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Info Change India - Urbanisation


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Exclusionary cities: The exodus that wasn’t

By Amitabh Kundu

Yes, the urban population increased more in absolute terms during 2001-11 than rural population. But, no, this is not because distressed agricultural workers are pouring into cities. It’s because census activism has tripled the number of urban centres in Census 2011. In fact, exclusionary policies are discouraging the inflow of rural poor into the mega cities


Slowdown in urban growth

By Debolina Kundu

Population growth in urban India has been decelerating over the last three decades, busting the myth of an urban explosion. Most cities with populations of 100,000-plus have recorded a significant decline in their population growth, more so the million-plus cities, suggesting that they have become less welcoming to migrants. Delhi and Chandigarh recorded less than half the growth rate of the '90s, and Mumbai district has reported a decline in absolute terms during 2001-11


The invisible migrant

By Amita Bhide

The city is harsh terrain for the roughly 100 million circular migrants who move around the country in search of livelihoods. The territoriality of policy renders them invisible, denied access to essential services such as housing, subsidised foodgrain and bank accounts. Urban policy needs to be re-imagined to understand the realities of migrants


The grime beneath the glitter

By C P Chandrasekhar

The official figure for income poverty in urban India is 21%. Multidimensional urban poverty would be more than double that, and the absolute number of urban poor continues to be over 76 million. Why are the numbers so high? Is it because the wealthy enclaves of urban India are being built on the surpluses extracted from this urban labour force, underpaid and housed in extreme deprivation?


Accelerating urbanisation widens social divides

By Rahul Goswami

By 2030, McKinsey estimates that urban India will generate nearly 70% of our GDP. Urban concentration is therefore viewed as an opportunity for further economic growth and rise in per capita income. This mercantile view is what is driving the focus on infrastructure and services to the exclusion of food and nutrition security of these urban Indians and the increasing inequality both between rural and urban India and within an expanding urban India


The ‘other’ urban India

By Partha Mukhopadhyay

The most vibrant, people-driven process of urbanisation is occurring outside the large metropolises which dominate popular imagination. It is not directed by the state, as in Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, nor developed by the private sector, as in Mundhra or Mithapur. It is the result of decisions about livelihood and residence made by thousands of individuals that coalesce to transform a ‘village’ into a census town


Transition towns

By Kalpana Sharma

The 74th constitutional amendment has on paper devolved power to urban local bodies. But even a cursory look at small towns reveals that elected representatives have little knowledge of their powers or responsibilities, cannot read or frame budgets and fail to generate local resources for planned development. Many of these towns are still transitioning between large village and town, with even basic public services absent, particularly for the poor


Size matters

By R B Bhagat

Size clearly matters in the hierarchy of urban agglomerations. Most programmes including JNNURM are directed at the big cities. Basic civic services including electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water for the poor in small cities and towns are abysmal, and hardly better than rural areas. The widening gap in income levels between rural and urban areas cannot be bridged without developing small cities and towns


Big city, big share

By Sama Khan

The well-planned development of small cities can help disperse rural migration and prevent overcrowding of the metropolitan centres. JNNURM funds can make much more of a difference in these smaller towns. But the bulk of the allocation under JNNURM goes to the three mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata


Urban territories, rural governance

By Gopa Samanta

West Bengal has the highest number of census towns among all the Indian states -- with 528 villages reclassified as such in the last decade -- but only 127 urban local bodies. The slow process of municipalisation means that most census towns, especially those with fast-growing industry, mining and commercial enterprises, are urban areas governed by gram panchayats. Such urban territories can become unregulated free-for-alls, with low taxes but haphazard development and poor infrastructure and services


The making of a mini-city

By Marie-Helene Zerah

Market forces, collusion of interest and malpractice are all involved in the growth and ad hoc development of a village into a small industrial town and then into a satellite town of a global city. Nowhere is this more visible than in Dharuhera, 70 km from Delhi


Mending what works

By Bharati Chaturvedi

Waste can be a tool to break poverty when used imaginatively. In Nainital, Haridwar, Nagpur and several other cities, public-private partnerships in solid waste management have displaced the invisible, informal-sector wastepickers and traders instead of nurturing and upgrading them


Messing around with waste

By Poornima Chikarmane and Anjor Bhaskar

Solid waste management accounts for over 50% of overall municipal budgets and manpower, but municipal authorities collect only 50% of the waste and recycle a negligible 5%. Technology and privatisation are the solutions being proposed everywhere. But public-private partnerships are turning out to be more about using public money for private profit. Is integration of informal sector wastepickers into the management of domestic and commercial municipal waste the solution?