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Regional Variation in Urbanisation in India and the Emergence of New Towns

Mahalaya Chatterjee ()

ERSA conference papers from European Regional Science Association

Abstract: India, a country with a vast land area and population, has crossed the 30% level only in terms of urbanization as per its latest census in 2011. The Census authority identifies urban areas in the country on the basis of either of the following two criteria: a) All the settlements having any form of local government are called statutory towns; b) Apart from these statutory towns, Census authority of India declares some areas as towns if they satisfy the following three criteria simultaneously: i) size criterion: the population of the area must be at least 5000. ii) density criterion: the density of population in the area should be at least 1000 persons per sq. kilometre. iii) occupation criterion: at least 75 percent of the male workforce should be engaged in the non-agricultural activities. Towns identified by the second criterion (b) are called census towns. The average level of urbanisation hardly says anything about the regional diversity in urbanisation in the country. The smaller city states (e.g. Delhi, Chandigarh and Goa) have urbanisation level nearly 100 percent. Among the large states the highest level of urbanisation in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, followed by western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat. This regional diversity in the level (and also rate) of urbanisation partly resulted by the colonial legacy, partly by the forces affecting the process of urbanisation and partly by the post-independence experience of India in economic growth and development. India was rightly designated as a ?land of villages' for a long time as a major part of its Gross Domestic Product came from primary sector and more than two-third of the population was engaged there. But the picture started to change after 1991, when the country started to move from the centrally planned model to the globalised-liberalised era. For the last twenty years, the growth in the country has been through the expansion of tertiary activities, especially the service sector. Now, more than 60% of the Gross Domestic Product is generated in the urban centres. The impact of such a change is manifested in the rate of urbanisation in the last decade. For the first time in the post-independence period, the rate of growth of urban population has surpassed their rural counterpart. Another manifestation is in the emergence of new census towns in the country. The last decade saw the emergence of more than 2500 new towns, which is more than hat emerged in the preceding century (1901-2001). But a look into the state-level data, show some interesting variations. This paper will look into the spatial spread of new towns from a perspective of regional economy and attempt to provide some explanation of the wide-spread variation.

Keywords: urbanisation; regional growth and development; spatial variation (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: R12 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2014-11
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