Tag Archives: India

Dynamism and Fragility of the Non-metropolitan Development in India. The Kartarpur Example: A Small Cluster-city of Craft Woodworkers

de Bercegol, R., & Gowda, S.

Espaces et sociétés, 2017 (1), 147-170.


Urbanisation in India is usually perceived as the problem of huge metropolises. The focus of this paper is on small conurbations in which specific urban dynamics emerge and contribute also to the current urban transformations. One of them, Kartarpur, is a small cluster-city of craft woodworkers. It shows both the dynamism and the fragility of this non-metropolitan urbanisation. The remarkable expansion of a small furniture industry is linked with endogenous factors rooted in a specific territory, far away from metropolitan development schemes. The analysis shows how a territorial cluster of local craftsmen, putting together their traditional know-how, allowed the creation of a real added-value which is upset by current neo-liberal evolutions.

‘Census Towns’ in India and what it means to be ‘urban’: Competing epistemologies and potential new approaches

Sircar, Srilata


The classification of 2 532 new settlements in the Census of India 2011 as ‘urban’, and specifically as ‘Census Towns’, has brought small and emerging urban centres back into the purview of urban studies and urban development in India. Taking this to be a point of entry, this article seeks to explore how the urban has been framed and approached from different and competing epistemological standpoints in the Indian context. First, it attempts to outline the different epistemologies of the urban in India, which may be seen as competing traditions because of the unequal stakes they have claimed so far in public and policy discourse. Then, it presents two brief case studies of Census Towns from the state of West Bengal to put forth new questions in this regard. The case studies illustrate significant gaps and discrepancies between the lived experience of the urban and its representation in dominant epistemological frameworks such as the official census. I argue that the historical development of various settlement systems, which constitutes the core narrative of urbanization in India, cannot be understood in all its complexity through mere census extracts or aerial images, but requires engagement with rich, embedded epistemologies that have taken shape within these settlements.

Circular Migration and Localized Urbanization in Rural India

Soundarya Iyer

Environment and Urbanization Asia – 8(1) 105–119, 2017

Internal migration is a major driving force for urbanization all over the world and is of concern in Asia due to its rising magnitude. Most studies on internal migration focus on the migrant in the process of migration and a large majority of studies are interested in understanding the conditions of the migrant at the destination for policy concerns. This article makes a case for studying the source of migration and the role that circular migration plays in processes of urbanization at the source of migration. This is particularly important in the context of the growing urbanization away from cities in India. Using the case of a dry land village in northeastern Karnataka, this article attempts to understand the role that circular migration for construction work to cities has in the process of localized urbanization in the village.


N. Sridharan

School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi

Draft paper to download

SHAMA PRASAD MUKHERJEE NATIONAL RURBAN MISSION is not a old wine in a new bottle, if one looks at it deeply. For the first time in India, a spatial planning strategy has been introduced in Rural Development Model with land use and convergence of various programmes and activities. If implemented with earnest interest, this Mission will be a game changer for the country. Lesser time for planning and lesser emphasis on people’s participation may challenge mission’s success than achieving desired integration and convergence. Capacity needs to be built at various levels so as to make this landmark programme a successful one.

Subaltern Urbanisation in India: An Introduction to the Dynamics of Ordinary Towns

Editors: Denis, Eric  & Zérah, Marie-Hélène (Eds.)

2017 – Springer India –  Exploring Urban Change in South Asia

Table of contents

Provides a grounded critical theory of the dominant models of urbanisation, notably the assumed relationship between globalisation and metropolisation.

This volume decentres the view of urbanisation in India from large agglomerations towards smaller urban settlements. It presents the outcomes of original research conducted over three years on subaltern processes of urbanization. The volume is organised in four sections. A first one deals with urbanisation dynamics and systems of cities with chapters on the new census towns, demographic and economic trajectories of cities and employment transformation. The interrelations of land transformation, social and cultural changes form the topic of the “land, society, belonging” section based on ethnographic work in various parts of India (Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu). A third section focuses on public policies, governance and urban services with a set of macro-analysis based papers and specific case studies. Understanding the nature of production and innovation in non metropolitan contexts closes this volume. Finally, though focused on India, this research raises larger questions with regard to the study of urbanisation and development worldwide.

Rurban Centres: The New Dimension of Urbanism

By Neha Pranav Kolh & Krishna Kumar Dhote

Procedia Technology, Volume 24, 2016, Pages 1699–1705

Abstract: In recent years urbanization has become synonym to development. Developing countries like India has experienced huge shift in the economy from agrarian base to service oriented employment. Indian cities unlike the western are not planned; they evolve in layers as a testimony to different period. The settlement may be organic, with heterogeneity yet very well reflects the interwoven social fabric. As a result of urbanization the urban sprawl is approaching the rural hinterlands. The line of distinction is fading away between urban and rural. A new type of settlement is emerging which once termed as conurbation by the Scottish planner Patrick Geddes. The area with diffusion of urban and rural activities is termed as RURBAN. These rurban centres are new emerging towns that are governed by rural local bodies, the activities possess in these areas are urban in nature. The paper attempts to develop a understanding of issues and challenges, possibilities and potential and development guidelines for this upcoming new centres of urban growth.


Employment and Unemployment situation in cities and towns in India

NSS Report No. 564: Employment and Unemployment situation in cities and towns in India (68th Round, 2011-2012)

This report is based on the employment and unemployment survey conducted in the 68th round of NSS during July 2011 to June 2012. In this report, estimates of the employment and unemployment indicators are presented for each of the class 1 cities, for size class 2 towns and for size class 3 towns.

Changes in WPR among persons of age 15 years and above between 2004-05 and 2011-12 for different size class of towns: Over the period 2004-05 and 2011-12, WPR for males of age 15 years and above decreased by about 2 percentage points for size class 3 towns as well as class 1 cities whereas it decreased by about 3 percentage points for size class 2 towns, while WPR for females decreased by nearly 6 percentage points for size class 3 towns and by 4 percentage
points for size class 2 towns and it remained almost at the same level for class 1 cities.

Self-employed persons: Among male workers in class 1 cities, about 37.9 per cent were self-employed and this proportion was about 42.7 per cent in size class 2 towns and 44.9 per cent in size class 3 towns and the corresponding proportions for females were 35.7 per cent, 42.5 per cent and 50.5 per cent for class 1 cities, size class 2 towns and size class 3 towns, respectively.

Casual labourers: Proportion of casual labourers among males was 7.5 per cent, 15.9 per cent and 21.2 per cent, respectively, for class 1 cities, size class 2 towns and size class 3 towns whereas the corresponding proportion for females was 6.5 per cent, 14.5 per cent and 22.2 per cent.

Small towns beat metros in jobs, self-employment

Construction is booming and related jobs are more to be found in smaller towns. These are some of the facets of urban India revealed in a recent NSSO report on employment in cities.

Smaller towns are surging ahead as hubs of jobs and entrepreneurial activity, beating larger cities and even metropolises. While industrial activity declines in big cities, smaller cities and towns are picking up the slack, often displaying a preference for manufacturing at the cost of the services sector.

Subodh Varma, May 24, 2015

Times of India: text here 

Urbanization and Spatial Patterns of Internal Migration in India

S Chandrasekhar, & Ajay Sharma

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, May 2014
With an urbanization level of 31.16 percent in 2011, India is the least urbanized country among the top 10 economies of the world. In addition, unlike other countries, the transition of workforce out of
agriculture is incomplete. This coupled with jobless growth in recent years has contributed to an increase in certain migration streams. While rural-rural migration continues to be the largest in terms of magnitude, we also document an increase in two-way commuting across rural and urban areas. Further, there are a large number of short term migrants and an increase in return migration rate is also observed.

Urbanization and Spatial Patterns of Internal Migration in India. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276431141_Urbanization_and_Spatial_Patterns_of_Internal_Migration_in_India [accessed Aug 16, 2015].

Middle India and Urban-Rural Development: Four Decades of Change

edited by Barbara Harriss-White, 2015

Springer, Exploring Urban Change in South India series

The only long-term urban study in India, and possibly worldwide

Middle India and Rural-Urban Development explores the socio-economic conditions of an ‘India’ that falls between the cracks of macro-economic analysis, sectoral research and micro-level ethnography. Its focus, the ‘middle India’ of small towns, is relatively unknown in scholarly terms for good reason: it requires sustained and difficult field research. But it is where most Indians either live or constantly visit in order to buy and sell, arrange marriages and plot politics. Anyone who wants to understand India therefore needs to understand non-metropolitan, provincial, small-town India and its economic life. This book meets this need. From 1973 to the present, Barbara Harriss-White has watched India’s development through the lens of an ordinary  town in northern Tamil Nadu, Arni. This book provides a pluralist, multi-disciplinary and inter-disciplinary perspective on Arni and its rural hinterland. It grounds general economic processes  in the social specificities of a given place and region. In the process, continuity is juxtaposed with abrupt change. A strong feature of the book is its analysis of how government policies that fail to take into account the realities of small town life in India have unintended and often perverse consequences.

In this unique book, Harriss-White brings together ten essays written by herself and her research team on Arni and its surrounding rural areas. They track the changing nature of local business and the workforce; their urban-rural relations, their regulation through civil society organizations and social practices, their relations to the state and to India’s accelerating and dynamic growth. That most people live outside the metropolises holds for many other developing countries and makes this book, and the ideas and methods that frame it, highly relevant to a global development audience.

New Census Towns in West Bengal: ‘Census Activism’ or Sectoral Diversification?

Debarshi Guin, Dipendra Nath Das

Economic & Political Weekly, April 4, 2015 vol l no 14

West Bengal’s agrarian distress-driven increase of rural non-farm activities in the 1990s caused the unprecedented emergence of new census towns in the 2011 Census. However, because of the huge increase of agricultural labourers (in 2011), many new census towns might be reclassified as villages for the next census in 2021.

Selected Readings on Small Town Dynamics in India

Bhuvaneswari Raman, Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma, Rémi De Bercegol, Eric Denis, Marie-Hélène Zerah.

USR 3330 “Savoirs et Mondes Indiens” Working papers series no. 7; SUBURBIN Working papers series no. 2. 114 pages. 2015

This literature review aims at summarizing the state of knowledge related to small urbanised settlements. The significance of researching these localities can be inferred from the fact that a growing share of urban population lives in such agglomerations with a population above 10,000 and below 50,000 to 100,000 inhabitants. This fact is not limited to India and a large share of the urban population worldwide lives in small and medium cities, which are understudied. The same dearth of research applies to the Indian context, as will be evident in this review, despite the importance of the resilience of an urban system comprising a large number of small towns and the diversity of these settlements in terms of their economic base and their social structure. This literature review is structured around five themes: A) the first section lays out issues related to estimating the magnitude and sources of demographic growth in order to infer the contribution of small towns to urban dynamics; B) the second section on Small Towns: Sources of Growth explores the economic processes supporting the expansion of small towns, and debates the dominant vision of the relationship between urbanization and growth, as explained by the New Economic Geography; C) the third section focuses on the transformation of small town economies and social structures while examining practices of entrepreneurship, circulation of labour, social mobility as well as caste and gender inequalities; D) the fourth section on Land and territorial transformations focuses on the relation between property and entrepreneurship; and E) the last section on Governance makes sense of the literature on decentralization, government schemes, governance and the political economy of small towns. This review constitutes one of the steps undertaken within the Subaltern Urbanization in India project (www.suburbin.hypotheses.org) to bring back to the fore the research on small towns.

Large Villages, Small Towns

V M Rao

Economic and Political Weekly, Vol – XLIX No. 16, April 19, 2014

Two distinctly different processes of change are likely to operate in rural areas as a consequence of urbanisation (Surinder S Jodhka, “Changing Face of Rural India”, EPW, 5 April 2014). As the urban boundaries shift out with larger villages becoming eventually small towns, the people in these villages would acquire urban lifestyles and aspirations though they continue to remain rural in the records. As the review notes, some 20,000 large villages account for more than a half of rural population.

Farm to Non-Farm: Are India’s Villages “Rurbanising”?

Pranav Sidhwani, Centre for Policy Research, CPR URBAN WORKING PAPER, November 2014

he process of urbanization in terms of workforce patterns is largely considered to be unidirectional – increasing engagement of the workforce in non-agricultural occupational pursuits. Using a unique database matching Census data on rural settlements for 2001 and 2011, this paper shows that this process is not straightforward and is characterised by considerable variation and unpredictability. This poses several questions regarding policy implementation, and particularly, on where the focus of the government’s ‘RURBAN’ initiatives should be.

Developing model village clusters


Creating central towns with urban facilities for 100 or so villages in each tehsil will prevent wastage of national resources on ‘model villages’ and ‘smart cities’. The Narendra Modi government has launched an ambitious programme for both rural and urban development. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The Prime Minister has a vision of developing ‘one hundred smart cities’ as satellite towns of larger cities by modernising the existing mid-sized cities. To provide the necessary focus to this critical activity, I have provided a sum of [Rs.] 7,060 crore in the current fiscal.” For rural areas, Mr. Modi in his Independence Day speech urged each Member of Parliament to make one village of his or her constituency a ‘model village’ by 2016. After 2016, two more villages should be selected and after 2019, at least five model villages must be established by each MP in his/her area.