link

If and when executed, this project will connect the island city and the mainland (Navi Mumbai) with a multi-lane bridge across the sea. In one stroke, it will solve Mumbai's biggest problem: paucity of land. Status: Request for quotations are out

Mumbai Metro

The project is expected to ease the burden on the suburban railway network and will make commute across the island city easier Status: Mumbaikars will take their first Metro ride not before December 2012

Navi Mumbai Airport

With the existing airport due to reach peak capacity of 40 mn passengers by 2013, Mumbai needs a new one. The proposed international airport at Navi Mumbai will ease pressure on the existing one & spur the region's growth Status: Land acquisition is on

Sea Transport

Mumbai has a long coastline, yet the city does not have a cross-city water transport system though the state has toyed with the idea since 1999 Status: CM Prithiviraj Chavan ordered a feasibility study a month ago. Report expected by January

It's Delhi vs Mumbai

Seema Goswami, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, December 17, 2011


Have you noticed how any conversation about how much you love living in Delhi or working in Mumbai invariably degenerates into a Delhi vs Mumbai slanging match.

Have you noticed how any conversation about how much you love living in Delhi or working in Mumbai invariably degenerates into a Delhi vs Mumbai slanging match. The Delhi folks turn their noses up at the dirt and slush of Mumbai (seriously, what is that smell?). The Mumbai loyalists hold

forth on how Delhi has no heart and no time for those with no money or power. Team Delhi sneers about how Mumbai is routinely held to ransom by the Marathi manoos brigade.

Team Mumbai scoffs at how Delhi judges you by where you live and what car you drive. Delhi points at the south Bombay snobs and giggles. Mumbai tosses its head and says that at least women are safe in their city (unlike Delhi, which is the rape capital of the country). And thus it goes.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been inveigled into such conversations (okay, fights, if you insist) despite trying my best to stay out of this my city is better than yours debate. But last week, as Delhi celebrated 100 years of being declared the capital of India, I found myself being sucked into that very maelstrom.

Tweeting about what I loved about the city with the hashtag #ilovedelhi, I found myself floundering in a sea of Mumbai vs Delhi type responses.

It didn’t matter that I wasn’t tweeting about Mumbai at all but merely detailing what I loved about Delhi. I still got jumped on by Team Mumbai, who insisted on telling me why their city was so much superior. Then Team Delhi got into the act to thumb their noses at Mumbai. And soon a full-scale war was in progress.

I withdrew from the fray, battered by the negativity and a bit bemused by all the angst. Honestly, is it really necessary to knock one city if you want to praise another? Does loving Delhi mean that you must hate Mumbai and vice versa? I really don’t see why this should be so.

So, here’s a novel idea for all you Delhiites and Mumbaikars to try this week. Instead of running each other down let’s try and celebrate what is best about both cities. Just for a change, let’s list what we like about each other’s city instead of just focusing on what we despise.

Having spent time in both Delhi and Mumbai, I thought I would have a bash at that as well. So, here’s my own list of what I love about both Delhi and Mumbai. Read on, and then do get working on yours.

1. Delhi: The seasons. That’s probably the best part of living in the capital. You may sweat and fume and collapse in a puddle during the relentless summer but there’s always the absolutely fabulous winter to look forward to.

The days get shorter, the mornings get foggier, the nights get downright chilly. But even as the sweaters and coats are pulled out of mothballs, the parks turn into a riot of colours, the picnic baskets come out of storage, and all of Delhi is out over the weekend basking in the mellow sunshine. What’s not to love?

Mumbai: The sea. However cramped and claustrophobic your apartment may be, the moment you drive by the seaside and watch the horizon expand before you, it is easy to understand why Mumbai is described as a city of endless possibilities. Walk on to the beach, let the water tickle your feet. Jog along the waterline if you’re feeling energetic. Or simply sit on the parapet at Marine Drive and let the rhythm of the waves take you over. Bliss.

2. Delhi: The food. No matter what your taste-buds crave, you can always find it in Delhi. Trawl the lanes of old Delhi for the best kebabs and kormas. Sample the wares of the delightfully-named Paranthewalli Gali. Try the chaat and golguppas at Bengali Market. Scoff down momos at Dilli Haat. Work your way through all the many cafes in Khan Market, eating everything from Thai to Chinese to Italian food. And if you’re in the mood to spend, then treat yourself to the biryani and raan at Dum Pukht or a slap up meal at Set’z.

Mumbai:  The food. My personal favourite is Gajalee, where the fattest crabs lay down their lives so that we can have a great meal, though others swear by Trishna. Try the chaat at Swati, the vada-pao at Jumbo or just sample the wares at the many street food stalls on Juhu beach or Chowpatty. Have afternoon tea with bhel at the Taj’s Sea Lounge when you feel like treating yourself. Chill out at Olive or Indigo Deli. Feast on biryani at Zaffran’s and then stop by at Haji Ali for a tall glass of refreshing juice.

3. And then, there are the people. Don’t fall for all the nonsense about how Delhi people are cold and heartless. Or about how Mumbaikars are too busy to make time for a social life. At the end of the day, people are just people no matter which city they live in. And while every city has its share of misanthropes, you will always find like-minded people if you open your hearts to them. I did – and what do you know? Both Delhi and Mumbai opened their hearts to me as well.

How and why Delhi's food scene has outshone Mumbai's over the last decade.

December 9, 2011 2:42 pm by Roshni Bajaj Sanghvi

Olive Beach in New Delhi.

I spent three days in Delhi this week, visiting the Fine Foods Expo 2011. When I was not tasting everything from parathas to pinot noir in Hall Number 17 at Pragati Maidan, I was trying out various cuisines at the many restaurants in the capital city. I enjoyed chef Gresham Fernandes’s molecular gastronomy at Smoke House Room in Mehrauli; Himalayan (Bhutanese, Tibetan and Nepali) food in Hauz Khas Village; and Bihari cuisine in Shahpur Jat, thanks to the hospitality of many Delhi friends. I was constantly asked to extend my trip or to to come back soon and try Andhra Bhavan; make the trek to seedy Bhogal for Afghani food at Kabul Express; and sample the fare in Paharganj’s German bakeries and Israeli joints. While in Hauz Khas, friends recommended we climb three steep flights of steps to take a peek at Gunpowder, which describes its cuisine as “peninsular”. Even though online and media reviews for the tiny eatery have been hit and miss, I am deeply curious about their toddy shop meen curry, sweet and sour pumpkin and Coorgi pandi curry. Nagaland’s Kitchen in Green Park has been on my mind since I read the menu online, and during my next trip, I plan to try the akhuni roasted pork (cooked in fermented beans), fish robu (cooked in dry yam leaves) and rosep aon (veggies cooked with mixed Naga herbs). It has thus become necessary to go back to Delhi soon and for a longer trip.

This is strange, because I am a card-carrying lover of Mumbai’s food scene. And I have always thought my city to be better than the capital in most ways, including food. It perplexes me that Mumbai’s food scene is considered less vibrant, interesting and varied than Delhi’s. Until a decade ago, that was not true. Fine dining in Delhi meant five-star hotels; there were hardly any fancy stand-alone places.

Delhi’s most obvious argument is its cheaper real estate, making commercial food spaces more affordable and viable. But that is the old story and cannot be the only factor. So I asked a few restaurateurs, chefs and diners about what has changed, what makes them invest time and money in the capital, and why they prefer it to Mumbai. Some of their reasons were contradictory, but many made sense. Almost all of them said that Delhi folks have a higher propensity for conspicuous consumption. “People may not know what they are eating, but if they see a dish for Rs5,000, they will say ‘Chalo, khaatein hain’,” said Saurabh Sharma who has worked with food export companies based in France and Spain. “We like a little show- off-giri, and Delhi chefs understand that, so they show off very much. In Bombay, I ate a dosa at Sahara Star for Rs800, and all it had was potatoes in it. In a Delhi hotel, we would have gotten six chutneys with it.”

This proclivity to spend is something that chefs and restaurateurs use to their advantage. If Delhi diners choose foie gras simply because it is the new “it” (and most expensive) dish, eventually they will learn to appreciate it. “Delhi people are more understanding of my art,” said Sabyasachi Gorai, the director of kitchens for A.D. Singh’s restaurants Olive, Olive Beach and Ai in Delhi. “[Here] a diner thinks before going to a restaurant, considers if he will like it. In Mumbai, most people expect the restaurant to bend to their taste.” Gorai feels that it is easier to educate a Delhi diner. “In the process of showing off, they have learned to appreciate more food,” said Riyaaz Amlani, CEO and MD of Impresario Entertainment and Hospitality, which recently launched the 16,000 square feet Smoke House Room. “The average per-table spend of Mocha in Delhi is higher than the spend in Mumbai. In Mumbai, a restaurant survives on merit. In Delhi, it survives on the scene.”

Geography too works in Delhi’s favour. Coming to the city centre from not only Noida and Gurgaon, but also Haryana and Uttar Pradesh is far easier than making the trek from Navi Mumbai to Bandra or Colaba. In Mumbai, in many pockets, the demand for decent places to dine at outstrips supply, so prices get escalated and opening new, innovative restaurants commercially unviable. Delhi, rather than Mumbai, has also become the city of choice for migrants and expats. “People come from all over because the scope of employment is much bigger here,” said Gorai. “While Mumbai is more cosmopolitan in its outlook, Delhi attracts more people.”

For instance, employees from the nearby offices of Honda and Suzuki fill Gorai’s Japanese restaurant Ai. He claims that 45 of the 50 seats on most nights are occupied by Japanese expats. A. D. Singh, the managing director of the Olive properties in Delhi and Mumbai and partner at Ai, believes that Delhi’s large expat population has contributed greatly to the vibrancy of its food scene. “Not only the expats, but Delhi’s trade commissions, such as the Italian and Spanish ones, are very supportive of the food scene there,” said Singh. “It makes it easier to bring visiting chefs, organise festivals, and so on.”

Setting up a restaurant in Delhi is also less difficult than it is in Mumbai. “It is easier to get licences, because the city is not run by a state,” said Amlani. “You can get a 24-hour licence, while Mumbai still struggles for 1.30am.” [the time by which stand-alone establishments must shut] Many diners agreed that since Delhi’s Chief Minister only has to think about Delhi (unlike Mumbai, where the CM has to consider the state as a vote bank) it’s easier to make decisions that put the capital, its people, its needs and its lifestyle, in focus. “Doing business in Mumbai takes the life out of you,” said Amlani. “You have to keep schmoozing with the powers that be. Delhi has fewer professional blackmailers.”

Is Mumbai trendier than Delhi?

Kashika Saxena Sep 21, 2011, 12.00am IST

A recent survey based on GLM's Narrative Tracking technology has given Mumbai the global fashion ranking of 24, whereas Delhi was ranked at 39.

The two biggest metropolises of the country have always been known for their distinct fashion trends, so we spoke to designers and socialites about whether they agree with the ranking.

Kalyani Saha, VP communications & marketing, Dior couture, India

There's too much politics and especially in Delhi, the committees for selecting designers buckle under pressure and give way to designers who don't deserve to be there. Most of the designers are based in Delhi and the major ones from Mumbai have taken part in the fashion weeks in Delhi. I don't think we should give this importance again and create a bigger rift between the two organizing bodies between Delhi and Mumbai.

Siddharth Tytler, designer

That's not possible. Delhi has better designers. Mumbai has Manish Malhotra and that's about it. Mumbai has costume and movie designers. Delhi's clientele wants bling and more high-end stuff, whereas in Mumbai you can get away with sequins. Delhi is more creative, and Mumbai is more commercial. Whoever did this survey must be from Mumbai.

Monisha Bajaj, Designer

Delhi's the design centre, and I'll vouch for that. Mumbai is influenced by the film industry, but even in Bollywood, Delhi designers are followed. A lot of Mumbai designers have also moved to Delhi because of this. And the formal wear in Mumbai is a little over the top, Delhi is more classy.

Gaurav Gupta, designer

Both cities have their own quirks, but Delhi's much better because most designers are based out of Delhi. Even the designers here wear edgier stuff. The climate also has a major role in the fashion trends of both cities, but Mumbai is a lot more casual and Bollywood-driven, whereas Delhi's more sophisticated.

Rina Dhaka, designer

I agree. Mumbai is more relaxed about women dressing up. I can wear a fashionable dress in Mumbai and not be stared at by the whole world. Delhi isn't as safe. When we have shows in Mumbai, there is no stress that we're making a VIP wait. But in Delhi you feel pressurised that you're making a VIP wait.