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Identify any town or city with which you are familiar. Find out both the history of its growth and its contemporary status.
I am familiar with many towns or cities. Here I will mention only two cities.
Cities number one - London:
(a) Introduction: By 1750, one out of every nine people of England and Wales lived in London. It was a colossal city with a population of about 6,75,000. Over the nineteenth century, London continued to expand. Its population multiplied fourfold in the 70 years between 1810 and 1880, increasing from 1 million to about 4 millions.
(b) London immersed as the capital town of England. Its geographical location helped a lot in its growth and expansion apart from place of rule during the glorious period of monarchy. It became the centre of democratic government also. Most of the ministers and members of parliament work from the city.
(c) Two reasons:
(i) Migrant Population: The city of London was a powerful magnet for migrant populations, even though it did not have large factories. ‘Nineteenth century London’, says the historian Gareth Stedman Jones, ‘was a city of clerk and shopkeepers, of small master and skilled artisans, of a growing number of semi-skilled and sweated outworkers, of soldiers and servants, of casual labourers, street sellers, and beggars.’
(ii) Industrial Development: Apart from the London dockyards, five major types of industries employed large number: clothing and footwear, wood and furniture, metals and engineering, printing and stationery, and precision products such as surgical instruments, watches, and objects of precious metal. During the First World War (1914-18) London began manufacturing motor cars and electrical goods, and the number of large factories increased until they accounted for nearly one-third of all jobs in the city.
(i) This city used to rule on several countries of the world during the imperialist and colonial period. London was a great centre of educations and learning in 19th and 20th centuries.
(ii) The people from different countries of the world as well as people of different urban areas of Britain as well as other European cities also settled in this city. We can, find the people of different races, religion, languages, cultures in London.
(iii) London is a beautiful city. It is well planned and having a number of big and grand governmental and private buildings as well as commercial centres and financial institutions. It has attracted very rich people of the world to send their children for higher education and different colleges and universities.
City number two-Bombay:
History: (i) Basically these were seven islands of Bombay which were joined into one landmass only over a period of time.
(ii) In the seventeenth century, Bombay was a group of seven islands under Portuguese control. In 1661, control of the islands passed into British hands after the marriage of Britain’s king Charles II with the Portuguese princess. The East India Company quickly shifted its base from Surat, its principal western port to Bombay.
(iii) At first, Bombay was the major outlet for cotton textiles from Gujarat. Later, in the nineteenth century, the city functioned as a port through which large quantities of raw materials such as cotton and opium would pass. Gradually, it also became an important administrative centre in western India, and then, by the end of the nineteenth century, a major industrial centre.
(iv) The earliest project related with land reclamation in Bombay started in 1784. The Bombay governor William Hornby approved the building of the great sea wall which prevented the flooding of the low-lying areas of Bombay. Since then, there have been several reclamation projects.
(v) The need for additional commercial space in the mid-nineteenth century led to the formulation of several plans, both by government and private companies, for the reclamation of more land from the sea.
(vi) Bombay became the capital of the Bombay Presidency in 1819, after the Maratha defeat in the Anglo-Maratha war. The city quickly expanded. With the growth of trade in cotton and opium, large communities of traders and bankers as well as artisans and shopkeepers came to settle in Bombay. The establishment of textile mills led to fresh surge in migration.
(vii) Private companies of Britain became more interested in taking financial risks. In 1864, the Back Bay Reclamation Company won the right to reclaim the western foreshore from the tip of Malabar Hills to the end of Colaba.
(viii) Reclamation often meant the levelling of the hills around Bombay. By the 1870s, although most of the private companies closed down due to the mounting cost, the city had expanded to about 22 square miles. As the population continued to increase rapidly in the early twentieth century, every bit of the available area was built over and new areas were reclaimed from the sea.
(ix) A successful reclamation project was undertaken by the Bombay Port Trust, which built a dry dock between 1914 and 1918 and used the excavated earth to create the 22-acre Ballard Estate. Subsequently, the famous Marine Drive of Bombay was developed.
(x) By 1921, there were 85 cotton mills with about 1,46,000 workers. Only about one-fourth of Bombay’s inhabitants between 1881 and 1931 were born in Bombay: the rest came from outside. Large numbers flowed in from the nearby district of Ratnagiri to work in the Bombay mills.
(xi) Partnership of Women Workers:
Women formed as much as 23 per cent of the mill workforce in the period between 1919 and 1926. After that, their numbers dropped steadily to less than 10 per cent of the total workforce. By the late 1930s, women’s jobs were increasingly taken over by machines or by men.
(xii) Position of Bombay: Bombay dominated the maritime trade of India till mid of the twentieth century. It was also at the junction head to two major railways. The railways encouraged an even higher scale of migration into the city. For instance, famine in the dry regions of Kutch drove large numbers of people into Bombay in 1888-89. The flood of migrants in some years created panic and alarm in official circles. Worried by the influx of population during the plague epidemic of 1898, district authorities sent about 30,000 people back to their places of origin by 1901.
(i) Bombay is one of the biggest and most crowded city of India. It is called commercial capital of India. It is a port town having all types of transportation and communication facilities.
Who does not associate Bombay with its film industry? Despite its massive overcrowding and difficult living conditions, Bombay appears to many as a ‘mayapuri’ – a city of wealth.
(ii) Many Bombay films deal with the arrival in the city of new migrants, and their encounters with the real pressures of daily life. Some popular songs from the Bombay film industry speak of the contradictory aspects of the city.
(iii) Most of the people in the film industry were themselves migrants who came from cities like Lahore, Calcutta, Madras and contributed to the national character of the industry. Those who came from Lahore, then in Punjab, were especially important for the development of the Hindi film industry. Many famous writers, like Ismat Chughtai and Saadat Hasan Manto, were associated with Hindi cinema.
(iv) Bombay films have contributed in a big way to produce an image of the city as a blend of dream and reality, of slums and star bungalows.