South Asia has 4 entries on the latest Forbes list, this one the top 10 Megacities of the world (thanks to Visi Tilak). Mumbai, Delhi, Calcutta and Dhaka all made the list. Karachi didn't, coming in at #12. The list is part of a broader look at 21st century cities, and a recognition that as of this year, more people will be living in cities than in rural areas, which translates, more often than not, into large numbers of alienated slum-dwellers and the potential for "failed cities" that pose problems just like failed states.
According to the writer, Elizabeth Eaves, "The future of the city is a vast Third World slum." She also looks at the backlash against recently announced efforts to transform Dharavi, Mumbai's biggest slum.
#2. Mumbai, India
Projected Population in 2015: 21.9 million
Population in 2005: 18.2 million
The city's previous name, Bombay, was discarded as a relic of colonialism. But Mumbai itself is very much a relic of the colonial era. The land it occupies was ceded to Portugal by an Indian potentate in 1534, and then passed to Great Britain in 1661. Under British rule, Bombay developed into a major metropolis. Today, vibrant Mumbai is India's commercial and entertainment capital.
#6. Delhi, India
Projected Population in 2015: 18.6 million
Population in 2005: 15 million
Delhi was the capital of the Mughal emperors, whose Red Fort still broods over the center of the city. The British took over in 1857 and later built the New Delhi government complex, which has served as India's capital since independence. Mumbai may have Bollywood, and Bangalore may style itself India's Silicon Valley, but Delhi still exudes the old imperial glamour. As a seat of power, it has been attracting migrants for centuries, and they're still coming today.
#8. Calcutta, India
Projected Population in 2015: 17 million
Population in 2005: 14.3 million
Calcutta was founded in 1690 by the British East India Company, and it later prospered as a port from which the British shipped opium to China. Under the British, Calcutta was India's capital and largest city. These days, it is neither. Its main claim to fame (other than its enormous population) is its predilection for electing communists to run its municipal government. Being true believers, they haven't done nearly as well with their economy as have the lapsed communists who run Shanghai.
#9. Dhaka, Bangladesh
Projected Population in 2015: 15.2 million
Population in 2005: 12.4 million
Along with five other megacities on this list, Dhaka was associated with a part of the British Empire. (The others are Mumbai, New York, Shanghai, Delhi and Calcutta.) Earlier, Dhaka had belonged to the Mughal Empire; nowadays, it's the capital of Bangladesh, a Muslim nation that used to be part of Pakistan. (Pakistan's current largest city, Karachi, fell just short of this Top 10, coming in at No. 12.)