Category Archives: Newspaper articles

Moving people and morphing places

New census towns have accounted for 30% of the reclassification from rural to urban in the last 10 years

Why do census towns matter? Their share of urban population has doubled in the last 10 years, but they still comprise only one-seventh of urban India. But they matter because their growth challenges many preconceptions and myths that equate urbanization to migration, municipalities to urban areas, villages to agriculture, and cities to manufacturing.

Census towns are not about moving people, they are about morphing places. In the last 10 years, the reclassification of population from rural to urban as a result of identification of new census towns is responsible for nearly 30% of the growth in the urban population, while migration appears to account for less, around 22%, with the rest being the normal natural increase in pre-existing cities.

By Partha Mukhopadhaya (CPR) for live mint, 7th October 2007

Full article here

Zero amenities, yet census towns hit the property jackpot

The land prices in Chandpur have risen 10-fold in the last decade

Census towns, with their low or non-existent rural property taxes and cheap land prices, are often attractive destinations for second home buyers, who are moving in and putting strain on land use and the village-level administration all over India.

Neral, in the Raigad district of Maharashtra, is another destination for second home buyers. The population of the hill station, which became a census town in 2001, has increased from 14,000 to more than 24,000 since then. Higher housing prices in Mumbai’s satellite towns of Kalyan, Ambernath and Panvel have pushed buyers further, according to Amita Bhide, associate professor of the urban planning centre at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.

Small- and medium-size industries, forced to move out of Mumbai due to stricter pollution controls, are swelling the population of sleepy villages on the periphery of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, Bhide said.

Kishore Jain, a developer and builder in Neral, said that second home buyers and investors are not the only reason for this jump. “A few people are buying flats as second homes or for investment purposes, but the majority are buying with the intention to settle here, as property rates are within the budget of the common man,” Jain said.

However the population boom has put added strain on the water supply to the village, and the panchayat has had to ask for help from the state government to augment its resources.

Cordelia Jenkins, Anuja and Makarand Gadgil  for live mint – 04 Oct. 2012

The full article here

Led by census towns, migration mixes up urbanization

Census towns are largely the outcome of local populace forcing a change in their rural settings

“Kerala is a different story to the rest,” said Partha Mukhopadhyay, a senior research fellow at think tank Centre for Policy Research in Delhi. “There it’s desakota, the border between rural and urban is very hazy. The physical agglomeration was always there, but these were villages and so, from the census point of view, they were never part of an urban agglomeration. In the last 10 years, they have all reached that point and become urban.”

The term desakota (from the Indonesian words meaning village-city) describes a mix of agricultural and non-agricultural areas that sprawl in corridors between cities.

Boom in census towns

Population densities are high and labour is diverse—desakota are the perfect breeding grounds for census towns.

Census towns mimic statutory towns. While the latter are ordained by the state and hence acquires a governance mechanism through municipalities, census towns are largely an outcome of the local populace forcing a change in their rural settings.

In Kerala, with its pre-existing phenomenon of contiguity, this process has seen a natural acceleration in the last decade as people became more affluent, thanks to remittances from the Gulf, and the local economy prospered.

Not surprisingly then, Kerala saw the creation of 360 new census towns between 2001 and 2011, second only to West Bengal. According to Mukhopadhyay, the spurt of urbanization in the past decade in Kerala has been almost entirely powered by census towns. Their population is growing as migrants—from as far away as Assam, West Bengal and Orissa—move in.

Shamsheer Yousaf, Cordelia Jenkins and Anupama Chandrashekharan for live mint – 05 Oct. 2012

The full article here

Startup ventures are betting big on India’s small-town boom

In places largely bypassed by the big-name brands, enterprising businessmen are building malls, multiplexes and retail businesses to take the latest in shopping and consumer trends to small-town India.

A Nielsen study late last year mentions that Middle India, a region made up of approximately 400 towns, each with a population of 1-10 lakh, is home to 100 million Indians and accounts for a fifth of the overall consumption of fast moving consumer goods.

In The Economic Times, 31 August 2012

Big ideas, small towns

In a country where innovation is just beginning to take root, start-ups like Foradian represent a new wave of small-town innovators. Their origins give them a better perspective on the adversity and diverse challenges presented by India’s vast geography. Unlike large companies who sell their products at a premium, plus added costs of customisation and support, small-town innovators’ solutions are inclusive and cost effective.

The Indian Express, 16 April 2012