Discuss the problems of urbanization in contemporary India.

Since cities in modern India perform diversified functions political, administrative, cultural etc., it is difficult to classify them on the basis of single activity. To define a town or a city, demographic and economic parameters are used. Till 1961 the criteria of administrative set-up and size was used. Economic characteristics were not accounted for. However, in 1961 the ‘urban areas’ was redefined as:

A place which is either a municipal corporations or a municipal area or under a town committee or a notified area committee or cantonment board or

Any place which satisfies the following criteria:— Minimum of 5000 persons.

  • At least 75% population engaged in non agricultural occupation.
  • Density, at least, 1000 persons per sq. mile.
  • Pronounced urban characteristics and amenities, large ho using settlements, civic amenities, industrial areas etc.

Urban places, in India, with population less than 1,00,000 are called ‘towns’ and more than that are ‘cities’. Metropolitan cities are those with more than one million population. It is characterized by large scale consumption, large inflow of goods, services, information and people.

The total urban population in 1901was 10million, in 1911 was 9.4 million (due to plague epidemic there was sudden fall in urban population), and in 1921,1931, 1941, urban population was 10.2, 11.1 and 12.8 million respectively. Thus, during these decades urban population remained more or less stationary. The decade 1941-51 saw a marked increase in the Urbanization and urban ward migration. Since then there has been a constant stimulus towards Urbanization.

Spatial pattern of Urbanization can be understood through the following concepts:


Bombay and Calcutta are example of cities who have urban population beyond their capacities to hold them. There is a burden on the civic amenities and infrastructural facilities which cannot cater to the overwhelming population. This is over-urbanization.


Sub-urbanization refers to urbanization of rural areas around the towns which is characterized by an increase in non-agricultural usage of land, inclusion of surrounding towns within municipal limits and intensive communication between town and surrounding areas. e.g. Delhi.

Several variations can be noticed in spatial disparities in Urbanization. Growth of urban towns and cities did not exhibit a unidirectional progress in India. Variation in the census definition of urban areas caused the decline of a number of urban centers. There is a tendency of urban domination in some states as compared to others larger urban centers have showed the tendencies towards constant population increase.

Further, there has been an increase in the number of metropolitan cities in India. 1981 census shows that 25% of the total urban population was concentrated in these 12 million plus metropolitan cities.

With economic development, urbanization inevitably occurs. Urbanization, on the other hand, accompanies economic development. Steel cities such as Jamshedpur, Bokaro have developed providing employment to a large number of tribals and rural people. An examination of the occupational pattern reveals that the proportion of urban an population engaged in the primary sector recorded an increase while the secondary sector showed a decline.

The tertiary sector recorded a slight Increase. Widespread unemployment , prevails among the unskilled and semi-skilled in the cities apart from the unemployed educated class.

Migration of the rural people to urban areas continues to be a recurrent feature. Several push and pull factors such as surplus labor, unemployment and attraction of city life contribute to this process.

The towns and cities have acquired a heterogeneous character with the process of urbanization with several caste, race, culture, class coexisting. However, these groups have tried to maintain. their own identity by maintaining close ties with their own group members, speak their own language with each other and live in clusters.

N.K.Bose explains that the migrants tend to cluster around people with whom they have linguistic, local, regional, caste and ethnic ties. Caste and Class (in terms of occupations) hierarchy exists alongside. The modem values have promoted inter-caste inter-religious marriages.


Urbanization process poses several problems to the towns and cities. The most significant is the development of the slums. Due to the inadequate civic amenities housing and over-crowding, pockets of slums spring up in the cities. These create environmental pollution; unhygienic conditions give rise to diseases and it is also a hub of criminal activities.

Shortage of housing is another recurrent phenomena which occurs with urbanization. Further, there is an absence of planned and adequate arrangements for traffic and transport It is unable to cope up with the growing population. Basic amenities are insufficient and not available to all. There is a tendency of over-urbanization in India accompanied by sub-urbanization.


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