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Speech by Hazar Imam at Kamla Nehru Park, Bombay 1967-11-25

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Event - 1967-11-25
Saturday, 1967, November 25
Ismaili - Salgreh Special Number 13 December 1967
H.H. The Aga Khan IV
Aga Khan IV (H.H. Prince Karim)

Speech by Mowlana Hazar Imam
Civic Reception at Kamla Nehru Park, Bombay
25th November, 1967
Your Lordship, Municipal Councillors, Citizens of Bombay

You have been very gracious in offering this reception in My honour and I am most sincerely grateful for your kind hospitality and for the warm words which you have said to Me in your address. Perhaps the fact that I have visited this great metropolis five times in the last ten years does not convey possibly enough the very special significance which Bombay has always had for Me.

Indeed ,it was in this city that My late grandfather spent many years of His childhood and it was here that He set His first step in the career which led Him eventually to the Presidency of the League of Nations. While in Bombay , I stay in the house in which My great grandmother lived for a substantial part of her life, and many of her possessions still occupy the same places that they held four generations ago.

In the western world , My family has been well-known for its connections with horse racing. But it may not be realized that the tradition was actually begun by My great grandfather here in India and more particularly here at Bombay.

Thus, this city has been the source of many activities of My family. It is, therefore, with the sense of family and personal involvement that I have watched Bombay seek to meet those immense problems which go with the fact that this is the third largest city in the world. And that it is at the same time the centre of India’s commercial and business life. I find it amazing that only three centuries ago, in the mid-sixteen hundreds, Charles the II leased this city to the East India Company for an annual rental of £10 to be paid in gold.

Today, Bombay increases its number of citizens annually, without counting people coming here from outside the Municipal boundaries, by a 100 thousand a year. This is equivalent to a substantial township. So perennially, this municipality has to find the means of feeding, housing, employing and entertaining an entire new township.

Certainly this is an immense challenge to face. Perhaps it is not generally known that Bombay’s buses transport 647 million people every year and that by so doing, the buses cover 17 million kilometres, which is about 230 times the distance from here to the moon.

It is therefore, with admiration, that I have noted the considerable improvements in the city’s appearance and the tremendous efforts being made to serve the Municipality’s ever-growing requirements. Overpasses, throughways, roundabouts, and no doubt, underpasses are becoming more and more common features of this city. Considerable acceleration is evident in the pace of the development of new housing and I was frankly struck by the substantial changes in Bombay’s skylines.

If the city has had a variegated past and is composed of citizens from all parts of India, speaking many different languages and professing many different faiths, some of the Municipal institutions, past and present, are equally colourful. Indeed it took Me some time to comprehend the meaning of civic heptarchy, the wheel-tax and the sumptuary allowance.

However, I believe, I have now mastered these terms and as a consequence, I have a better grasp of Bombay’s history and municipal organizations.
It is to this historical and friendly municipality that I address My warm thanks for this fine reception and My very sincere good wishes in facing the heavy responsibility that you have assumed

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