Maharashtra’s young cabinet minister Aditya Thackeray’s idea of keeping malls, shops and eateries open all night and day in the city of Mumbai has become a new bone of contention between former alliance partners Shiv Sena and BJP and this radical policy too like most other government decisions is now riddled in bipolar politics in the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and state government.
Aditya has been talking about this concept for a long time and any progressive citizen who has travelled around the world would naturally support this policy of expanding business opportunities and transactions in India’s financial capital by keeping certain establishments open whole day and whole night, all days of the week, that is 24/7.
One takes this stand of supporting the idea of keeping certain establishments open in Mumbai 24/7 especially because Aditya Thackeray has specifically made it clear that the decision to keep Mumbai open 24/7 has nothing to do with pubs, bars or liquor shops getting in extension in their business hours.
It’s about keeping malls, general shops and eateries open so that those working in night shifts or arriving at Mumbai airport or city’s railway stations late at night have some facilities that they can depend on. He has also made it clear that the eateries or malls that would be kept open 24/7 will be from non-residential areas (such as the mill compounds in central Mumbai, or business districts of Mumbai, where there is no residential buildings) so citizens will not get disturbed late at night.
The BJP has taken objection to this policy and openly opposed it. The BJP has linked it with keeping pubs and liquor bars staying open all night and has said that it will disturb residents late at night in parts of the city. Both objections seem pointless because as Aditya has explained to media in his interactions this decision is not applicable to liquor sale or pubs and bars at all!
Many cities in India are today struggling to cope up with growing population and especially growing number of vehicles. Cities are chocking with traffic jams mainly because everybody gets out of their homes at around the same time and returns home at around the same time of the day (a time slot normally known as “peak-hours”) India now needs to think of some new radical ideas of how this tradition of “set work hours” can be broken and work hours can be staggered even into late night. So a few lakh citizens can work in second shift (afternoon to night) and few lakh can work in third shift (night to early morning). This means taking the burden off streets, suburban trains and public busses during day time or “peak hours”. If cities start working 24/7, it will be beneficial for all.
Today we have a situation where entire city infrastructure is idle (roads, flyovers, rail tracks vacant) for eight hours of the night while they are extremely overburdened during the day. Why can’t this be changed by starting to keep the city open at night? The concept should not be just restricted to pubs, bars and restaurants, it should extend to all spheres of life. If Airports and railway stations can work 24/7, why cannot other establishments do the same?
As we enter yet another new decade of the 21st century, a section of our government bureaucracy and politicians need to be pulled out of their old and backward thinking, not just Mumbai, many cities in India must try staying open 24/7.