Category Archives: Relevant Publications

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

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

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

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.


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

Book Review: Re-visioning Indian cities

This is a book review written by Julien Bordagi, PhD Candidate

Institut Français de Pondichéry – Avignon University (France)

The author exposed his reading of Re-visioning Indian cities: The Urban Renewal Mission book written by Sivaramakrishnan and edited by Sage Publications (2011).

The review sums up the main ideas introduced in the book and discusses some particular points.

Download here.

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

Small towns, urban studies and India: literature review

These two working papers, have been written by Rémi de Bercegol.

The first one, highlights how the studies of small towns can help to the global understanding of urban area. The second focuses on the Indian literature and raises the question of the adequacy of urban policies in the case of small towns. See the link below (French Version only).

Small town and urban studies

Small Indian towns in the shadow of the greatest one

Neo-liberalism and Its Discontents

A paper by Sirisha C. Naidu

Economic and Political Weekly        October 15, 2011 vol XLVI no 42.

This paper is reviewing the book India’s new economic policy: a critical analysis edited by W. Ahmed, A. Kundu and R. Peet.

This book looks at the major effects of the economic liberalisation on the economic growth and the indian society. This present review focuses on three dominant thematics: urbanisation, the processes of development and environmentalism, and resistances to economic liberalisation.


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.