All posts by edenis

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

RAMGOPAL AGARWALA, THE HINDU, September 18, 2014

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.

Patriotism plus passion: stories of 20 entrepreneurs from small towns in India

Madanmohan Rao | April 27, 2014, YOURSTORY

Guess what? The world’s largest company in value-added spices, one of the world’s Top 10 publishing BPOs, India’s biggest exporter of hand-knotted carpets, largest machine tool manufacturer, largest honey exporter, and largest leather exporter all started up in small towns in India, not the big metros.

Over the decades, big ideas and successful entrepreneurs have made a mark in small-town India, as shown by the 20 profiles in the new book by Rashmi Bansal, Take Me Home.

 

Census Towns in Kerala: Challenges of Urban Transformation

Yacoub Zachariah Kuruvilla, TISS, School of Habitat Studies, Graduate Student

Access to the paper

Abstract: This paper reviews the growth of urbanisation in Kerala with a special focus on census towns in Kerala using census data from 1961-2011 and State urbanisation report of the department of town planning. Kerala registered a massive increase in urbanisation from 25 per cent in 2001 to 47 percent in 2011. Major contribution of this increase was due to increase in number of census towns which are not governed by urban local governments. Census has defined census towns as ‘places that satisfy three fold criteria of population of 5000, 75 per cent of male main working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and density of  400 persons per sq.km. They can be easily defined as transitional urban areas at various levels of transition which is also known as urbanisation by implosion, where massive density of population, economic change and access to good level of public services leads to urban growth. In Kerala the growth of census towns can be attributed to improvement of transport facilities, massive decline of the male workforce in agriculture and related activities along with shift to tertiary sector. The paper highlights several challenges of planning and governance of census towns in Kerala such as spatial planning, waste management, traffic and transport management and use of centrally sponsored schemes. The paper concludes with the suggestion that institutional transition from village panchayats to town panchayats along with a proper legal framework may be reauired to deal with the challenges of this urban transformation.

Territorial Legends Politics of Indigeneity, Migration, and Urban Citizenship in Pasighat

Mythri Prasad-Aleyamma – full text here

Review of Urban Affairs, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol – XLIX No. 22, May 31, 2014

Exploring how the policy of protection of indigenous people works on the ground in Pasighat, a town in Arunachal Pradesh, this paper brings out the interlinkages between urban politics and indigeneity as an entitlement regime. Once boundaries are operationalised on the basis of territorial belonging, politics revolves around who is from a particular place and who is not. This has created opportunities for accumulation for the indigenous people through rents. The state simultaneously installs and destabilises this politics of indigeneity. The paper shows how the state and capital are implicated in the structures of enfranchisement that have historically shaped the town.

 

The Politics of Classification and the Complexity of Governance in Census Towns

by Gopa Samanta – full text here

Review of Urban Affairs, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol – XLIX No. 22, May 31, 2014

Spontaneous urbanisation through the transfer of capital from the agricultural sector to the commercial sector has given rise to a large number of census towns in West Bengal. These settlements are cases of denied urbanisation, where the territory takes an urban shape but infrastructure and services remain poor under rural local governments that lack resources. Some of these towns retain their census town status for decades, and basic services are neglected until they achieve urban status. Based on empirical research carried out in Singur, a census town in West Bengal, this paper looks at the nature of urbanisation in these towns and tries to trace the role of politics in controlling access to urban status. It also explores the complexity of governance in census towns and surrounding urban areas.

Patterns and Practices of Spatial Transformation in Non-Metros: The Case of Tiruchengode

Bhuvaneswari Raman – full text here

Review of Urban Affairs, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol – XLIX No. 22, May 31, 2014

Urban transformation in Tiruchengode town in Tamil Nadu has been predominantly driven by processes internal to it. It has been driven by growth of the town’s economy and the practice of entrepreneurs investing in land for capital accumulation. The process described in this paper reinforces the theories of subaltern urbanisation and in situ urbanisation. While the role of the town’s entrepreneurs, local landowners, and politics have been significant factors in shaping the evolution and development of its economy, the transformation story has also been shaped by supra-local flows of capital and labour from the region.

Articulating Growth in the Urban Spectrum

Partha Mukhopadhyay and Anant Maringanti – full text here

Review of Urban Affairs, Economic & Political Weekly, Vol – XLIX No. 22, May 31, 2014

In the last 10 years, the share of large million-plus cities in India in the total population has increased and not because of the growth of existing large cities, but because new million-plus towns have emerged – indicating that “near million” cities are a source of growth. The share of the population in towns below 1,00,000 has also grown, and within these smaller towns, the share of the population of census towns has increased from 19% to 36%. Growth, in short, is occurring across the urban spectrum – a reminder of the need to move away from metro-centricity (Bunnell and Maringanti 2010). These small towns are not simple settlements – their economy is multifaceted, politics knotty and social relations complicated. The papers in this issue of the Review of Urban Affairs highlight different aspects of this complexity.

At the frontiers of Urban Space Proceeding

Aux frontières de l’urbain / At the frontiers of Urban space

Avignon (France), 22-23 January 2014

Conference proceeding / Actes de la conférence

Download here: http://www.geo.univ-avignon.fr/Coll-Villes_Actes.htm

At the International conference “At the Frontiers of  Urban Space. Small towns of the world: emergence, growth, economic and social role, territorial integration, governance”  were exposed various issues concerning the bottom of the urban hierarchy:

  • Comparative approach: India, Europe, Africa, Latin America…
  • Small towns, networks and mobility
  • Small town and land issues
  • Urban systems and hierarchies
  • Emerging towns: genesis and history
  • Role of politics, role of spontaneous urbanisation
  • Small town economy
  • Small towns and sustainable development

City Forgotten: The Fate of Small Towns in India’s Urbanization

September 23, 2013 · by Ayona Datta

Late one evening, my academic partner Abdul Shaban, his research assistant Noor Alam and I reached Malegaon in a hired car via a long dusty road off the Mumbai-Nashik highway. We lost our way several times even though both Shaban and Noor Alam had been to Malegaon several times earlier, but the nondescript nature of the road and the journey through fields and industrial setups in the dark can confuse anyone. We reached Malegaon finally by asking local passers-by, who assured us that this was indeed the road to the infamous town.

Aux frontières de l’urbain. Petites villes du monde

Appel à textes/call for paper

La revue Territoire en Mouvement prépare un numéro intitulé « Aux frontières de l’urbain. Petites villes du monde ». Volontairement ambiguë, cette formulation invite à questionner à la fois le thème des petites villes et celui des marges de l’urbain. L’objet de cette recherche est défini aussi bien « par le bas » que « par le haut », c’est-à-dire, par opposition classique au monde rural autant que par rapport aux grandes métropoles. En effet, ces dernières ont eu tendance à devenir une icône surmédiatisée de la ville. Mais, abstraction faite de ces organismes exceptionnels, qu’est-ce qu’une simple ville ? Constitue-t-elle un ensemble flou et transitoire ou représente-t-elle l’avenir d’une société urbaine ? L’appel à textes est proposé par François Moriconi-Ebrard, directeur de recherche au CNRS, UMR ESPACE (UMR 7300) et Cathy Chatel, post-doctorante au Centre d’Estudis Demogràfics (CED) de Barcelone.