CITIES-Origin & Growth of cities, City Characteristics and Types, Classification of Urban Centres in India

Cities have challenged human imagination ever since they came into existence. From the smallest to the largest, the earliest to the latest, cities have been the greatest points of concentration of humans and their social relationships. A study of the origin of urban centres by brief descriptions of cities in ancient, medieval and modern city in India. Urban centres emerged in ancient India around 2500 BC. The impressive ruins of cities like Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro are a mute testimony to this remarkable development. However, due to not able to decipher their script, our understanding of the structure of urbanism is limited and we do not know whether the rulers of Harappa were traders, priests or warriors. That is why the study of a city is taken from the sixth century BC usually referred to as the period of second urbanization.
Ancient cities have their own characteristics. The nature of the city was largely dependent on the causes of its development. According to Anderson, ancient cities have the following characteristic features. First of all, most of the cities were ruling centres. Thus, these cities were army oriented. If there was any trade practised, it was to serve the large standing armies of the ruler or the state. The authorities were mainly concerned about the needs of the army and the state. The main responsibility of the social authority was the construction of the walls and buildings and the organisation of the army. Favourable climatic conditions were the important reason for the growth of these cities. That is why in India most of the cities are situated on the banks of the major rivers and on the seashore. In ancient times, favourable agricultural conditions were mainly responsible for the development, growth and establishment of cities. The ancient cities were mainly political capitals and rulers and their ruled mainly lived in them. They were the main education centres and the places of learning. In India there are approximately 45 towns and cities which have been classified as ancient cities and they have a historical past. One thing remarkable about these historical cities is that they have a religious and cultural background.
Medieval cities were basically trade centres and mainly served the interest of the trading communities like merchants and rich businessmen. Its population was well defined and, consisted of trading people and their dependents and ancillaries. A large number of these towns developed on the sea shores. The medieval towns and cities were largely dependent on the rural areas for their different needs and purposes. The political structures of these cities and towns were autocratic in nature. Social life in these cities was largely conventional. During this period the local ruler, who himself was a major landowner, tended to invite merchants, artisans, administrators, and professionals to settle in his fortress headquarter towns. These tradesmen and professionals were landless and dependent on the ruler for protection. Not being tied to the land, they had great mobility which they could use as leverage against the ruler in case of oppression or excessive taxation. The towns and cities during this period constituted hinges linking vertically the lower levels of the settlement hierarchy with the higher ones. Their main role was to act as military headquarters in the basic antagonistic relations with neighbouring towns, most of which were at the same hierarchical level.
Modern cities in India emerged during the colonial period. They have a large population and there is social heterogeneity. The modern cities are commercial centres. They have elected governments which have specialised functions and very complicated organisations. The modern cities are cosmopolitan in character. These have a large population who are engaged in the service sectors and other related activities which were not seen in the old cities. They are the fashion hubs. In modern cities there are large numbers of voluntary organisations which serve the needs of the large number of people. Social mobility is one of the most important features of the modern cities. In these cities we find many diverse groups and each group represents a different culture of its own. The modern city represents a modern lifestyle and modern ethos. The lifestyle of the people is quite different from the rural counterparts. Modern cities have the best means of communication and transportation. Apart from this there are modern health facilities existing in these cities as well.
The growth of cities unleashed revolutionary changes. There emerged several towns and cities which the main place for the rulers and the tradesmen in those times were. Towns and cities are of many kinds – temple towns, garrison towns, seaports, political capitals or administrative towns, resort centres, industrial cities, trading centres, and other types of cities. The company towns are a unique kind of community which has nearly disappeared. Most large cities are diversified, carrying out a number of activities simultaneously.
Modern Indian cities have generally undergone a well-defined socio-historical growth process. Though the origin of cities permits a great deal of speculation, by associating it with colonial period or modernization, it transcends the realm of speculation. It is to be viewed through a definite framework both as a dynamic social process as well as a result of specific social trends. These specific social trends were unleashed in the 18th century when the rise of scientific technology and the accumulation of capital took place. In the colonial period the urban centres were used as the suppliers of number of raw materials as well as the consumers of foreign products. The old urban centres went through transformations; some became solely military centres, while others were filled with the labour force and industries. However, all the features of the western cities are not seen in Indian urban areas, even though their growth coincided with the growth of large scale industrial and modern capitalism.
According to Adna Weber, concentration of people into cities was a product of the economic forces which were becoming significant with the industrial revolution, which introduced changes such as steam power, mechanization, and trade and commerce etc. The political causes of the emergence of cities were as follows:
a.       Legislation on promoting freedom of trade.
b.      Legislation promoting freedom of migration.
c.       Centralised administration with its location of persons in civic centres.
d.      Free forms of land tenure politically defended in the city.
The social causes were as follows:
a.       Education.
b.      Amusements.
c.       Higher standards of living.
d.      Attraction of intellectual association.
e.       Habituation of an urban environment.
f.        Diffusion of knowledge of the values of city life.
In ancient India there were no great differences between a village and a town. Some essential conditions and requirements gave rise to towns and cities in India. The first and foremost factor among them is the availability of water. Second, the place must offer good possibilities of defence. The third essential condition was the easy supply of foodstuffs. Finally, communication lines were also a factor determining the fortune of the city. In the third millennium BC, the first probable urban civilisation emerged in India in the Indus valley with Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa as the most elaborate urban forms. According to Gordon the foundation of the city of Mohanjodaro was laid around 2600 BC. Then the Aryan version of urbanisation took its roots around 600 B.C. During the times of the Mahabharat, there were a number of cities like Hastinapura, Indraprastha, Mathura, Kanayakubja and cities like Kashi and Kausambi. Urbanisation during the Mughal period spread out all the way from north to south, east to west. In the colonial period the urban upsurge in India began after the First World War. The three major port towns, Calcutta, Bombay and Madras owe their existence to these developments.
The study of the morphological features of Indian city cannot be ignored or underestimated. A sociological analysis of urban life and society indicates and vindicates certain features/characteristics. They are:
  i.      Social Heterogeneity. If villages are the symbol of cultural homogeneity the cities symbolize cultural heterogeneity. In cities we find a variety of groups, each representing a typical culture. The villages are natural carriers of culture and they preserve its integrity intact and unbroken. On the other hand, in cities we find a confluence of many cultures which participate in this interplay and inter-reaction are changed or modified to some extent at least. Thus, whereas unity and uniformity are characteristic of villages, in cities we find multiplicity of cultures and viewpoints.
ii.      Individuality. On account of voluntary associations and secondary control the city dwellers develop a personality at their own. The ideals, the viewpoints and the conduct and behaviour which a city dweller encounters are so varied and contrary that the traditional moral codes cease to have much meaning for him. a city-dweller feels compelled to fashion out his own conduct of life according to his own reason and choice. On account of this whereas his behaviour tends to be arbitrary, it also bear the indelible stamp of his own personality.
iii.      Unbalanced Personality. A combination and mixture of such facts, as looseness of character and morals,, artificial environs and atmosphere, the deleterious influence of cinema and other means of entertainment, high ambition and lustful desires and general mentality of materialism, have resulted in producing unbalanced personality of city dwellers. In producing imbalance in the personality of city dweller specialization has also contributed in a big way. People are mad after false fa├žade and artificial glitter of the city. In cities the element of humanity seems to have gone out of dwellers. We find highly literate and skilled professionals like professors, doctors, lawyers etc., in the cities but we rarely come across human beings. People in city work at fast pace but the growth of their personalities is usually one sided.
iv.      Moral laxity. On account of the lack of community feeling lack of homogenous family, western influence and an atmosphere of luxury and comfort prevailing in the cities moral laxity results. In the hustle and bustle of city, there is no control over individual’s behaviour and the incidence of pre-marital and extra marital sex is fairly high in the cities. In Western cities polygamous tendencies are clearly accepted and people freely enjoy themselves.
v.      Social mobility. The most important feature of urban industrial society is its social mobility. In urban society the social status of an individual is determined not be heredity or circumstances of his birth but by his works and economic status. In cities, men are not born good but made good. Thus, in urban life a man can achieve as much progress as he wishes according to his intelligence and efforts. By the dint of hard works and good intelligence an individual can go a long way in achieving great things. In cities, the caste barriers are breaking down. The incidence of inter-caste marriages is growing. The women’s education is encouraged and the educated men and women are not orthodox in their ways and habits. In colleges and universities men and women belonging to Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya and Shudra mix up without consideration of caste of class. New social changes and reforms are accepted much better by city dwellers than rural people.
vi.      Secondary Control. In villages there is strict control over individual’s behaviour exercised by family, caste or class. But, however, in cities none of these groups exercises effective control over behaviour. In cities individual’s behaviour is controlled by such agencies as police, law courts etc. this is known as secondary control.
vii.      Voluntary Associations. Owing to a variety of professions, castes, groups and cultures in cities, there are numerous voluntary groups and associations. The primary groups like family lose their orthodox character and have  a tendency towards libertarianism.
viii.      Lack of community feeling.  Not only is there lack of community feeling in villages, there is also lack of unity and harmony in the family. In cities people are not bothered by social oblique or ridicule. They can pursue their individual ends unmindedful of what others think about them. People in cities are so busy in their individual pursuits that they have no spare time in which to think about others.
ix.      Lack of unity in family. In cities we find not only the lack of community feeling but there is also lack of unity, homogeneity and harmony in the family. Each member of the family, father, mother sisters and brothers are so busy with their own programmes that they do not interfere with each other’s independence. Each member has his own society and pursues his individual ends. Generally, the unity and cohesiveness among family members is not better than among the people staying in a hotel.
 x.      Heterogeneity. In cities all over the world we find great disparity in the living conditions of rich and poor. Whereas some person live in grand air-conditioned mansions, their needs, attended to by an army of servants, there are many who have to shelter overhead and do not have enough victuals to appease their hunger. In cities we also find great disparity in regard to food habits, living conditions, language, religious beliefs, cultural outlook, customs and traditions and social norms of city dwellers, there is great variety and contraries in this regard. In cities people of different religious persuasions, holding different ideals, inspired by different cultural customs and traditions live. Their thinking and outlook differs widely from each other. The city dwellers, as a rule are ambitious, individualistic, rationalist, materialist, secular and alert to their personal interests.
xi.      Social Disorganization. Again, owing to above mentioned features, we find social disorganization in the cities, people are dissatisfied and discontented. Many conflicts, both direct and indirect constantly ravage the mental and physical health of city dwellers. The class and status feelings, are very acute. The strikes and class conflicts are frequent. The evils of communalism and factionalism are quite rampant. The interpersonal relations and intra-familial relations are also uneasy. Thus, urban society is a divided society and urban life a divided life shot with conflicts and tensions.
xii.      Artificial life. The life in urban industrial society is artificial. In big housing complexes and broad lanes of cities we rarely come across nature, the greenery and animals. In the dense and congested localities of the cities the houses are dark and dingy and unwashed by the sunlight. The industrial chimneys are ever emitting carbon and foul gases. The atmosphere of cities is, therefore, full of pollution and harmful to breathe. In cities the air is foul, the offices and factories are artificially lit. in these conditions people in city work. In large factories the value of an individual worker is next to nothing. He is no more than an easily replaceable part of a machine. He does not even know, still less understand, the whole process of manufacture of a thing he is helping to make. For example, there will be few in motor company too much specialization of function in big metropolis that people have reached a stage where they function mechanically. In such circumstances the life becomes highly artificial and no natural healthy growth of the personality is possible. In cities we come across professors, doctors, lawyers and leader but we do not meet a man. These persons are so engrossed in their respective specialization that they know little or nothing about the work of other professionals. Thus, though their knowledge about their own field of specialization is immense they know so little about other aspects and their knowledge of man as a whole is so ludicrous that, on the whole, an unlettered urban society are completely artificial and, on the other, there is professional specialization. Those between them have altogether artificialized the life in the cities.
Even day-today life is becoming artificial. Naturalness is missing from everywhere. Every city dweller’s face has lost its natural colour and brightness, it has become a mask. Women of cities are ever busy trying to regain the lost radiance by artificial beauty-aids. People are more interested in artificial appearances than in natural health. The city dweller doctorate their drawing rooms not with dwellers get out of cities to see beautiful landscape of hills and is not that of an observer who sees in order to appreciate, but they take photos of such things with their still or movie camera. They do so in order to impress upon their friends about the places they visit. Even the means of entertainment in cities are artificial. While watching cinemas, theatre and reading of the novel man remains wholly passive.
The mannerisms and etiquettes in cities are also artificial. Even emotional expressions like laughter, smile, silence etc. are deceptive. They laugh in order to pass as civilized and urbane rather than because of any genuine relief or gladness. In cities we find a meaningless and ignorant rat race. Everybody runs not because he had some goal to reach but simply because other people are running.
People are too competition-minded to feel for each other and mutually work and co-operate. The life has become extremely boring and routine. An office clerk gets up well after the sun rise with the aid of bed tea and newspaper in front of him. He soon attends to necessities and is ready to pack off for office. After return from office he listens to cheap radio music, eats his food and retires to sleep. The story of city life can be summed up in Shakespearean vein that it is a tale told by an idiot full of sound and fury signifying nothing.
Besides these characteristics, peculiarities of marital life, dynamic life i.e., dynamism in urban life, high incidence of crime and formation of voluntary associations in urban centres are worth mentioning.

The cities are broadly differentiated by the geographical condition makeup of population an each city are unique from the other. We can classify the cities on the basis of some fundamental features shared by all cities. Thus, the city of one class also has numerous diverse features as well. On the basis of broad common feature on the basis we can classify them into following types.
  i.      Production centres. Generally, more important city of the world is industrial town. Consequent upon industrial revolution the urban population all over the world has increased considerably. In India the majority of cities having population of one lakh or more are industrial term. According to the kind of population the population can be classified into two categories.
a.       Primary production centre. In this places material or industrial user are produce for example, mimic centres where oil, coal, iron etc. are production centre. Though population of such places is usually not very large but by elaborate transport system this centre is connected with other places among such towns in India are Nellore, Masulipatnam, Ranchi, Guwahati, Mysore, Kolar etc.
b.      Secondary Production centre. In this centre the raw material obtain form primary production centre are used for manufacturing a variety of goods. As such places population is large and keeps growing. For example, Firozabad is famous for glass bangles, Kanpur for leather goods, Moradabad for brush wash etc. in some cities one types of primary and in some others numerous things are produced.
ii.      Centre of trade and commercial. Generally, the cities are production centres of trade and commerce but in some cities trade and commerce is the dominant feature and production in secondary. For example- though Mumbai is a major production centre it is a far bigger centre of trade and commerce generally the cities situated on the sea coast and those which are ports are centres of trade and commerce.
For example –Cochin, Tuticorin etc. indeed there are many innate town which are consider as centres of trade and commerce.
iii.      Capitals and administrative centres. All city which have happen to be capitals of state have shot into prominent there important is not due to their industry or business but due to there being to the capital indeed. Once the places are made the capital business and industry automatically grows there. Before the process of industrialisation and globalisation, the capital cities were the most important cities of the world.For example, Lucknow, Bhubaneshwar, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai etc.
iv.      Health and recreation centres. Many towns have very health climate owing to their particular geographic location and climatic condition. Therefore, people from plains gather in great numbers to such town. In order to attract more tourists to such places, municipal and state authorities do everything possible to beautify such places and make available amenities. The livelihood of the people of these places greatly depends upon tourism.
v.      Religious and Cultural centres. In India where, religious sentiments dominants many towns have become famous and develop into big cities on account of their religious values and important. For example, Amritsar, Ajmer, Rameswaram etc. Apart from the religious significance there are many cities which are important for the historical sites and monuments like Agra, Chittorgarh, Nalanda and Taxila etc.
vi.      Diversified cities. Besides the cities which fit into one or the other of the above mention categories, there are some town which fit into none of the category. They may be holy but it is not the fundamental reason for their eminence is not holiness. They may also be the capital cities but their fundamental reason for growth may be other factors. Thus, it will not be correct to put them into some specific category. Such towns and cities are accordingly referred to as the diversified towns. For examples, Varanasi.

Cities are classified into various ways. Gist and Halbert have given a six-fold classification of a city based on its functional concept as follows:
              i.      Production centres, e.g., Ahmedabad for textiles and Jamshedpur for steel.
            ii.      Centres of trade and commerce, e.g., Mumbai and New York.
          iii.      Political capitals, e.g., New Delhi and London.
          iv.      Cultural centres, e.g., Kanchipuram and Varanasi.
            v.      Resort cities, e.g., Shimla and Ooty.
          vi.      Diversified cities: they have varied interests and are not outstanding in any particular activity.
E.E. Muntz has classified the cities based on the principal activity or activities earned by them. He has given the following classification:
              i.      Defense cities. These are the cities that were built for defense purpose with walls around them. For example, Bidar.
            ii.      Commercial cities. For example, Mumbai and New York
          iii.      Manufacturing or industrial cities. For example, Jamshedpur and Ahmedabad.
          iv.      Religious cities.For example, new Delhi and London.
            v.      Resort cities.  For example, Shimla and Ooty.
          vi.      Educational cities. For example, Oxford and Cambridge.
The above two classifications have made an attempt to distinguish the cities but most of the cities of today perform multiple activities. So, it is very difficult to demarcate all the cities as one or the other kind of city. Take for instance, Delhi, which is a political centre, a commercial centre, an educational centre and also a resort centre. This city performs numerous functions. Thus, it is difficult to classify all the cities.
Work Cited
Rural and Urban Sociology (pp. 209-244) ~ Link
Urban Sociology-P.K. Kar (pp. 4-54) ~ Link
Urban Sociology-Samir Dasgupta (pp. 9-17)
Lewis Mumford-What is a city ~ Link
IGNOU-Unit-3 City and Metropolis ~ Link
IGNOU-Unit-9 Typologies of Cities ~ Link

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