Category Archives: Non classé

Urbanization beyond the Metropolis: Planning for a Large Number of Small Places in the Global South

Gregory F. Randolph and Chandan Deuskar

How are urban population and its growth distributed across urban settlements of different sizes? In the Global South, this is a critical planning question, yet its answer is muddled by contradictory claims in the literature and inconsistent data. Using a new dataset measuring urbanization from 1975 to 2015, we find that urban populations in the South are less concentrated in megacities than in the North—contrary to conventional wisdom. Given an explosion in the number (not simply size) of urban settlements in the South, we suggest reviving the concept of “barefoot planning” as an approach for empowering communities beyond the metropolis to shape the urbanization process

Subaltern Urbanization: Indian Insights for Urban Theory


Written by:

Partha Mukhopadhyay, Marie‐Hélène Zérah & Eric Denis

June 2020

The concept of subaltern urbanization is about vibrant smaller settlements—outside the metropolitan shadow—sustainably supporting a dispersed pattern of urbanization. We propose a theoretical framework which draws on an empirical research collective using both large statistical and land‐use data sets and detailed case studies in non‐metropolitan Indian geographies. Anchored in postcolonial urban studies, it looks beyond the logic of agglomeration and questions our understanding of settlement hierarchies and the location of social and economic innovation processes, opening up an alternative reading of urbanization that could be valuable for other regions. Local agency is core to this concept, transporting the arguments of the ordinary and the subaltern beyond large cities. Our findings, apart from emphasizing the agency of smaller settlements, highlight their multiple local and translocal flows, shaping an autonomous external engagement that could exist independently of relationships with large cities. Further, even though the rural and the urban seep into each other, they do so organically, unlike the process in planetary urbanization. Additionally, the rural‐urban dichotomy remains performative, in that governance regimes influence the urbanization process. Appreciation of these dynamics can provide insights towards a better understanding of the system of human settlements, which is our goal in advancing this framework.


Book Review in urban studies Journal

Subaltern Urbanisation in India: An Introduction
to the Dynamics of Ordinary Town reviewed by Gregory F Randolph (University of Southern California) and Mukta Naik (IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam) in Urban Studies 1–3 – 2018.

While half the world’s city dwellers reside in small and medium-sized towns (United Nations, 2018), the urban social sciences remain stubbornly focused on the planet’s largest metropolitan areas. Among those studying the North, the global cities literature (Sassen, 2005, 2013) has re-energised the long-standing focus on cities such as London, New York and Paris. Neither has scholarship on the urban South, despite its critiques of urban theories emanating from Northern cities, turned its imagination much
beyond major metropolitan areas. The implicit assumption seems to be that megacities are representative samples of the massive
urban transformation underway across much of the world. The neglect of cities at the other end of the settlement size spectrum is not simply a failure of the academy to study the full universe of urban phenomena. As the evidence in this volume begins to demonstrate, it is actually a failure to grapple with one of the central forces underlying the rapid urbanisation unfolding in the
Global South: widespread rural-to-urban in situ transformations are resulting in the proliferation of small urban settlements.

Predicting the Future of Census Towns

Shamindra Nath Roy, Kanhu Charan Pradhan

EPW- Review of Urban Affairs, Vol. 53, Issue No. 49, 15 Dec, 2018

The 2011 Census highlighted the enormous growth of census towns, which contributed more than one-third of the urban growth during 2001–11. Since the rural–urban identification process in India is ex ante, using past census data, the number of CTs that will be identified in 2019 for the 2021 Census are estimated. The present study finds that the importance of CTs will be maintained in the urban structure, and a significant share of urban population will continue to grow beyond municipal limits. The influence of large towns on the growth of CTs will be persistent in the future, but a more localised form of urbanisation is also evident where the effect of agglomeration is less. Such a pattern may be stable because these places are relatively more prosperous than their rural counterparts.


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.

Exclusionary Urbanization and Changing Migration Pattern in India: Is commuting by workers a feasible alternative?

By Ajay Sharma, Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research

Paper presented at the International Union for the Scientific Study of Population Conference, 2013, Busan (Korea)

paper: available here

For developing countries including India, United Nations projections of urban population have been on the higher side. Based on such estimates, it was conjectured that India would witness a large migration from rural areas. Yet, during 2001-11, nationally representative surveys did not record large increase in rural-urban migration. Hence, the share of urban population increased marginally from 27.8 to 31.1 percent over 2001-2011. This increase however masks important undercurrents.
Two predominantly urban states of India and few important urban agglomerations reported their lowest ever population growth rate over the period 2001-11 while Mumbai recorded an absolute decline in its population. Since lower total fertility rate cannot explain this phenomenon, two plausible explanations are out-migration from cities and reduced rate of in-migration to cities (Kundu 2012). With cities unwelcoming and anemic employment growth in rural India, an alternative, albeit effective livelihood strategy (where feasible) is commuting daily from rural to urban areas for work. Nearly 12.5 million workers cross the rural-urban boundary for work every day while 12.2 million workers report not having a fixed place of work. Such movement of workers is fast developing as an important and new channel of interaction between the rural and urban

Emerging Consumer Demand: Rise of the Small Town Indian

This White Paper from Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and Nielsen India, titled Emerging Consumer Demand: Rise of the Small Town Indian (2012) takes a closer look at how the smaller Indian towns are leading the demand surge and shopping like metros. I believe, one of the inherent strength of the Indian economy – private consumption expenditure, will continue to remain the strongest pillar of the Indian growth story. Sustaining this consumption story is the rise of the small town consumer.

The Indian consumption landscape in the small towns is dramatically changing – higher disposable income, demographic dividend of a younger generation, heightened aspirations, increasing urbanization resulting in a growing number of nuclear families – all important and key factors leading this development.

Eight thousand towns, 630,000 villages, over eight million stores and 1.2 billion people! In such a diverse consumer universe, how do you measure demand, where is it strongest? North vs. South, the metros vs. Rural – the choices are endless. Nielsen has found that despite current inflationary environment, tier II and tier III towns are showing strong momentum with an improved demand appetite.