Urbanization in India

Pranati Datta, Indian Statistical Institute

Urbanization is an index of transformation from traditional rural economies to modern industrial one. It is a long term process. This paper endeavors to illuminate on the process of urbanization in India over a century with emphasis on level, tempo of urbanization and urban morphology using Indian Census data during 1901-2001. It will try to trace urban problems and related policy issues. At the moment, India is among the countries of low level of urbanization. Number of Urban agglomeration /Town has grown from 1827 in 1901 to 5161 in 2001. Number of population residing in urban areas has increased from 2.58 crores in 1901 to 28.53 crores in 2001. Only 28% of population was living in urban areas as per 2001 census. Over the years there has been continuous concentration of population in class I towns. On the contrary the concentration of population in medium and small towns either fluctuated or declined. The graduation of number of urban centers from lower population size categories to class I cities has resulted top heavy structure of urban population in India. India's urbanization is often termed as over-urbanisation, pseudo- urbanization. The big cities attained inordinately large population size leading to virtual collapse in the urban services and followed by basic problems in the field of housing, slum, water, infrastructure, quality of life etc. Urbanisation is a product of demographic explosion and poverty induced rural-urban migration. Urbanisation is occurring due rural push but not due to urban pull. Globalisation, liberalization, privatization are addressing negative process for urbanization in India. Policy relates to proper urban planning where city planning will consist of operational , developmental and restorative planning. Redirection of investment is recommended to develop strong economic base for small and medium city neglected so far so that migration flows are redirected to small and medium cities.

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Presented in Session 62: Population processes in urban areas