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A Indian national flag is pictured in a street in Dharavi one of Asia's largest slums in Mumbai
Reuters/Danish Siddiqui
Unlikely neighbours.
CO-EXIST

Mapped: In India’s wealthiest city, the ultra-rich and slum dwellers share neighbourhoods

By Ananya Bhattacharya

Mumbai is often touted as the city of dreams, and its residents are a mixed bag of achievers and strugglers.

With $960 billion worth of total wealth, it is the only Indian name to feature among the world’s top 20 wealthiest cities, according to New World Wealth’s October 2019 report.

RankCityWealth
1New York City$3 trillion
2Tokyo$2.5 trillion
3San Francisco Bay Area$2.4 trillion
4London$2.4 trillion
5Beijing$2.1 trillion
6Shanghai$1.9 trillion
7Los Angeles$1.4 trillion
8Hong Kong$1.2 trillion
9Sydney$1.1 trillion
10Singapore$1 trillion
11Chicago$980 billion
12Mumbai$960 billion
13Toronto$900 billion
14Houston$880 billion
15Geneva$850 billion
16Frankfurt$800 billion
17Osaka$790 billion
18Seoul$780 billion
19Paris$770 billion
20Shenzhen$750 billion

Mumbai has the highest number of high net worth individuals (HNWIs), those with assets over $1 million, in the country. It’s where India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, lives. It is “the financial centre of India. It is also home to BSE, the 10th largest stock exchange in the world,” the South Africa-based wealth intelligence firm noted. “Major industries in the city include financial services, real estate, and media.”

However, the picture isn’t all that rosy, if a heat map of the concentration (share of total population) of HNWIs around every location in Mumbai is anything to go by.

Mumbai HNWI Concentration
New World Wealth
Mumbai HNWI concentration.

The neighbourhoods with significantly high concentrations of HNWIs—(1) Colaba/Cuffe Parade, (2) Churchgate, (3) Malabar Hill, (4) Altamount Road, (5) Breach Candy, (6) Worli Sea Face, (7) Bandra West, (8) Juhu, and (9) Andheri West—are peppered with pockets of less affluence.

“Mumbai’s wealthy neighborhoods are unique compared to the rest of the world in that there are sections of extreme poverty located within the wealthy neighbourhoods,” Steve Bazant, Consultant at Webster Pacific, told Quartz.

Look at Ambani’s 400,000-square-feet, 27-storey house, the world’s second-most expensive home after the Buckingham Palace, for instance. It is situated right next to the Golibar slum in central Mumbai.

As population density in cities increases, the rich and poor are both being squeezed with each other. In a photo series titled “Unequal Scenes,” Johnny Miller uses a drone to capture this dichotomy across urban neighbourhoods around the world, including Mumbai.

All this becomes more digestible when you consider this simple fact: over 41% of Mumbai’s 12.44 million habitants live in slums.