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  • The process of society’s transformation from a predominantly rural to a pre­dominantly urban population is known as ‘Urbanisation’. It includes two aspects — an increase in the number of people living in urban settlements and an increase in the percentage of the population engaged in non-agricultural activities living in such areas.
  • Urbanisation is a continuous process. In recent times, cities have become engines of growth urbanization has become an instrument of progress — social, economic and political.
  • Of the total urban population of India, more than one half lives in just five States. These States are Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.

Percentage-wise maximum and minimum urban population (2011) is as follows:

Maximum Population Minimum Population
State Percentage State Percentage
Goa 49.77 Himachal Pradesh 9.79
Mizoram 49.50 Bihar 10.47
Tamil Nadu 43.86 Sikkim 11.10
Maharashtra 42.40 Assam 12.72
Gujarat 37.35 Odisha 14.97



Size class classification of urban-population helps in comparison of data over a century.

Size Class Population
I 100000 and above
II 50,000 — 99,999
III 20,Q00 — 49,999
IV 10,000 — 19,999
V 5,000 — 9,999
VI Less than 5,000



Top Three Urban States Absolute      Population


%     share     of


Maharashtra  50.8 13.5
Uttar Pradesh 44.4 11.8
Tamil Nadu  34.9 9.3
Bottom    Three   Urban


Sikkim , 0.15 Negligible
Arunachal Pradesh 0.31 0.1
Mizoram 0.56 0.1
Top Three States With Rural Population    
Uttar Pradesh  155.11  18.6
Bihar 92.07  11.1
West Bengal 62.21 7.5
Bottom    Three    Rural


Sikkim 0.45 0.1
Mizoram 0.52  0.1
Goa 0.55 0.1


Rural-Urban Distribution of persons (2011)

Rural Percentage Absolute number Increase from 2001
Rural 68.84 833 million 94.4 million
Urban 31.16 377 million 91.0 million
Total 100.0 1210 million 181.4 million


There has been a spurt in growth of population in urban areas in the country, due to:        

  • Migration
  • Natural increase
  • Inclusion of new areas as ‘urban’
  • Apart from this, an urban centre with less than one lakh population is called a Town while that with more than one lakh is called a city. Cities having population varying from one to five million are called Metropolitan cities while those with more than five million are known as Mega cities.
  • Majority of metropolitan and mega cities are urban agglomerations. Metropolitanisation refers to growth of urban centres rooted in industrial and tertiary economic base. An Urban Sprawl is a low density uncontrolled expansion of larger urban areas into surrounding agricultural areas. It happens because of rapid growth of city’s population and widening range of economic activities. We also have satellite town which are suburban centres providing cheaper and spacious alternative to main city.



For the Census of India 2011, the definition of urban area is as follows;

  • All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee, etc.
  • All other places which satisfied the following criteria:
  • A minimum population of 5,000;
  • At least 75 per cent of the male main working population engaged in non­agricultural pursuits; and
  • A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km.

The first category of urban units is known as Statutory Towns (as in item 1). These towns are notified under law by the concerned State/UT Government and have local bodies like municipal corporations, municipalities, municipal committees, etc., irrespective of their demographic characteristics as reckoned on 31st December 2009. Examples: Vadodara (M Corp.), Shimla (M Corp.) etc.

The second category of Towns (as in item 2 above) is known as Census Town. These were identified on the basis of Census 2001 data.

  • Urban Agglomeration (UA): An urban agglomeration is a continuous urban spread constituting a town and its adjoining outgrowths (OGs), or two or more physically contiguous towns together with or without outgrowths of such towns. An Urban Agglomeration must consist of at least a statutory town and its total population (i.e. all the constituents put together) should not be less than 20,000 as per the 2001 Census. In varying local conditions, there were similar other combinations which have been treated as urban agglomerations satisfying the basic condition of contiguity. Examples: Greater Mumbai UA, Delhi UA, etc.
  • Out Growths (OG): An Out Growth (OG) is a viable unit such as a village or a hamlet or an enumeration block made up of such village or hamlet and clearly identifiable in terms of its boundaries and location. Some of the examples are railway colony, university campus, port area, military camps, etc., which have come up near a statutory town outside its statutory limits but within the revenue limits of a village or villages contiguous to the town. While determining the outgrowth of a town, it has been ensured that it possesses the urban features in terms of infrastructure and amenities such as pucca roads, electricity, taps, drainage system for disposal of waste water etc. educational institutions, post offices, medical facilities, banks etc. and physically contiguous with the core town of the UA. Examples: Central Railway Colony (OG), Triveni Nagar (OG), etc. Each such town together with its outgrowth(s) is treated as an integrated urban area and is designated as an ‘urban agglomeration’.

In the 2011 Census, 475 places with 981 OGs have been identified as Urban Agglomerations as against 384 UAs with 962 OGs in 2001 Census.


Type of Towns/UAs/OGs                                Number of towns

    2011 Census                       2001 Census

  • Statutory Towns 4,041                                  3,799
  • Census Towns 3,894                                  1,362
  • Urban Agglomerations 475                                   384
  • Out Growths 981                                   962

At the Census 2011 there are 7,935 towns in the country. The number of towns has increased by 2,774 since last Census. Many of these towns are part of UAs and the rest are independent towns. The total number of Urban Agglomerations/Towns, which constitutes the urban frame, is 6166 in the country.


  • The total urban population in the country as per Census 2011 is more than 377 million constituting 31.16% of the total population.
  • Class I UAs/Towns: The UAs/Towns are grouped on the basis their population in Census. The UAs/Towns which have at least 1,00,000 persons as population are categorised as Class I UA/Town. At the Census 2011, there are 468 such UAs/Towns. The corresponding number in Census 2001 was 394.
  • 9 million persons, constituting 70% of the total urban population, live in these Class I UAs/Towns. The proportion has increased considerable over the last Census. In the remaining classes of towns the growth has been nominal.
  • Million Plus UAs/Towns: Out of 468 UAs/Towns belonging to Class I category, 53 UAs/Towns each has a population of one million or above each. Known as Million Plus UAs/Cities, these are the major urban centres in the country. 160.7 million persons (or 42.6% of the urban population) live in these Million Plus UAs/Cities.18 new UAs/Towns have been added to this list since the last Census.
  • Mega Cities: Among the Million Plus UAs/Cities, there are three very large UAs with more than 10 million persons in the country, known as Mega Cities. These are Greater Mumbai UA (18.4 million), Delhi UA (16.3 million) and Kolkata UA (14.1 million). The largest UA in the country is Greater Mumbai UA followed by Delhi UA. Kolkata UA which held the second rank in Census 2001 has been replaced by Delhi UA. The growth in population in the Mega Cities has slowed down considerably during the last decade. Greater Mumbai UA, which had witnessed 30.47% growth in population during 1991 2001 has recorded 12.05% during 2001-2011. Similarly Delhi UA (from 52.24% to 26.69% in 2001-2011) and Kolkata UA (from 19.60% to 6.87% in 2001-2011) have also slowed down considerably.


  • Population of children in the age group is 158.8 million in Census 2011. In the urban areas there are 41.2 million children in this age group. In comparison to Census 2001, the number of children (0-6) in urban areas has increased (by 10.32%), while in the rural areas it has decreased by 7.04%.
  • Of the 41.2 million children (0-6) in the urban areas in the country, the population in Class I UAs/Cities is 27.9 million, which is about 67.8% of the total urban child population. In Million Plus UAs/Cities the Child Population (0-6) is 16.6 million constituting about 40 % of the total urban child (0-6) population of the country.
  • Among the 53 Million Plus UAs/Cities 16.6 million are children (0-6), of which 52.7% are boys and 47.3% are girls, showing a preponderance of male children in these large cities.
  • Malappuram UA has the highest proportion of Children (0-6) (13.57%) in the Million Plus category, followed by Ghaziabad (13.09%). Kolkata UA has the lowest proportion at 7.54%.


  • Sex ratio, the number of females per thousand males, in urban areas in India is 926 in Census 2011. It has registered an increase of 26 points over the Sex Ratio in 2001 Census.
  • Sex ratio in Class I UAs/Cities (population of 100,000 and above) is 921, which is 5 points lower than the total urban sex ratio in the country.
  • Among the Million Plus UAs/Cities the Sex Ratio stands at 912. The UAs, where population of females exceeds the total male population in this group are Kannur UA (Kerala) at the top with 1168. Surat UA (Gujarat) is at the bottom of the list with Sex Ratio at 754 where males outnumber females.
  • In the two of the three mega cities there is predominance of male population as they have returned low Sex Ratio (e.g., Greater Mumbai UA – 861, Delhi UA —867). Kolkata UA has returned a better Sex ratio at 928.


  • The Child Sex Ratio in the country has declined from 927 to 914 in Census 2011. This decline is more pronounced in rural areas than in urban areas of the country, where the decline is by 4 points from 906 to 902 in Census 2011.
  • The Child Sex Ratio in UAs/Cities with 100,000 persons and above is 899 which is a shade lower than the national average for urban areas.
  • The combined Child Sex Ratio in Million Plus UAs/Cities is 898. Thiruvananthapuram
  • UA (Kerala) has returned the highest Child Sex Ratio (971) in this group. The lowest slot is occupied by Agra UA (780).
  • Child Sex Ratio in the three Mega Cities are 946 (Kolkata UA), 900 (Greater Mumbai UA) and the lowest in 868 (Delhi UA).


Many towns perform specialized functions. Based on this towns can be classified as follows:

  • Administrative towns and cities e.g. New Delhi
  • Industrial towns: Jamshedpur Transport Cities: Manmad, Kandla
  • Commercial Towns: Kolkata
  • Mining Towns: Raniganj, Digboi
  • Cantonment Towns: Mhau (MP), Ambala
  • Educational Towns: Roorkie, Pilani
  • Religious and Cultural Towns: Tirupati, Amritsar
  1. Tourist Towns: Manali, Mount Abu

Even these specialized cities when they grant into metropolises, became multifunctional.



  1. As old as Indus Valley civilization.
  2. Growth during medieval period
  3. During British period — Fluctuating trends. Cities established on modern lines which trade as chief functions.


  1. Post Independence, apart from few planned cities, colonial cities grew further in size, population and functions. Colonial cities dominate the urban landscape of India.
  2. Indian cities are characterized by rapid urbanization induced more by rural-urban distress migration than by natural growth of population. Inadequacy of civic amenities and infra facilities.
  3. As a result of uncontrolled migration, cities have grown in haphazard, unplanned manner and have become unmanageable.
  4. Apart from colonial metropolitan cities, new cities have emerged in post liberalization era, at present 42 million-plus cities are present (2011), propelled by growth in service (tertiary) and manufacturing sector predominantly.
  5. Big cities expanding rapidly especially Class I cities while cities with population less than 20,000 (class IV-VI) are declining. Follow Raveinstein’s law.
  6. Primate city not at national level but state and regional level.
  7. Slums and Squatters characteristic of Indian urbanization. More urbanized states have more population living in slums. Around 22% of urban population lives in slums.
  8. City region: In West and South India almost every district has one big city centre which in its territorial limits. In North and Eastern India, several districts combined have one city centre. Size of city and city region has inverse relation with level of urbanization.
  9. In almost every city, old and new urban land uses are found representing old and New city. Cities expanding at periphery in unplanned way.
  10. Vertical Growth is beginning to take place in metro cities.
  11. Problems of political, financial independence.
  12. Uneven pattern of urbanization — Regional distribution — West and South more urbanized while, it decreases from North to East.
  13. Subsistence type of urbanization whereby rural unskilled and semiskilled labourers migrate mainly in search of employment.
  14. Inequality — four metropolitan cities between them account for 85% of richest people of India.
  15. India predominantly rural country (71% population rural). But urbanization proceeding at alarming pace. By 2030, 45% population will live in cities.


  • Scarcity of affordable houses due to rising land and housing prices. There is need for affordable mass housing schemes, rent control measures, rationalization of building codes (Floor Space Index).
  • Poor civic amenities such as power, water, sanitation, public healthcare and education, etc.
  • Lack of cheap, extensive and efficient public transport.
  • Challenge of solid and liquid waste management.
  • Slums and Squatters comprise 30 to 50% population of many cities.
  • Population of environmental degradation.
  • Urban land use policy not implemented. Play grounds for children, green belt and open spaces are hardly seen.
  • Peripheral growth of cities is haphazard and unplanned. There is lack of civic infrastructure and connectivity in suburbans, satellite towns, etc.
  • Alarming pace of urbanization due to rural to urban migration needs to be slowed down for better implementation of urban policies. All metro cities have population beyond their ‘carrying capacity’. Urban planning needs to take into consideration, the growth of adjoining regions, Tier II am III Cities
  • Administrative problems — Issues of devolving power, functions and financial resources to local bodies; multiplicity of civic agencies, need to be minimized and they be coordinated.
  • Unemployment, under employment.
  • Crimes, law and order
  • Social tension — fractions on community line, caste, religion, region, etc.
  • Insecurity for women.
  • Urbanisation is without industrial, technological growth.
  • Finally, challenge to keep vibrancy of city alive.


Slums are natural sequel to unchecked, unplanned and haphazard growth of urban areas. They are products of urban explosion which has accompanied industrialization.


  • Areas ‘notified’ by State Government, under any act.
  • Areas ‘recognized’ by State Government.
  • A compact area of at least 300 population or 60-70 households of poorly built congested tenements in unhygienic environment usually with inadequate infrastructure and lacking proper sanitary and drinking water facilities.
  • Present a striking feature in ecological structure of Indian cities, especially metropolitan cities.


  1. Rapid Growth of Population: especially in rural India.
  2. Heavy Pressure on Agricultural land and small size of land holding.
  3. Unemployment in Rural areas: agriculture and allied sectors have become non-profitable, erratic chronic and debt producing leading to chronic hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Thus, out of widespread ‘distress’ rural-urban migration, relatively unskilled and semi-skilled rural masses flock to urban areas in search of employment in large number of poor people from small towns also migrate to bigger cities for employment.
  4. In urban areas, they are faced with shortage of land for housing, high land prices which are beyond the reach of urban poor. Cheap rented houses are unavailable near city/work centre.
  5. Faster and cheaper transport facilities are absent to commute from peripheries to work centre.

In view of above factors, poor people sequatter on open government and public lands. Squatter Settlements which became stable, developed in inner parts of city are later called slums.


  • Employment in rural areas — increasing agricultural productivity and assurance of income in non agricultural sector — NREGA especially during Summer droughts, etc.
  • Check population growth — through reproductive health facilities, education and raised income level.
  • Promote industrialization and growth of small and medium towns (Class III to VI).
  • Affordable mass housing, giving land rights through HUDCO, CIDCO, TIDCO, etc via both government and Public-Private Partnership route.
  • Cheaper and faster mass transport — to commute to distance workplace e.g. Railways, BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System).
  • Easy availability of cheap finance for construction of houses, buying plots, etc.
  • Accommodating livelihood resources (Space for household industries) and community structure in houses, buildings built under Slum Redevelopment Schemes e.g. Dharavi (involve stakeholders in development plan.
  • Implementing government schemes honestly.
  • Increasing public, civic amenities in slums e.g. public toilets, water taps,
    health centre, schools, etc.

Community radio has emerged as an effective tool to organize people to solve their grievances.



JNNURM has four components:

  • Basic Services to Urban Poor (BSUP) for 65 select cities.
  • Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) for other cities and towns.
  • Urban Infrastructure Development of Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). and
  • Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG).


Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) is to provide shelter and redevelopment and creation of affordable housing stock to states that are willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers. It has phase I from 2011 to 2013 and Phase II from 2013 to 2017 i.e. 12th Five Year Plan. Government has formed Credit Risk Guarantee Fund for this Scheme.

  1. Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHIP)

It aims to construct one million houses for EWS/LIG/MIG with at least 25% reserved for EWS category.

  1. Interest Subsidy for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP)

The ISHUP seeks to supplement the efforts of the government through the JNNURM to comprehensively address the housing shortage.


  • The change of place of residence for a comparatively long period of time is known as migration. Local movements, movements for short duration and circular movements are not treated as migration. A migrant is one who is enumerated at a place other than place of birth.
  • The migration of people is related to changes in social, political and economic environments in the region of origin or in the receiving region. Various ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors operate together before a person decides to migrate.
  • The push factors which compels a person to migrate include unemployment, poverty, social insecurity, ethnic violence, political or civil strife, absence of better education and health facilities, natural disasters like droughts, eta. The pull or attracting factors include better living conditions, better cultural, educational and economic opportunities, availability of regular work and higher wages, etc.


  • Internal Migration: As National Statistical Survey Organisation (NSSO) Report around 30% i.e. 315 million as per census 2001 of total population of India are migrants. Amongst the migrants, a majority were found to be moving within the State (85%) as opposed to those moving across the States (15%). Women formed a sizeable majority of this migrant population.
  • In Inter-State migration states with highest outmigration are Uttar Pradesh (-2.6 million) and Bihar (-1.7 million) while those with highest net inflow are Maharashtra (2.3 million) and Delhi, Gujarat and Haryana. All Union Territories have very high net inflow with Chandigarh showing 41%.
  • As for rural-urban migration, more than half of the migration occurs from rural to rural areas. Migration from urban to urban and rural to urban together are around 40%. Urban to rural is 6% but in north-eastern States and UTs, over 70% of migration is towards urban regions.


  • Women who form a sizeable majority of the migrants primarily migrate on account of ‘Marriage’ and their typical age of marriage is between 15 and 24. For men, key reason for migration is ’employment-related’ and this primarily happens in the age band of 18 to 40. Consequently, migration due to movement of parents/earning member forms another reason. “Education” is also found to be a driver of migration and this typically happens for both women and men until the age of around 23 years.
  • Post independence, migration rate in India has been progressively increasing with rapid rise after 1990s. This trend will continue. According to United Nations by 2030 around 45-50% of population will be urban population.


  • Economic Consequences: A major benefit for source regions is remittances sent by migrants both international and domestic. In 2012 India received around $ 87 billion in remittances and was number 1 country in the world with respect to remittances received. Even domestically migrants send money back to their poverty ridden, indebted, and even malnourished families. For international remittances Punjab, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh are top states while for domestic remittances States in Northern agricultural plains.

To the destination States migrants provide valuable, hardworking and cheaper work force particularly in blue collar works for which in developed states there is relative scarcity of workers. In Green Revolution belt of Punjab, Haryana, Western UP, Western Maharashtra migrant labourers are the main agricultural work force in every season. On the other hand migration leads to overcrowding and strain on physical, civic infrastructure in urban areas. URBANISATION IN INDIA

  • Demographic Consequences: Migration leads to redistribution of population in the country. Age and Sex Selective out migration from rural areas have adverse effect on rural demographic structure.
  • Social Consequences: Migration leads to intermixing of people. On one hand migration acts as agent of social changes in relation to wider exposure to diverse cultures, family structure, girl’s and boy’s education. In Bangalore and Hyderabad now locals think everything in terms of IT even if majority of IT workforce is from outside States. On the other hand, migration also leads to social tension, ethnic conflicts as seen in Mumbai, Assam, Delhi, Chandigarh due to increased competition for employment, political manipulations, etc. Migrant workers also create a political vote bank. Uncontrolled and rapid migration has also led to growth of slums and ghettos in urban areas where mainly migrants live. Mumbai has almost 50% population living in slums. These areas are often besotted with poverty, unhygienic living conditions, increased crime rate and drug abuse.
  • Environmental Consequences: Cities are facing problems of disposal of sewage and solid wastes, air, water and ground pollution, depletion of ground water, absence of green belts, etc.


  • Settlements are of two types, rural and urban. The settlements where the majority of the people are engaged in primary activities are called rural settlements. Generally, the rural settlements are called villages. A revenue village with no resident population is called an uninhabited village.
  • Very small rural settlements are called hamlets. Very often a single village may have a number of clusters of houses as is often observed in the middle of Ganga plains. Such small groups are also called hamlets. Settlements where majority of population are engaged in secondary and tertiary activities are called urban settlements. The urban settlements are not only larger in size but they also perform a great variety of functions than rural settlements.
  • Rural settlements can also be classified on the basis of the spatial organization of the dwellings. According to the criterion, settlement§ are classified into nucleated and dispersed settlements. A nucleated settlement is one in which the entire population lives at one point. The houses of all people are built next to each other; villages in less humid region of Ganga plain are typical examples of such settlements. URBANISATION IN INDIA 
  • Nucleated settlements develop into areas where there is a need to live together either as a defense against the natural or human enemies or where there is a need to develop a resource through cooperation, for example digging of a well or a pond for water supply. Areas of low rainfall, fertile land and plain topography favor the development of such settlements. In a dispersed settlement, the people live on their own cultivated land.
  • These settlements develop in areas where each farmer lives on his own cultivated land. These settlements develop in areas of universal availability of water, secure conditions, irregular relief and low fertility of soil. In India such settlements are found in the Himalayan region, Kerala and parts of West Bengal.
  • The spacing or density pattern of Indian Villages varies with topography. For India as a whole, the average distance among villages is 2.52 km. Level alluvial plains favour development of closely spaced and smaller villages as in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Bengal, etc. Therefore, average density of villages in Northern plains (around 40/100 km2). The Hilly regions of peninsula such as Central Highlands, Western and Eastern Ghats have further less density. The village density is also less in Himalayas and Rajasthan desert as villages are widely spaced.




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