Category Archives: Team Members Publications

Understanding Economic Processes in Small Towns

PART 4 OF A SERIES OF INTERPRETATIONS DRAWING ON A NEW BOOK ON SMALL TOWNS

In this interview, Eric Denis, Director of Research at Géographie-cités lab, CNRS, Paris, discusses some of the varied processes characterising small town economics. What kind of economic processes do we see emerging in small towns? We can summarise the multiple and complex economic processes playing out in small towns into four broad types. Locally, these four ideal-types are interlaced with each other: Small towns are incorporated into metropolitan and large cities, Small towns are entrepreneurial, resilient and innovative localities, Small towns are ordinary market towns, Small towns are large villages that expand and grow including a work-force moving away from the farm sector.

What is happening beyond large cities? Understanding census towns in India

Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi,  1 December 2017

By Kanhu Charan Pradhan from CPR, who was among the first scholars to highlight the specific role of Census Towns in the 2001-2011 period, draws on his earlier research to explain the role of census towns in understanding the pattern of urbanisation in India.

Beyond large cities, understanding census towns

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By  Kanhu Charan Pradhan
Small towns, those with less than 100,000 population, account for 90 per cent of Indian cities and over 40 per cent of the urban Indian population. Understanding India is necessary to understanding global urbanisation, and this goes beyond the overwhelming attention given to metropolitan and large cities. Scholars at the Centre for Policy Research, Delhi, have initiated a series of studies to understand the changing dynamics of small towns in India and their contribution to the process of urbanisation.

Impact of subaltern urbanisation

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Coining the term ‘Subaltern Urba­nisation’ can be seen as polemical but it seeks to embody two important strands that shape a common thinking around the potential role of small towns.

First, it attempts to make small places intelligible in contrast to their current level of invisibility in India and at the international level. Second, it tries to think of small towns as sites endowed with some level of autonomy and agency while the dominant paradigm, in particular in the New Economic Geography school of thought, sees small urban spaces as dependent on large metropolitan economies.

Dynamism and Fragility of the Non-metropolitan Development in India. The Kartarpur Example: A Small Cluster-city of Craft Woodworkers

de Bercegol, R., & Gowda, S.

Espaces et sociétés, 2017 (1), 147-170.

Abstract

Urbanisation in India is usually perceived as the problem of huge metropolises. The focus of this paper is on small conurbations in which specific urban dynamics emerge and contribute also to the current urban transformations. One of them, Kartarpur, is a small cluster-city of craft woodworkers. It shows both the dynamism and the fragility of this non-metropolitan urbanisation. The remarkable expansion of a small furniture industry is linked with endogenous factors rooted in a specific territory, far away from metropolitan development schemes. The analysis shows how a territorial cluster of local craftsmen, putting together their traditional know-how, allowed the creation of a real added-value which is upset by current neo-liberal evolutions.

Subaltern Urbanisation in India: An Introduction to the Dynamics of Ordinary Towns

Editors: Denis, Eric  & Zérah, Marie-Hélène (Eds.)

2017 – Springer India –  Exploring Urban Change in South Asia

Table of contents

Provides a grounded critical theory of the dominant models of urbanisation, notably the assumed relationship between globalisation and metropolisation.

This volume decentres the view of urbanisation in India from large agglomerations towards smaller urban settlements. It presents the outcomes of original research conducted over three years on subaltern processes of urbanization. The volume is organised in four sections. A first one deals with urbanisation dynamics and systems of cities with chapters on the new census towns, demographic and economic trajectories of cities and employment transformation. The interrelations of land transformation, social and cultural changes form the topic of the “land, society, belonging” section based on ethnographic work in various parts of India (Karnataka, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Tamil Nadu). A third section focuses on public policies, governance and urban services with a set of macro-analysis based papers and specific case studies. Understanding the nature of production and innovation in non metropolitan contexts closes this volume. Finally, though focused on India, this research raises larger questions with regard to the study of urbanisation and development worldwide.

Urbanization and Spatial Patterns of Internal Migration in India

S Chandrasekhar, & Ajay Sharma

Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai, May 2014
With an urbanization level of 31.16 percent in 2011, India is the least urbanized country among the top 10 economies of the world. In addition, unlike other countries, the transition of workforce out of
agriculture is incomplete. This coupled with jobless growth in recent years has contributed to an increase in certain migration streams. While rural-rural migration continues to be the largest in terms of magnitude, we also document an increase in two-way commuting across rural and urban areas. Further, there are a large number of short term migrants and an increase in return migration rate is also observed.

Urbanization and Spatial Patterns of Internal Migration in India. Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/276431141_Urbanization_and_Spatial_Patterns_of_Internal_Migration_in_India [accessed Aug 16, 2015].

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.

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.

On the Spatial Concentration of Employment in India

S Chandrasekhar and Ajay Sharma
Indira Gandhi Institute of Development Research, Mumbai
January 2014, WP-2014-002 full text here

This paper seeks to understand what kind of economic activities are concentrated in which regions of India. Spatial concentration of jobs is measured by calculating the location quotient using information on the industry of work of the individuals in a region. The paper uses data from NSSO 2011-12 survey of employment and unemployment.

 

The future of India’s urbanization

By Elfie Swerts, Denise Pumain & Eric Denis – Géographie-Cités, Paris

Futures, 2013

In 2050, urban India will be home to fourteen per cent of the world’s urban population. In less than thirty years, half of India’s population will have to cope with urban life and there will be tremendous transformation of landscape, economic structure and social life. In order to forecast India’s urban future, we assumed that secular and contemporary growth trajectories of all individual urban agglomerations are key drivers of future urbanization trends. We demonstrate that India’s city-system conforms to the distributed growth model and that its hierarchical distribution is evolving regularly. India’s plurisecular city-system fits well with the canonical model that describes universally the system dynamics. It shares common characteristics with several mature urban structures around the world. We show also that the location of the town has little influence on its growth trajectory. Nevertheless, individual trajectories can be classified, either by the secular trend of towns (1901-2011) or on the basis of the more recent genesis of the contemporary urban agglomerations landscape (1961 to 2011). These classifications are structured over time and space according to subsystems and regional specificities.