Saturday, 4 September 2021

Impact of urbanization in the Indian society


The impact of urbanization can be seen as societies become increasingly urbanized, social emphasis is placed on achievement rather than on ascription. Urbanization has brought about many changes in various spheres of urban life, namely physical, social, psychological and cultural aspects. These aspects are elaborated here.

  1. PHYSICAL ASPECTS: Industrialization has resulted in an increase in urban population, which creates further pressure on urban land. As a result, there is a dearth of space and consequently, conges­tion and overcrowding occur. The municipal authorities are now finding it difficult to even provide the basic amenities to the migrated and the existing population of the city.

The basic amenities include consumer goods (food and water), shelter and protection from infectious diseases. Another major consequence of an increase in population is the imbalance created between demand and supply of goods and commodities. The prices rise exorbitantly due to inflation and lack of adequate supply.

  1. Growth of Cities: The decrease in the costs of transport and communication and the promise of better living in the cities are attracting more and more people to the cities. The result is the haphazard development of cities in all directions, including the skyward dire, lion in the form of taller and taller buildings that can accommodate a greater number of houses.

  2. Homelessness: Homelessness is another disturbing feature of urban life. The housing problem in the city is very acute. Many people who are unable to pay high rents remain shelterless or squatter on public property. In some other cases, people live in crowded dilapidated apartments. Some others, who are unable to pay for accommodation in the inner-city area, are forced to travel long distance, which takes away most of their time and energy. Homelessness, therefore, is a crunching problem in many large cities of the world today.

  3. Suburbanization: The continuous expansion of cities has intensified growth in the outer edges of the cities, where there is undeveloped and unoccupied land. This circumferential and radial growth has led to the growth of suburban areas. Suburbs are areas that were once villages and the cities in the spree of expansion have engulfed these villages. They are character­ized by relatively low housing density. Suburbs can be identified from the fact that they are separated from the central city in the physical aspects but are also dependent on it for employment, services, goods and administration.

  1. SOCIAL ASPECTS: Increasing the number of inhabitants in a settlement beyond a certain limit affect the relationship between them and the character of the city. The greater the number of individuals participating in a process of interaction, the greater is the potential of differ­entiation between them whereby the personal trails, the occupations, the cultural life and the ideas, and beliefs and values get widely separated.

These variations give rise to the spatial segregation of individuals. The bonds of kinship, neighbourliness and sentiments of living together for generations are absent among these people due to such diverse origins and backgrounds. In such circumstances, competition and formal control mechanisms substitute for the bonds of solidarity that hold a folk or a village society together.

  1. Family: Family as an organization is largely affected by the changes in the social structure. Change in the social structure affects the status of the family members. Many basic functions of family are now performed by secondary institutions and associations. For example, formerly child-rearing and education were the primary functions of the family. But in today’s urban centres, there is a need for dual-income families. This need compels women to move out of the house and start earning. Naturally, the function of child-rearing is then transferred to a secondary institution—the crèche or baby-care centre.

  2. Crime: Urbanization, rapid economic liberalization, growing mass political upheaval, violent conflict and inappropriate and inadequate policy are the basis of crime in urban areas. Moreover, poverty and inequality caused due to the rising expectations and a sense of moral outrage that some members of the society are growing rich have contributed to higher and growing levels of crime.

  3. Unemployment: Urbanization can lead to unemployment. People are drawn to urban areas in the false hope of a better standard of living, better healthcare and job opportunities. In fact, a high influx of people to the cities only exasperates the situation and people find themselves in a world where they are worse off. Very few people make their fortunes, and the rest must still find ways to eat and sleep while they wait for their chance. This leads to one of the most obvious effects of urbanization—the growth of crime and slums.

  4. Poverty: Gillin and Gillin have defined poverty as, ‘Poverty is that condition in which a person either because of inadequate income of unwise expenditure does not maintain a scale of living high enough to provide for his physical and mental efficiency and to enable him and his natural dependents to function fully according to standard of the society of which he is a member.’ Urban poverty was defined based on economics that is, the use of income or consumption complemented by a range of other social indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality, nutrition, the proportion of the household budget spent on food; education, school enrollment rates, access to health clinics or drinking water.

Urban poverty has a serious impact on the economic growth in India. Many people who come to city in search of livelihood end up in poverty. The result is beggary and prostitution. The government is adopting a number of plans to overcome this major problem.

  1. Prostitution: Urbanization involuntarily leads to trafficking of women and children. It is the social manifestations arising from the process of increasing transformation and is further exacerbated and compounded by the phenomena of poverty, unemployment, increasing urban/rural disparities, inveterate gender discrimination and migration. The full scale of the practice remains unknown because few women and children are prepared or able to report what has happened to them to the police or women’s organizations or NGOs.

  2. Gambling: Gambling is the wagering of money or other valuables on the outcome of a game, race, contest or other events. Although few societies, in general, have ever wholly approved of gambling, none has been able to eradicate it.

Gambling is an organized activity in many urban centres. People living in cities have a craze to make money. So, they are ready to adopt any means to make money—gambling gives them an opportunity to make instant or quick money. The hope of making quick money easily is what gives gambling its appeal. If the appeal of gambling is winning money, the thrill of it is at the risk that the wager may be lost. For many people, gambling becomes an addiction. Gambling is not confined to any economic or social stratum; it is prevalent among all the classes of society. It is also not confined to any particular sex; many women also gamble.

  1. Beggary: Many people, who migrate to the urban centres in search of better opportunities, end up as beggars. They actually are a financial burden on the country. The beggars are economically unproductive and almost remain as parasites in society. Beggary also has social and moral aspects apart from the economic side. Most beggars stay in such unhealthy environ­ment that they develop some of the other diseases. Thus, they become lithe which means to spread infectious diseases in the city.

  2. Conflicts. Every community has some tensions and disruptions. Conflict is the basic reason for any social tension in society. There may be three types of conflicts within the communityan individual conflicting with another individual; conflict within the family affecting the children and conflict between various groups. The rivalry between two individuals does not affect the society as long as it turns into a conflict between the groups with one individual claiming the support of one group of people and another claiming the support of another group. Group conflicts may arise due to various reasons such as social, economic, political, religious, lingual and regional. Conflicts in some form or other always exist in a dynamic society whether between individual and society or in the family. But as long as they do not cross the limit, the stability of the society remains unaffected.

However, ethnic violence, terrorism, communal violence, and violence between different castes have become very common nowadays in almost all cities.

  1. PSYCHOLOGICAL: The level of assimilation in the urban areas is concerned with the psychological aspects of adjustment acquiring the values, meanings, sentiments, prejudices or ideologies of that particular community. The problem of assimilation is more for migrants as they usually come from different backgrounds and struggle to settle down in the migrated cities. The rapid changes in the economical sphere with globalization and liberalization are the change in the economical sphere, with globalization and liberalization in bring­ing about many changes influencing the lives of people residing in urban areas also. Such changes are affecting the individual’s social life, including his/her family life. Consequently, stress caused due to competition and pressure of work, work and alcoholism have become the norm of the day in these urban centres.

    1. Alcoholism: Alcoholism is a chronic illness, which manifests itself as a disorder of behaviour. It is characterized by the repeated drinking of alcoholic beverages, to an extent that it exceeds social customs. In essence, alcoholism is not measured by the amount of alcohol consumed but rather by the way a person uses alcohol to deal with his life’s problems and their effects on his physical well-being.

    2. Stress: Stress is the ‘wear and tear’ a body experiences as it adjusts continually to the changing environment. It has physical and emotional effects on people and can create positive or negative feelings. As a positive influence, stress helps compel a person to act; it also results in a new awareness and an exciting new perspective. As a negative influence, it results in feelings of distrust, rejection, anger and depression, which in turn leads to health problems such as headaches, upset stomach, rashes, insomnia, ulcers, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.

  2. CULTURAL: Urban impact may occur at different parts of a region or sub-region, and in many different ways, as urban culture becomes diffused beyond a city’s political boundary. The cultural content may be disseminated by human carriers, who transmit their ideas, techniques, skills and modes of behaviour through interpersonal contacts or by mass transportation and communication. A villager, who has lived or worked in a city and returns to his/her village, is a carrier-capable of transmitting to his village kin or friends some of the cultures he/she has acquired through the urban residence. Once the urban culture is accepted or incorporated into the values and institutional system, its effects become cumulative. Thus, an unanticipated chain reaction takes place. Following are some specific impacts of urbanization.

    1. The impersonality of Social Relations: As the cities and towns grow and develop, people living in these cities also change. Cities although in reality do not destroy intimate relationships or community identities, but because of commuting long distances people hardly have any time to develop any social relations. Moreover, the modern city is in fact a mosaic of communities, which provide protection and support to their members. Thus, neighbourhood relations in an urban centre are more concerned with the members of their own community rather than their immediate neighbours.

    2. Mechanical Way of Life: In urban centres, everything is governed by time and no one can dare defy its dictates. The life of the city is totally dependent on time as it is very fast, so much so that no one has time to spare for friendship or association. Thus, every person in the urban area leads a mechanical way of life.

    3. Urban Outlook: In urban areas, the outlook of a person and his/her attitude towards things is not much determined by the heredity as by the environment. There is a difference in the rural and urban outlook. The changes particularly technological developments and economical factors make a person look at things from a different angle. In urban areas, the educa­tional background, social background, profession or occupation adopted, conditions of dwelling, etc. play a prominent role in developing an attitude towards life.

Urban people are liberated people; so they are more flexible and generous in their outlook. Moreover, people from different areas migrate and settle down in cities. This naturally provides them with a chance to intermingle with people from different regions with different cultures. Therefore, apart from being liberal, they also develop a tolerant attitude: hence, they all co-exist happily in one place.

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