The Master of the Game: The Woman Who Won’t Let Donald Trump Mumbai by Dr Shekhar Krishnan
Publisher : Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore
Publication Date : Nov / 2016

Mumbai's real estate is amongst the most expensive per square foot anywhere in the world. Property developers dominate the city’s political economy and public culture, and are portrayed as sovereigns of its skyline, whom newspapers refer to as “the builder-politician nexus”. Builders’ unique appetites for risk make visible and channel the desires of millions for new and better futures (or to make things “great again”). Both real estate and politics are shadowy domains which demonstrate how money, time and space are sources of social power in the contemporary city. The games of language and number played with them favour those who can challenge norms, wait out long battles, and anticipate changes in the rules. Rather than seeing those who play them as gamblers, populists or moral failures, we need to understand their business strategies as the materialisation of uncertainty.

On the occasion of the U.S. Election Day, my talk will focus on the business of building a luxury high-rise Trump Tower in Mumbai and Donald Trump’s Indian apprentices and opponents, first on the disputed site of a charitable hospital and community housing trust, and later in an old textile mill compound. This presentation is part of an ongoing ethnographic and archival project on the real estate speculation and property redevelopment in post-industrial Mumbai.