Sep-2013: Mumbai often finds itself in the news for the wrong reasons. But those who know the city well also know there’s a lot that’s good about it. It has an energy and a can-do spirit unlike any other in India. It also has a heart.
This is a city that gives back, quite literally. In a country that’s embarrassingly high on the corruption index, Mumbai has been rated the second most honest city in the world.
Here’s how. A wallet is deliberately left lying on the road — to see how many people who stumble on it return it to its owner. Mumbaikars returned nine out of 12 wallets found on the road, each carrying Rs 3,000 in cash—not a small amount. The survey was carried out by Reader’s Digest in 16 cities across four continents with 192 lost wallets dropped in crowded places like shopping malls, sidewalks and parks. Each of the wallets contained a mobile phone number, business cards and a family photo.
Those carrying out the experiment waited to see how many people from each of these cities called back to return the wallet, containing $50 or its equivalent in local currency. The experiment saw around 47% or nearly half of the wallets being returned. Helsinki, the capital of Finland, topped the list of honest cities, returning 11 of the 12 wallets.
Lisbon in Portugal was the most dishonest city with just one wallet returned, and that too by a couple on a holiday from the Netherlands. Madrid in neighbouring Spain did only one better: two wallets were returned. New York scores more in honesty than London, Zurich.
While Helsinki and Mumbai emerged the most honest cities, London fared badly with only five of the 12 wallets left in public places returned. New York proved a lot more honest: 8 of 12 wallets were returned.
In Zurich—the city that gave the world secret numbered accounts and where billions lie salted away in bank vaults—only four out of 12 wallets were returned. Five of the 12 dropped wallets were returned in Warsaw and six in Berlin. In Prague, four wallets made it back. Only a third of those dropped in Bucharest and Rio got back to their owners. In comparison, eight of the 12 wallets dropped were returned in Budapest. Residents of Amsterdam returned seven out of 12 wallets.
Needless to say, this is a somewhat simplistic measure of honesty. Most of all, it’s about the honesty of the man/woman on the street. What about those people whose feet barely ever touch the road? They would need a different index.