Urbanization in India


Urbanization is the movement of people from rural to urban areas, and the result is the growth of cities. It is also a process by which rural areas are transformed into urban areas. Urbanization is a process that has occurred or is occurring in nearly every part of the world that humans have inhabited. People move into cities to seek economic opportunities. Urbanization is measured by the percentage of people, who are urban in a society, a region or the world. Urbanization, therefore, summarizes the relationship between the total population and its urban component. That is, it is mostly used as a demographic indicator or in the demographic sense, whereby there is an increase in the urban population to the total population over a period of time.

The concept of urbanization has a dual meaning: demographically and sociologically. The demographic meaning refers to the increasing proportion of the population in a country or a region that resides in cities. Sociologically, it refers to the behaviour, institutions and materialistic things that are identified as urban in origin and use. In other words, it is a social process which is the cause and consequence of a change in the man’s way of life in the urban milieu.

In the urban areas, one can find a range of features like the loss of primary relationships and increasing secondary group relationships, voluntary associations, plurality of norms and values, weaker social control, increasing secularization and segmentary roles, a greater division of labour, greater importance of the mass media and the tendency for the urbanites to treat each other instrumentally. Sociologists believe that all these are caused due to large number of population, which is heterogeneous, having come from various backgrounds. Thus, the more denser, larger and heterogeneous the community the more accentuated are the characteristics associated with the urban way of life. Another aspect is that in the social world, institutions and practices may be accepted and continued for reasons other than those that originally brought them into existence and that accordingly the urban mode of life may be perpetuated under conditions quite foreign to those necessary for its origin.


  1. John Palen in demographic terms defines Urbanization as ‘an increase in population concentration; organizationally it is an alteration in structure and functions.’

  2. Eldridge substantiates this view. According to him, urbanization involves two elements such as the multiplication of points of concentration and the increase in the size of individual concentration.

  3. Thompson Warren in Encyclopedia of Social Sciences states ‘Urbanization is the movement of people from communities concerned chiefly or solely with agriculture to other communities, generally large whose activities are primarily concerned with the government, trade, manufacture or allied interests.’

  4. According to the definition of ‘Vidal de la Blache’, A city is the social organization of much greater scope, it is the expression of a stage of civilization which certain localities have not achieved and which they may perhaps never themselves attain.”

  5. As per ‘Burgel’, “The Transformation process of rural area in to an urban area is known as Urbanization. This process have immense impact on Rural Economic Structure.”

  6. According to ‘Bogue’, “About 70.00% of the increase in city dwellers come from reproductive change (Natural increase) and about 30.00% from Rural-Urban Migration.”

  7. According to Anderson, ‘Urbanization is not a one-way process, but it is a two-way process. It involves not only movement from villages to cities and change from agricultural occupation to business, trade, service and profession, but it involves change in the migrants attitudes, beliefs, values and behavior pattern.’

From the above definitions, one can conclude that sociologists meant urbanization as a process of diffusion of certain modernizing traits or characteristics in a population. It is often considered to be a causal factor of modernization. Thus, urbanization can be summarized as a process which reveals itself through temporal spatial and sectoral changes in demographic, social, economic, technological and environmental aspect of life in a given society.


  1. Urbanism: Urbanism is the way of living or characteristics of lifestyle of people living in urban areas. Urbanization and Urbanism used as synonyms but they are different terms. Urbanization is a process of development of urban areas while Urbanism is the way of living of the inhabitants of urban area. That influenced by not only sociological and psychological dimensions but also from educational, technological, industrial, historic, philosophical, legal, military, political, scientific and other dimensions.

  2. Urban Population: Urban Population refers to the population living in urban areas. Areas that come under the definition of “Urban Area.”

  3. Urban Agglomeration: As per Census of India 2001, “A town with its outgrowth (it may be viable unit like a village or hamlet etc.) is treated as an integrated urban area and is designated as an urban agglomeration.” The Agglomeration Constitutes:

    1. A city/a Town with a continuous outgrowth, the outgrowth being outside the statutory limits but falling within the boundaries of the adjoining village or villages.

    2. Two or more adjoining towns with their outgrowths, if any.

    3. A city and one or more adjoining towns with or without outgrowths, all from a continuous spread.


India is not an exception to the world-wide trend of mass exodus of people from rural areas and their settlement in urban centres. In India, rural-urban migration began during the thirties of the twentieth century. The pace of such migration increased manifold during the post-independence period. There is an increasing concentration of people in small, medium and large-sized towns, leading to a spatial expansion of the urban settlements. In addition, new towns centering around the setting up of new factories are coming up in increasing numbers.

Sociologists have explained the global trend towards rural-urban migration in different ways. The explanatory causes may be classed under two categories: the push factor and the pull factor. In some cases, the situation in the countryside may be so inhospitable as to force people to leave their hearth and home. Sociologists characterize such factors as ‘push factors’. The people living in the countryside may also be attracted by better opportunities of employment and good living (these may also be fancied rather than real) in urban areas and decide to move out. Sociologists characterize such factors as ‘pull factors’.

It is difficult to say for certain which of these factors plays a more decisive role in rural-urban migration. On the contrary, it is more probable that both the factors are responsible for influencing the decision of the people to migrate. We may enumerate briefly the ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors which are operative in the Indian situation. Among the ‘push’ factors the following are particularly important.

Firstly, man-land ratio in the countryside has changed to the disadvantage of the farmers, so that the arable land available to them has diminished considerably. This has severely restricted the scope for expansion of employment opportunities and created scarcity in food supply.

Secondly, the rate of increase of public investment in the countryside has not kept pace with the rate of increase of population. This has further aggravated the problem of food scarcity and restriction in employment opportunities.

Thirdly, expansion of primary education in the countryside, paradoxically enough, has not produced, in many cases, the desired result of benefiting the community and the persons who are so educated.

In traditional societies, including India, literacy is a status symbol. As such, to make a person literate has the effect of alienating him from his ancestral occupation, because literacy tends to give him the impression that manual work or farming operations are not proper callings of a literate person. They, therefore, migrate to urban areas in search of new ‘pastures’. On the other hand in India, farming provides seasonal employment. Naturally, those who are engaged in farming are forced to move to urban areas in search of odd jobs when there is not enough work in the field. In course of time, some of them stay on in the periphery of towns and cities. Among the ‘pull factors’, mention may be made of the following:

Firstly, the comparative affluence and the existence of varied and numerous employment opportunities in towns and cities attract large numbers of people from the countryside.

Secondly, in the cities and towns, there is heterogeneity, not simply in matters of employment, but also in patterns of recreation, in education, in modes of transportation, in styles of toughing and styles of thought as well as in kinds of stimulation. In contrast to life in the countryside which is dull, monotonous and uneventful, life in towns and cities attract people from the countryside.

Thirdly, the partition of the country on the eve of India’s independence led to a mass exodus of people from East Bengal and West Punjab. Millions of uprooted people without homes and jobs, for obvious reasons, preferred to stay in towns and cities proper or in the peripheries in order to eke out a living. They had no other alternative. As a consequence, the concentration of population in cities and towns all over India, West Bengal and Punjab towns, in particular, swelled all of a sudden.

Fourthly, it is pointed out that in India, family and village ties are sufficiently strong to create an obligation upon the successful migrant to help sponsor new entrants to the city. The cumulative effect of this has been that it (the upswing in urban ward migration) has now progressed to a point where the residents of almost every village have relatives or fellow villagers in at least one (and possibly several) of the major cities.

Western countries also experienced urbanization as a sequel to the expansion and diversification of industries. But urbanization in these countries was entirely different in nature from that in India. As in India, people living in rural areas were attracted to cities and towns by the prospect of better employment opportunities and higher income. In most cases, their dreams were fulfilled. They got jobs and were successful in increasing their income. Moreover, there were also opportunities of getting trained and acquire necessary skills which helped them not only to make themselves employable but also to become competent and skilled factory hands. As a result, they could identify themselves completely with the urbanities and they no longer remained outsiders’.

In India, the picture is just the opposite. The expectation with which the people flock in large numbers from rural areas to towns and cities remains unfulfilled in most cases. They fail to get jobs or to acquire the necessary skill to make themselves employable as factory hands. They are, thus, forced to live in urban slums or in slums adjoining city areas. Physically, they might be living in cities and towns. But they do not belong to cities and towns in the sense that they do not share in the lives of city people. They do not have the necessary income to participate in various urban activities-recreational, educational and civic. Their only goal is to earn some money and just stay alive. They have no means either to contribute to urban life or to benefit from urban amenities. Some sociologists have characterised such a situation as subsistence urbanization.

It is alarming to note that most of these people are unlikely to escape from the subsistence urbanization level of living even after a long period of stay in cities and towns.


India is largely a rural country, with about 72 per cent of its population living in rural villages. The growth of urban population as well as the pace of urbanization has been generally slow in India compared to the other Asian countries. The urban population rose from 17.3 per cent in 1951 to a mere 28 per cent in 2001 (provisional). An analysis of the growth rate of urban population in India in 1981-91 indicates that 58 per cent of this growth was due to natural increase (births minus deaths) and 42 per cent due to rural-urban migration. It may be understood that though urban population in India may be only 28 per cent, this seemingly low percentage is a large population, number-wise. Therefore, the quality of life in urban areas means the lives of a large number of people. Therefore, this population group requires urgent consideration.

The classification of an area as an urban unit in the Census of India 2001 is based on the following definitions:

  1. All places are declared by the state government under a statute us a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified (own area committee, etc).

  2. All other places that simultaneously satisfy or are expected to satisfy the following criteria:

    1. A minimum population of 5,000.

    2. At least 75 per cent of the male working population engaged in non-agricultural economic pursuits.

    3. A density of population of at least 400 per square kilometre (1009 per square mile).

Cities are in the fore front of socioeconomic development in India at the present time. They are the focal point of a government’s revenue earning nowadays. More than half of the gross national product comes from the urban areas, especially the metropolitan cities, where service industries including the BPO companies are making huge profits. Urbanization is also inducing and promoting modernization of agriculture, which is affecting the life of each and every Indian.

Urbanization was earlier seen as the best way to modernize, as it is the transfer of population from the hinterlands to urban centres that stimulates the needs and provides the conditions needed for the take off of any economical activity. According to Lerner, cities are considered as places that produce machine tools of modernization. But today, it is clear that uncontrolled urban growth may prevent steady progress. Cities are no longer seen as the centres of change and progress but the centres of crisis (Evers). Great cities have always had the power to intensify the triumphs and tragedies of human existence.

Thus, the world’s demographic, environmental and social problems are most evident in urban places, especially in the cities belonging to poor countries. The cities have grown so rapidly that the problems outweigh the benefits of industrialization and modernization. The most common urban problem is the increasing population, which is the cause for housing problems, environmental pollution and urban conflict.


Urbanization as a structural process of change is generally related to industrialization but it is not always the result of industrialization. Urbanization results due to the concentration of large-scale and small scale industrial and commercial, financial and administrative set up in the cities; technological development in transport and communication, cultural and recreational activities. The excess of urbanization over industrialization that makes it possible to provide employment for all persons coming to urban areas is, in fact, what sometimes leads to over urbanization. In India, a peculiar phenomenon is seen: industrial growth without a significant shift of population from agriculture to industry and of growth of urban population without a significant rise in the ratio of the urban to the total population. While in terms of ratio, there may not be a great shift from rural to urban activities, but there is still a large migration of population from rural areas to urban areas. This makes urban areas choked, there is lack of infrastructural facilities to cope with this rising population.

Urbanization implies a cultural and social psychological process whereby people acquire the material and non-material culture, including behavioural patterns, forms of organization, and ideas that originated in or are distinctive of the city. Although the flow of cultural influences is in both directions – both toward and away from the city – there is substantial agreement that the cultural influences exerted by the city on non-urban people are probably more pervasive than the reverse. Urbanization seen in this light has also resulted in what Toynbee has called the “Westernization” of the world.

The idea of urbanization may be made more precise and meaningful when interpreted as aspects of diffusion and acculturation. Urbanization may be manifest either as intra-society or inter-society diffusion, that is, urban culture may spread to various parts of the same society or it may cross cultural or national boundaries and spread to other societies. It involves both borrowing and lending. On the other side of the diffusion coin is acculturation, the process whereby, individuals acquire the material possessions, behavioural patterns, social organization, bodies of knowledge, and meanings of groups whose culture differs in certain respects from their own. Urbanization as seen in this light is a complex process –

The history of urbanization in India reveals, broadly four processes of urbanization at work throughout the historical period. These are:

  1. The emergence of new social relationships among people in cities and between people in cities and those in villages through a process of social change.

  2. The rise and fall of cities with changes in the political order.

  3. The growth of cities based on new productive processes, which alter the economic base of the city.

  4. The physical spread of cities with the inflow of migrants, who come in search of a means of livelihood as well as a new way of life.

Urbanization as a Socio-Cultural Process

Cities are social artifacts and stand apart from the countryside, in terms of the higher degree of their acceptance of foreign and cross-cultural influences. It is a melting pot of people with diverse ethnic, linguistic and religious backgrounds. Seen in this light, urbanization is a socio-cultural process of transformation of folk, peasant or feudal village societies.

India has had a continuous history of urbanization since 600 BC. Over this period, three major socio-cultural processes have shaped the character of her urban societies. These are Aryanization, Persianization and Westernization.

The Aryan phase of urbanization generated three types of cities:

  1. The capital cities, where the secular power of the Kshatriyas was dominant.

  2. The commercial cities dominated by the vaishyas.

  3. The sacred cities, which, for a time, were dominated by Buddhists and Jains, who were Kshatriyas, and later by brahmins.

With the advent of the Muslim rules from the 10th century AD, the urban centres in India acquired an entirely new social and cultural character. The city became Islamic; Persian and later Urdu was the official language of the state and Persian culture dominated the behaviour of the urban elite.

The impact of 150 years of British rule in India, that is, Westernization, is clearly visible in various aspects of city life today – in administration, in education, and in the language of social interaction of the city people and their dress and mannerisms. Urbanism is clearly identified with westernisation.

Urbanization as a Political – Administrative Process

The administrative and political developments have played an important role in urbanization in the past and they continue to be relevant today. From about the 5th century BC to the 18th century AD, urban centres in India emerged, declined or even vanished with the rise and fall of kingdoms and empires. Patliputra, Delhi, Madurai and Golconda are all examples of cities that flourished, decayed, and sometimes revived in response to changes in the political scene. The administrative or political factor often acts as an initial stimulus for urban growth; which is then further advanced by the growth of commercial and industrial activities.

Urbanization as an Economic Process

Urbanization in modern times is essentially an economic process. Today, the city is a focal point of productive activities. It exists and grows on the strength of the economic activities existing within itself. It is the level and nature of economic activity in the city that generates growth and, therefore, further urbanization.

Urbanization as a Geographical Process

The proportion of a country’s total population living in urban areas has generally been considered as a measure of the level of urbanization. Population growth in urban areas is partly a function of natural increase in population and partly the result of migration from rural areas and smaller towns. An increase in the level of urbanization is possible only through migration of people from rural to urban areas. Hence, migration or change of location of residence of people is a basic mechanism of urbanization. This is essentially a geographical process, in the sense that it involves the movement of people from one place to another.

There are three major types of spatial moments of people relevant to the urbanization process. These are:

  1. The migration of people from rural villages to towns and cities leading to macro-urbanization.

  2. The migration of people from smaller towns and cities to larger cities and capitals leading to metropolisation. It is essentially a product of the centralization of administrative, political and economic forces in the country at the national and state capitals. It is also a product of intense interaction between cities and the integration of the national economy and urban centers into a viable independent system.

  3. The spatial overflow of metropolitan population into the peripheral urban feigned villages leading to a process of sub-urbanization. It is, essentially, an outgrowth of metropolization and here there is a reverse flow of people from the city to the countryside.


Levels of urbanization

The level of urbanization of the country as a whole or of any state within it may be measured from data provided by the Census. A basic problem, at this stage, relates to the Census definition of an urban place. If we use the Census data as they are, inter-state variations in the level of urbanization would in part be due to the variability of the Census definition. To eliminate this problem, the small and mini towns with a population of less than 20,000 are excluded from the analysis below. There is a strong consensus of opinion that places with 20,000 plus towns account for 86.4 per cent of the total urban population as defined by the Census.

In India, towns serve as focal points of socio-economic change. The rural population served by a town can be regarded as an indication of its effectiveness. The larger the rural population served by each town, on average, the lower the level of urbanization. When no rural population is served, urbanization is total and no further urbanization is possible. There is, however, no upper limit to the number of people that an urban centre may serve.

Another alternative measure of urbanization has to do with the distance that rural people have to travel to the nearest urban centre. The greater the distance that they have to travel, the lower the level of urbanization, because such a situation indicates that urban centres are spaced further apart and are fewer in number. In rural India, urban places are commonly visited on foot, by bicycle or by bullock cart. In any case, distance is of paramount importance in terms of the time and effort spent on reaching an urban place. In a state with a well developed system of urban places, people will have to go smaller distances.

  1. Urban Population Ratio

People living in towns and urban agglomerations with a population of 20,000 or more accounted for 3.16 per cent of India’s total population is more than 377 million in 2011. There are significant variations in the level of urbanization between the different states in India. Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have more than 30 per cent of their population living in towns; they are the most urbanized states in India. The least urbanized state in Arunachal Pradesh, which has no towns with a population of 20,000 or more. The least urbanized states have the following characteristics:

  1. They are hilly or mountainous.

  2. They have a larger proportion of tribal population

  3. They are generally inaccessible with respect to metropolitan cities and the main arterial railways connecting them.

  1. Rural Population Served by Urban Centres

The larger the number of towns, the more urbanized an area. However, the number of towns has to be related to either the population or the area of the territorial units. This measure of urbanization may be expressed as the number of towns per million populations. The population threshold of a town will depend on the level of urbanization-high levels of urbanization resulting in lower population thresholds and vice versa. Lower population thresholds are also, concomitantly, a product of higher per capita incomes and consequently higher levels of services rendered to the rural population.

  1. Distance to the Nearest Town

The number of towns could be related to the area of a state or any other territorial unit. The simplest approach is to measure the density of towns per unit area. The reciprocal of density, namely, the area served by a town in keeping with the tradition in urban geography, where urban centres are thought of as the foci of their rural hinterlands. The size of the hinterland is an indication of development, for towns with larger hinterlands, the town’s services would be thinly spread over a larger area, while the converse would be true of towns with smaller hinterlands.

  1. Composite Index of Urbanization

The three criteria of urbanization discussed above reveal widely different macro-spatial patterns. In order to arrive at an overall picture, the three measures may be combined into a composite index of urbanization. The first problem has the relative importance of each criterion that needs to be specified. A second problem has to do with the units of measurement – the first criterion is measured in terms of percentages, the second in terms of population, and the third in terms of distance. These units are not comparable. A third problem has to do with the fact that the percentage of urban population is inversely related to the other two criteria.

The problems of unplanned urban growth

Unplanned urban growth in India has resulted in several problems that impact the quality of life for residents. Here are some of the key problems:

  1. Inadequate Infrastructure: 

As cities in India grow rapidly, the demand for services like water supply, sewage systems, and transportation increases. Unfortunately, the existing infrastructure often cannot keep up with this demand, leading to inadequate services and frequent breakdowns. This results in poor living conditions for many residents, as well as congestion, pollution, and health hazards.

  1. Environmental Degradation: 

Rapid urbanization in India has led to the destruction of natural habitats, green spaces, and agricultural land, which has resulted in environmental degradation. The rise in air pollution, noise pollution, and the loss of natural resources such as water and energy has made urban areas less livable and less sustainable.

  1. Informal Settlements: 

Due to a lack of affordable housing, many people in India live in informal settlements, such as slums and shantytowns. These settlements often lack basic amenities like sanitation, clean water, and electricity, making living conditions extremely difficult. Moreover, many informal settlements are located in areas at risk of natural disasters like flooding and landslides, putting residents in danger.

  1. Traffic Congestion: 

As more people move to urban areas, the number of vehicles on the road increases, leading to traffic congestion. This results in delays, increased travel time, and air pollution, which have negative impacts on people’s health and the environment.

  1. Social Inequality: 

Rapid urbanization has exacerbated social inequality, with the poor being disproportionately affected. Many low-income families are unable to access basic services like healthcare, education, and housing, leading to poor living conditions and a lack of opportunities.

  1. Water scarcity: 

Rapid urbanization in India has led to increased demand for water, which has put a strain on existing water resources. Many urban areas face water shortages, and residents often have to rely on expensive and unreliable sources of water.

  1. Waste management: 

As cities in India grow, the amount of waste generated also increases. Unfortunately, waste management systems have not kept pace with this growth, leading to issues such as overflowing landfills, improper disposal of hazardous waste, and a lack of recycling facilities.

  1. Urban heat islands: 

The growth of concrete and asphalt in urban areas has led to the creation of “urban heat islands”, where temperatures can be several degrees higher than surrounding areas. This has negative impacts on people’s health and the environment.

  1. Land use conflicts: 

As cities in India grow, there is increased pressure on land use, which can lead to conflicts between different groups. For example, industrial development may encroach on agricultural land, or housing development may displace informal settlements.

  1. Governance challenges: 

The rapid pace of urbanization in India has created governance challenges, including a lack of coordination between different levels of government, corruption, and a lack of effective urban planning and management.

Thus, unplanned urban growth in India has resulted in a range of problems that require urgent attention. Addressing these issues will require a coordinated effort from the government, urban planners, and citizens to promote sustainable and inclusive urban development. This might involve developing new infrastructure to support urban growth, encouraging more sustainable transportation options like public transit and cycling, and investing in affordable housing and basic services for low-income communities. By addressing the problems of unplanned urban growth, India can build more livable and sustainable cities that benefit all residents.

Salient features of urbanization in India

Sure, here are some additional details on the salient features of urbanization in India:

  1. Rapid growth: 

India is one of the fastest urbanizing countries in the world, with the urban population growing at a rate of 2.7% per year. The country is expected to add another 400 million people to its urban population by 2050. This rapid growth has put pressure on urban infrastructure and services, as well as on the environment.

  1. Mega-cities: 

India has several mega-cities with populations over 10 million, including Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore. These cities are important economic and cultural hubs, but also face significant challenges such as traffic congestion, air pollution, and social inequality. Rapid population growth, inadequate infrastructure, and governance issues have contributed to these challenges.

  1. Informal settlements: 

A large proportion of India’s urban population lives in informal settlements such as slums and shantytowns. These settlements often lack basic amenities like sanitation, clean water, and electricity, making living conditions extremely difficult. Despite efforts to improve conditions, the growth of informal settlements remains a major challenge.

  1. Youthful population: 

India has a large number of young people, with around 50% of the population below the age of 25. Many of these young people move to urban areas in search of employment and education opportunities. This has contributed to the growth of cities and the development of a vibrant urban culture. However, it has also put pressure on urban infrastructure and services, particularly in terms of housing and transportation.

  1. Service sector dominance: 

The service sector dominates urban economies in India, accounting for around 60% of GDP. Sectors such as IT, finance, and hospitality are key drivers of economic growth and employment. However, there is still a large informal sector that contributes to urban economies, particularly in areas such as street vending and small-scale manufacturing.

  1. Infrastructure deficits: 

Despite rapid urbanization, there are significant infrastructure deficits in urban areas, particularly in terms of transportation, water supply, and sanitation. Many cities lack adequate public transportation systems, leading to traffic congestion and air pollution. Water supply and sanitation services are often inadequate, leading to health risks and environmental degradation.

  1. Governance challenges: 

Urbanization in India has created governance challenges, including a lack of coordination between different levels of government, corruption, and a lack of effective urban planning and management. The responsibilities for urban development are shared between the central, state, and local governments, which can lead to coordination issues. Corruption and a lack of transparency in decision-making also contribute to governance challenges.

From the above point, the salient features of urbanization in India reflect the country’s rapid economic growth and social changes, as well as the challenges that come with urbanization. Addressing these challenges will require a multi-faceted approach that involves improving infrastructure and services, strengthening governance and coordination mechanisms, and promoting inclusive and sustainable urban development.

How to tackle the negative aspect of urbanization

Certainly, here are some suggestions for tackling the negative aspects of urbanization in India:

  1. Promote sustainable urban development: 

One of the key challenges of urbanization in India is the pressure it places on the environment. To address this, there is a need for more sustainable urban development practices, such as green infrastructure, renewable energy, and efficient transportation systems. This can help to reduce pollution, mitigate the impacts of climate change, and improve public health.

  1. Improve infrastructure: 

Another major challenge of urbanization in India is inadequate infrastructure, particularly in terms of transportation, water supply, and sanitation. To address this, there is a need for increased investment in infrastructure, as well as better planning and management of urban services. This can help to improve access to services and reduce the burden of infrastructure deficits on residents.

  1. Provide affordable housing: 

A lack of affordable housing is a key driver of informal settlements in urban areas. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that promote affordable housing, such as subsidies, tax incentives, and public-private partnerships. This can help to reduce the number of people living in informal settlements and improve living conditions for urban residents.

  1. Strengthen governance: 

Governance challenges, such as corruption and a lack of coordination between different levels of government, can undermine efforts to address the negative aspects of urbanization. To address this, there is a need for better governance and coordination mechanisms, such as strengthening local government institutions, improving transparency and accountability, and promoting citizen participation in decision-making.

  1. Invest in human capital: 

Urbanization has created employment and education opportunities, but there are still significant inequalities in access to these opportunities. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that promote human capital development, such as vocational training, education subsidies, and skills development programs. This can help to reduce social inequality and promote inclusive economic growth.

  1. Address social inequality: 

Urbanization has led to significant social inequality in Indian cities, particularly in terms of access to basic services, employment opportunities, and housing. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that promote social inclusion and equity, such as affirmative action, social welfare programs, and community development initiatives.

  1. Promote public health: 

Urbanization has also led to a range of public health challenges in Indian cities, including air pollution, waterborne diseases, and lifestyle-related illnesses. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that promote public health, such as clean air and water initiatives, health education campaigns, and preventive healthcare services.

  1. Encourage urban-rural linkages: 

Urbanization has led to a rural-urban divide in India, with many rural areas experiencing depopulation and neglect. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that encourage linkages between urban and rural areas, such as investment in rural infrastructure, promotion of rural industries, and migration management programs.

  1. Enhance disaster management: 

Urbanization has made Indian cities more vulnerable to natural and man-made disasters, such as floods, earthquakes, and terrorist attacks. To address this, there is a need for policies and programs that enhance disaster management, such as early warning systems, emergency response plans, and infrastructure resilience programs.

  1. Foster innovation and creativity: 

Urbanization has also led to a vibrant urban culture in India, with many cities serving as centers of innovation and creativity. To harness the potential of this culture, there is a need for policies and programs that support innovation and creativity, such as start-up incubators, cultural festivals, and public art initiatives.

Thus, tackling the negative aspects of urbanization in India will require a comprehensive and integrated approach that addresses the economic, social, environmental, and governance challenges associated with urbanization. The suggestions outlined above can help to promote sustainable and inclusive urban development in India.

Characteristics of Urban Community

Urban life and personality are affected by the physical and social conditions of urban living—anonymity, social distance, speed and tension, regimentation, impersonal social interaction, mobility and transiency etc. These conditions produce impersonality, insecurity and segmentation of personality, which appear to be universal characteristics of urbanisation (or urban community) all over the world. 

Urban mode of life is quite contrary to traditional rural life, though it has affected rural life, which is also changing. Its characteristics are represented by the term ‘urbanism’ and its expansion process is called ‘urbanisation’. 

Some of the most important characteristics of an urban community are as follows:

  1. Large size and high density of population:

The size of the urban community is much larger than the rural community. In urban areas, there is high density of population. Density increases the number of short-term, impersonal and utilitarian social relationships a person will likely have. For example, Mumbai has a population density of over 22,000 people per square kilometre, leading to issues such as traffic congestion, pollution, and housing shortages.

  1. Heterogeneity:

India is a highly diverse country, with people from many different ethnic groups, castes, classes, religious and linguistic backgrounds living in its urban areas. Urban community is noteworthy for their diversity. For example, Delhi is a melting pot of different cultures and languages, with people from all over India and the world living and working together. This can lead to social fragmentation and conflict, but it can also promote cultural exchange and tolerance.

  1. Anonymity: 

In many Indian cities, there is sheer pressure of number marks for anonymity. Anonymity is a loss of identity and sense of belongingness. People often do not know their neighbours or have personal relationships with them. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, but it can also lead to a greater degree of individual freedom and independence.

  1. Mobility and transiency:

Urban life is dynamic. Social relations are temporary. Therefore, permanency does not develop in urban relations. There is a high rate of geographical as well as social mobility in urban areas. Different types of mobility usually mean transiency of contact. As such, urban social relations continue for a very short time. Urban dweller continually makes new social contacts. 

  1. Formality of relations: 

In urban social life, relations are not intimate and kinship based. Most routine social contacts in the city are impersonal and segmented. In Indian cities, many people move in and out of the city frequently for work and business. Formal politeness takes the place of genuine friendliness. The impersonality of urban life is a necessary and convenient way of urban living. This can lead to a lack of social cohesion and community spirit, but it also allows for the exchange of ideas and the formation of diverse networks.

  1. Social distance: 

In India, there are social and cultural differences between people from different regions, castes, and religions, leading to a sense of social distance between them. Social distance is a product of anonymity, impersonality and heterogeneity. Occupational differences may be even more important sources of social distance. Urbanites become nigh-dwellers, not neighbours. Apartment dwellers may live for years without any acquaintance with many of the other occupants. This can contribute to social tension and conflict, but it can also promote greater understanding and acceptance of diversity.

  1. Regimentation: 

The city is always in a hurry. The life (work and entertainment) in the urban community becomes ‘clock regulated’. Order, regularity and punctuality are the charac­teristics of urban life. In Indian cities, there are often rules and regulations governing behaviour, such as traffic rules or building codes. However, these regulations may not always be enforced consistently, leading to a sense of chaos and disorder.

  1. Segmentation of personality: 

In many Indian cities, individuals may adopt different roles and behaviours in different social situations, such as at work, with friends, or with family. In cities, most routine urban contacts are of secondary group rather than primary group nature. Most contacts are instrumental, that is, we use another person as a necessary functionary to fulfill our purposes. We do not neces­sarily interact with entire persons but with people in terms of their formal roles as postmen, bus drivers, office assistant, policeman and other functionaries. We thus interact with only a segment of the person, not with the whole person. This can lead to a lack of personal identity and authenticity, but it can also promote adaptability and versatility in social interactions.

Thus, the urbanization process in India is characterized by rapid growth, high population density, informal settlements, the concentration of economic activities, migration, inadequate infrastructure, inequality, and urban sprawl. These characteristics have both positive and negative impacts on the urban population and the environment and require effective urban planning and management to address the challenges and promote sustainable urban development.

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