The Daily Fix

‘India’s only global city deserves better’: Nine reads from Left & Right on the Mumbai stampede

Commentators are unanimous in demanding better policymaking that allows Mumbai to make its own decisions, although not many believe it will happen.

On September 29, a stampede on a hyper-congested bridge in Mumbai left 23 dead and scores more injured. The incident was sadly not hard to understand. With a population of more than 20 million squeezed into a tiny city that relies heavily on transport infrastructure that is decades old and has not been adequately upgraded, Mumbai is a series of disasters waiting to happen. More than 8 million people travel on the creaking Mumbai suburban local trains every day, and on average nine people die daily while using them.

In effect, every three days there is a death toll on the Mumbai local railway system as bad as the stampede on September 29, a horrific reminder of how India’s commercial hub can barely guarantee the safety of its residents, let alone help them prosper. Few believe the city will do much about it. The Mumbai spirit has gone from a symbol of resilience into a caricature, a cliche to be trotted out every time the more and more frequent disasters hit the city.

As expected, there was plenty of commentary about the disaster, as well as what Mumbai can or must do to change.

  1. “A city that aspires to be be true to its people, let alone be world class, cannot survive on spirit alone; it will eventually break down. That breaking point is nearing fast, and the sooner Maharashtra’s and Delhi’s lawmakers wake up to it, the better,” writes Sachin Kalbag, Resident Editor of the Hindu.
  2. “If Charles Correa’s vision for Mumbai had been implemented in the 1990s, the Elphinstone Road stampede could have been avoided,” says a leader in Mint.
  3. “Don’t expect Narendra Modi, who often claims he has become prime minister to do “big things”, and not “small things”, to do anything. Radical urban governance reforms are too big a thing for him, or for Mumbai’s chauvinistic politicians, to even attempt. Meanwhile, my beloved Mumbai, your agony will continue,” writes Sudheendra Kulkarni, chairman of the Observer Research Foundation in the Indian Express.
  4. “Coordination and cooperation among all public authorities concerned needs to take place not just in response to a crisis but as a regular and routine feature of the governance set-up. This requires a single coordinating agency,” write Sahil Gandhi, Assistant Professor at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai and Vaidehi Tandel, Junior Fellow, IDFC Institute, in the Hindu.
  5. Darryl D’Monte, a veteran environment journalist, in The Wire reminds us of the history of the area where the stampede happened, and how urban authorities completely failed to prepare or adapt to the transformation of Elphinstone-Lower Parel from a mill workers space to a white collar office destination.
  6. “What happened at Elphinstone could have, at least, been delayed a few years with superior crowd management techniques. There are ample models available, and ample scope of improvement. The police in India is trained to “control” crowds, not “manage” them,” writes Harnidh Kaur, a policy analyst, in Mint.
  7. “Mumbai deserves respect in the form of sustainable, democratic development in return for the way it supports the country financially. We don’t need development that has gone “crazy”! We need our voice to be heard, acted on the way Mumbai wants it to be,” writes Aditya Thackeray, president of the Yuva Sena, on NDTV.
  8. “What Mumbai needs is a scientific, data-driven overhaul of plans. Projects must be reoriented based on today’s needs and numbers, and must mandatorily provide capacity for today’s crowds. That would require a grounded and syncretic planning and execution. So long as ideas are lifted, without modification, from Shanghai or Dubai or elsewhere, hand-wringing at Mumbai’s unusual densities will continue,” says a leader in the Indian Express. “India’s only truly global city deserves better.”
  9. Activists and experts have blamed the existing structure of railways that puts Western and Central railway chiefs at the helm of suburban railway, but they are also saddled with the responsibility of long-distance trains and freight operations,” writes Aroosa Ahmed in the Hindustan Times. “From 2010, proposals from passenger activists to have an independent authority for the suburban railway network to run day-to-day services, maintain them, address commuter woes, have gone unheeded. Post the stampede, things may change.

Scroll on the stampede

We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Watch Ruchir's journey: A story that captures the impact of accessible technology

Accessible technology has the potential to change lives.

“Technology can be a great leveller”, affirms Ruchir Falodia, Social Media Manager, TATA CLiQ. Out of the many qualities that define Ruchir as a person, one that stands out is that he is an autodidact – a self-taught coder and lover of technology.

Ruchir’s story is one that humanises technology - it has always played the role of a supportive friend who would look beyond his visual impairment. A top ranker through school and college, Ruchir would scan course books and convert them to a format which could be read out to him (in the absence of e-books for school). He also developed a lot of his work ethos on the philosophy of Open Source software, having contributed to various open source projects. The access provided by Open Source, where users could take a source code, modify it and distribute their own versions of the program, attracted him because of the even footing it gave everyone.

That is why I like being in programming. Nobody cares if you are in a wheelchair. Whatever be your physical disability, you are equal with every other developer. If your code works, good. If it doesn’t, you’ll be told so.

— Ruchir.

Motivated by the objectivity that technology provided, Ruchir made it his career. Despite having earned degree in computer engineering and an MBA, friends and family feared his visual impairment would prove difficult to overcome in a work setting. But Ruchir, who doesn’t like quotas or the ‘special’ tag he is often labelled with, used technology to prove that differently abled persons can work on an equal footing.

As he delved deeper into the tech space, Ruchir realised that he sought to explore the human side of technology. A fan of Agatha Christie and other crime novels, he wanted to express himself through storytelling and steered his career towards branding and marketing – which he sees as another way to tell stories.

Ruchir, then, migrated to Mumbai for the next phase in his career. It was in the Maximum City that his belief in technology being the great leveller was reinforced. “The city’s infrastructure is a challenging one, Uber helped me navigate the city” says Ruchir. By using the VoiceOver features, Ruchir could call an Uber wherever he was and move around easily. He reached out to Uber to see if together they could spread the message of accessible technology. This partnership resulted in a video that captures the essence of Ruchir’s story: The World in Voices.


It was important for Ruchir to get rid of the sympathetic lens through which others saw him. His story serves as a message of reassurance to other differently abled persons and abolishes some of the fears, doubts and prejudices present in families, friends, employers or colleagues.

To know more about Ruchir’s journey, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Uber and not by the Scroll editorial team.