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Photo: AFP
Photo: AFP

Mumbai vs GIFT

It is worth walking through history to understand why Mumbai emerged as India's financial capital in the first place

Even as a new financial hub that seeks to challenge Mumbai is being built in Gujarat, it is worth walking through history to understand why Mumbai emerged as India’s financial capital in the first place.

Surat was the most important trading city in western India during the high noon of Mughal power. Mumbai gradually replaced it because of a confluence of several factors: a better port, quality infrastructure, protection of capital, the rule of law, good administration, and it was a magnet for the best talent. All these mattered at a time when most of India was gripped by political chaos.

Mumbai’s emergence as the commercial capital was critically dependent on not just hard infrastructure, but also softer attributes that attract people and capital.

The Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) is banking on the former when Mumbai is gridlocked. But successful financial hubs need not just good roads, but also the best people. That is what will decide the coming battle of the financial hubs.

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