Professor & Director, Centre for Urban Economic Studies Department of Economics, Calcutta University
IASSI-Quarterly, 2017, Volume : 35, Issue : 3-4: 353-370
West Bengal, among the major states, was fourth in rank at the time of Independence, slid down to 7 in 2001. It has been above the all-India average through-out in level of urbanisation but the rate slowed down. There are reasons behind the loss of the pace of urbanisation in the state. Firstly, the partition of the country robbed away the urban hierarchy of the state, along with the economic forces behind urbanisation. The rate of urbanisation was slow and most of the new towns emerged around Kolkata or in the Durgapur-Asansol region. Primacy of the city of Kolkata was the most notable feature of urbanisation of the state. Most of the other Class I towns were also in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area. Inter-district disparities in level and pace of urbanisation showed the same trend over the decades. The districts in northern and western parts were least urbanised. The winds of change came in the eighties when the Left front Government went for land reform along with recording the names of the share-croppers. This led to a spurt in agricultural production especially paddy. On the urban front, conscious policy decisions for the development of non-metro towns and regular elections in the local self-government institutions (both urban and rural) also yielded some positive results towards balanced urbanisation. The primacy of Kolkata started to decline and the growth of urban population was more spatially spread. However, the results of 2011 census came almost as a surprise. At the national level, the rate of growth of urban population surpassed that of the rural and West Bengal, the growth rate jumped to 14%. Secondly, of the 2500+ new census towns of the country, West Bengal tops the list with about 582 new towns. Now, researches are going on to find out the reasons behind this change. This paper will look into the small and medium towns of West Bengal and discuss the issues of urban governance and planning for these towns.
de Bercegol, R., & Gowda, S.
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.