Central Data Catalog

Citation Information

Type Working Paper - Population of India
Title Urbanization
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1982
URL http://www.popline.org/node/403026
This discussion reviews the growth of India's urban population, 1901-81 and urbanization and development. In 1971 the census organizations attempted to adopt the concept of "urban agglomeration" uniformly in all the States. Thus, the complicated problem of adjusting for definitional changes has, to a considerable extent, been reduced on account of the retention of the 1961 definition of a "town" in 1971. Some methodological problems concerning the comparability of data on "town group" still exist. Largely for the purpose of maintaining comparability, the definition of urban adopted in 1971 has been continued in 1981. At the beginning of the 20th century, about 11% of India's population lived in urban places. Over the next several decades, the level of urbanization increased gradually reaching 13.9% by 1941, the last census before Independence. The post Independence period was characterized by a greater increase in the level of urbanization reaching a level of about 24% in 1981. In 1901 class 1 cities (population 100,000 and over) accounted for about 23% of the total urban population. In 1981 more than 60% of the urban population resided in cities of this size. Even in the most recent decade, 1971-81, the proportion of urban population in class 1 cities increased from 52.4 to 60.4%. Towns in size classes 2-6 experienced a decrease in their relative share of the total population. The urban population recorded at the 1981 census (excluding Assam and Jammu and Kashmir) was 156,188,507. This number constituted 23.73% of the total population of the relevant areas covered by the census. In 1981 there were 3245 agglomerations and towns. Of these, there were 216 class 1 cities. In 1981 there were 20 cities with a population of 100,000 and over that recorded a percentage increase in their population of 75% during the decade 1971-81. A critical examination of the 5-year plans indicates the predicament of the Planning Commission which recognizes the ineffective role of municipalities in urban development and the utter lack of any innovation in this regard. Factors appearing to have inhibited the success of urban development plans include: the Finance Commission which is appointed every 5 years under the Constitution of India is not required to look into the problem of local finance; the States do not generally consider urban problems as of any particular consequence and usually the Ministry of Local Self Government is considered to be unimportant; the corporations and municipalities are, by and large, centers of inefficiency, corruption, and political nepotism; and despite some bright patches, the overall picture is dismal. The linking of urban problems to housing, slums, and renewal has restricted the vision of urban development and failed to take note of the complexity of urban problems. The new 6th 5-year plan accords major importance to several aspects of urban development. These are outlined.

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