Category Archives: Articles & Books

The Golden Quadrilateral Highway Project and Urban/Rural Manufacturing in India

by Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover Goswami and William R. Kerr

The World Bank, Poverty Reduction and Economic Management Network, Economic Policy and Debt Department, September 2013

Policy Research Working Paper 6620

This study investigates the impact of the Golden Quadrilateral highway project on the urban and  rural growth of Indian manufacturing. The Golden Quadrilateral project upgraded the quality and width of 5,846 km of roads in India. The study uses a difference-in-difference estimation strategy to compare non-nodal districts based on their distance from the highway system. For the organized portion of the manufacturing sector, the Golden Quadrilateral project led to improvements in both urban and rural areas of non-nodal districts located 0–10 km from the Golden Quadrilateral. These higher entry rates and increases in plant productivity are not present in districts 10–50 km away. The entry effects are stronger in rural areas of districts, but the differences between urban and rural areas are modest relative to the overall effect. The productivity consequences are similar in both locations. The most important difference appears to be the greater activation of urban areas near the nodal cities and rural areas in remote locations along the Golden Quadrilateral network. For the unorganized sector, no material effects are found from the Golden Quadrilateral upgrades in either setting. These findings suggest that in the time frames that we can consider—the first five to seven years during and after upgrades—the economic effects of major highway projects contribute modestly to the migration of the organized sector out of Indian cities, but are unrelated to the increased urbanization of the unorganized sector.



Is india’s manufacturing sector moving away from cities?

By Ejaz Ghani, Arti Grover Goswami, and William R. Kerr  NBER Working Paper No. 17992

This paper investigates the urbanization of the Indian manufacturing sector by combining enterprise data from formal and informal sectors. We find that plants in the formal sector are moving away from urban and into rural locations, while the informal sector is moving from rural to urban locations. While the secular trend for India’s manufacturing urbanization has slowed down, the localized importance of education and infrastructure have not. Our results suggest that districts with better education and infrastructure have experienced a faster pace of urbanization, although higher urban-rural cost ratios cause movement out of urban areas. This process is associated with improvements in the spatial allocation of plants across urban and rural locations. Spatial location of plants has implications for policy on investments in education, infrastructure, and the livability of cities. The high share of urbanization occurring in the informal sector suggests that urbanization policies that contain inclusionary approaches may be more successful in promoting local development and managing its strains than those focused only on the formal sector.

The Urbanisation of Rural China

China Perspectives 2013/3, Special Feature

For the first time in history, more Chinese people now live in towns and cities than in rural villages. Reaching 51% in 2011, urbanisation in China is accelerating. Convinced that this holds the key to the country’s ongoing social and economic development, China’s leaders recently announced an urbanisation target of 70% (approximately 900 million people) by 2025. However, leaders including Premier Li Keqiang have emphasised that future urbanisation would be characterised not by an expansion of megacities (dushihua 都市花), but by growth in rural towns and small cities (chengzhenhua 城镇化). The Party is essentially seeking to take the cities to the rural populace rather than bring the rural populace to the cities. Following the policy announcement at the 18th Party Congress in November 2012, a group of national ministries has been tasked with developing guidelines for promoting the urbanisation of rural China.

Slumdogs and small towns

By Kalpana Sharma in infochange, Urban India, April 2009

Little is known or written about the 2,000 small and medium towns of India. The one characteristic that defines them all, says this report from towns such as Madhubani, Jhunjhunu and Sehore, is the absence of planning. Many of these towns do not even possess an accurate town map. And up to a quarter of their population lives in slums.

In Madhubani town in North Bihar, the longest lines are outside one of the four ATM machines dispensing instant cash.  In Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan, many people keep their own cows or buffaloes for milk because they do not trust the local milk supply.  In Narnaul, Haryana, there are dozens of beauty parlours and one of the women nominated to the municipal council is a trained beautician.  In all three, the most popular advertisement is for mobile phones.


India’s small towns – symbols of urban blight

By Kalpana Sharma in infochange, Urban India, October 2008

68% of India’s urban population lives not in the metros but in towns with population of less than 100,000, many of which get water for a few minutes once a week or every alternate day. No one even talks about the appalling absence of infrastructure in these towns Most of us have a stereotypical image of small-town India.  Pitted roads, piles of garbage, open drains, stagnant pools of water, overhead electric wires, long power-cuts, acute water shortage etc.

That image is now changing with the success stories from small towns that the media is celebrating.  So Bhiwani in Haryana is suddenly in the news for having produced Olympic medal winners and other towns are home to amazingly talented young people who win television reality shows.  Dozens of our cricket stars come from smaller towns and cities, bringing to them a touch of glamour that they have never seen before. Of late there is also a touch of notoriety attached to small towns with a place like Azamgarh in Uttar Pradesh, once known for being the home of distinguished writers and poets like Kaifi Azmi, now being given the ‘terror’ tag and Bhatkal in Karnataka being mentioned as the home of the ‘mastermind’ of the Indian Mujahideen.

Urban India 2011: Evidence Report

A report by the Indian Institute for Human Settlements

India’s urban transition, a once in history phenomenon, has the potential to shift the country’s social, environmental, political and economic trajectory – a transition to be reckoned with. IIHS originally produced this book for the India Urban Conference: Evidence and Experience (IUC 2011), a series of events designed to raise the salience of urban challenges and opportunities in the ongoing debate on India’s development. The Urban India 2011: Evidence also marks the initiation of a series of thematic Urban Atlases in collaboration with leading scholars and practitioners.

A Tale of Many Cities: Governance and Planning in Karnataka

By Anil Kumar Vaddiraju:

Urban governance under the 74th Amendment Act has been ignored in Karnataka. A study of Dharwad district shows that the Act is not implemented in letter and spirit and governance and planning is done through a small section in the deputy commissioner’s/collector’s office and has no links with the chief planning office in the zilla panchayat.

Economic & Political Weekly, Vol – XLVIII No. 02, January 12, 2013

Population crunch in India: is it urban or still rural?

by Gururaja, KV and Sudhira, HS

2012 In: Current Science, 103 (1). pp. 37-40.

The article attempts to present analysis based on the provisional results of the Census 2011. While there is no doubt that the human social organization of the country is undergoing a transition, the nature of growth however is subject to the lens through which this is viewed. Noting the dichotomy of urban and rural definitions, we question the rationality of the ‘urban’ definition and its relevance.

Link to this paper

Urban India 2011: Evidence Report

A publication of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements

India’s urban transition, a once in history phenomenon, has the potential to shift the country’s social, environmental, political and economic trajectory – a transition to be reckoned with. IIHS originally produced this book for the India Urban Conference: Evidence and Experience (IUC 2011), a series of events designed to raise the salience of urban challenges and opportunities in the ongoing debate on India’s development. The Urban India 2011: Evidence also marks the initiation of a series of thematic Urban Atlases in collaboration with leading scholars and practitioners.


Urban Policies and the Right to the City in India

Below you will find an interesting publication available online here

Urban Policies and the Right to the City in India. Rights, responsibilities and citizenship

Marie-Hélène Zérah, Véronique Dupont, Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal (Scientific editors)

Parution : novembre 2011, UNESCO & Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, 180 p.

This publication is a compendium of 16 research policy-papers written by 14 eminent scholars covering several angles of the right to the city approach in India, including :

• Right to the City and Urban Citizenship
• The Constitutional and International Framework
• A Philosophical Reading of the RTTC
• Urban Governance : How Democratic ?
• Women’s Right to the City : from Safety to Citizenship ?
• Caste and Class in Indian Cities : Habitation, Inequality and Segregation
• Muslim Neighbourhoods and Segregation in the City
• Migrants’ (Denied) Rights to the City
• Urban Spatial Exclusion : A Historical Perspective
• Claiming Land : Rights, Contestations and the Urban Poor in Globalized Times
• The Challenges of Slums and Forced Evictions
• Urban Livelihoods : the City versus the Informal Economy
• Water and Sanitation : Barriers to Universalization
• Urban Transport and the Right to the City : Accessibility and Mobility
• The Retreat of the State in Healthcare Policy and the Right to the City
• A Human Rights’ Perspective for the Right to the City

The publication is intended as an advocacy tool to promote a rights-based approach to urbanization in India. A rights-based approach in the context of Indian cities has not yet been extensively documented and researched.

The publication aims to close this gap by providing policy makers with a set of experiences for better social inclusion in Indian cities, and initiatives in law and urban planning that strengthen rights and responsibilities, interfaith tolerance, and ensures the inclusion of the most vulnerable (urban poor, women, migrants) in urban management. It will serve as a solid reference point for policy makers at a local level, as well as a basis for the exchange of knowledge between researchers, city professionals and local authorities on building inclusive cities.

Rethinking Urban Democracy in South Asia

Below you will find the latest publication of the South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal.

 South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal


‘Rethinking Urban Democracy 

in South Asia’


accessible in full at :”” including


Introduction : Urban Democracy—A South Asian Perspective

by Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal and Marie-Hélène Zérah


‘It Does Not Die’ – Urban Protest in Kolkata, 1987-2007  
An interview with Ranabir  Samaddar

by V. Ramaswamy
Tej City. Protests in Mumbai, 1988-2008

by Djallal G. Heuzé

Bystander Tactics: Life on Turf in Karachi

by Tania Ahmad
The Making of a ‘Colony’ in Karachi and the Politics of Regularisation

by Haris Gazdar and Hussain Bux Mallah


Urban Segregation and the Special Political Zone in Ahmedabad: An Emerging Paradigm for Religio-Political Violence

by Arvind Rajagopal


SAMAJ’s lastest publications also include:



Party Political Panthers: Hegemonic Tamil Politics and the Dalit Challenge

by Hugo Gorringe
Indian Folk Music and ‘Tropical Body Language’: The Case of Mauritian Chutney

by Catherine Servan-Schreiber


Book Reviews

Ravi Sundaram, Pirate Modernity: Delhi’s Media Urbanism

by Diya Mehra

Anne-Sophie Bentz, Les réfugiés tibétains en Inde: Nationalisme et exil 

by Julie Humeau
Thomas Barfield, Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History

by M. Jamil Hanifi
Dilip Subramanian, Telecommunications Industry in India: State, Business and Labour in a Global Economy

by David Picherit

Method in Madness: Urban Data from 2011 Census

A paper by Amitabh Kundu

Economic and Political Weekly                2011                     October 01, vol XLVI n°40.

The 2011 Census has reported a marginally higher growth in the urban population, yet it also reports a phenomenal increase of 2,774 new “census towns” – greater than the number of such new towns identified in all of the 20th century. Could this be the result of some kind of census activism working under pressure to report a higher pace of urbanisation? Since the Census of India has a reputation for rigour, it is imperative that the methodology for identification of new towns and possible changes from the past are made public.


Emerging Pattern of Urbanisation in India

A Paper by R. B. Bhagat

Economic and Political Weekly                        August 20, 2011 vol XLVI no 34.

First published results of the 2011 Census show that the level of urbanisation increased faster during 2001-2011 than the previous decade.

This paper purposes a personal reading of the observed new trends in urbanisation, the components of urban growth and a state level analysis.