During the nineteenth century, when the British firmly established themselves politically in India, urbanization in India entered a different phase. Cities like Calcutta,
Bombay and Madras evolved from mere trading centres to political centres. This period also saw rapid technological advancements, new modes of transport and communication, emergence of new economic institutions, etc. All this made the process of urbanization quicker and smoother.
While urban centres gained in prosperity, the rural areas of India became neglected.Cottage industries and rural artisans suffered a lot because of the exploitative economic policies of the British. This forced the rural artisans and other workers to migrate to cities in search of wage employment. Thus, it can be said that the process of urbanization strengthened the cities at the expense of the villages.
With the spread of education in these urban centres, the educated sections
joined the bureaucracy or took up jobs as teachers, doctors, lawyers, journalists etc. They became the intelligentsia and the elites of the Indian society and aligned their world view with the western world. They also brought about new political and economic ideas.
The new process of urbanization provided ample scope for occupational and social mobility and slowly broke the stranglehold of the caste system. This process, which got a boost during the nineteenth century, gathered greater momentum in the twentieth century.
From the beginning of the twentieth century and especially after independence, urbanization in India has taken place at a fast pace. The modern Indian cities have become centres of economic, political, administrative and cultural power. The pattern of urbanization in the twentieth century can be understood in terms of its demographic, spatial, economic and socio-cultural aspects.
A. Demographic aspect:
Population has always been an important aspect of urbanization in India. The Indian population growth exploded in the twentieth century and as a result, urban population also grew rapidly. The share of urban population in India has grown
from 10.8 per cent in 1901 to 31 per cent in 2011. The steady growth in urban population over the last 110 years has been partly due to rapid economic development in the cities and towns and partly due to the slow agricultural growth in the rural areas.
B. Spatial aspect:
The Indian urban scenario has witnessed a lot of spatial disparities. These disparities are the result of regional disparities, imbalanced concentration of population in
certain areas and changes in the definition of urban areas in the census. These disparities can be observed from the following facts:
• Increase and decrease in the number of towns and cities due to changes in the definition of urban areas
• Variation of urbanization amongst different states with urban domination in states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
• Concentration of urban population in the big cities with the population in
such cities growing much faster than in other smaller towns.
• Growth of metropolitan cities with population of more than one million
It is important to know about the following two concepts while talking about the spatial aspect of urbanization in India.
C• Over-urbanization: Cities and towns do not have an unlimited capacity to accommodate the growing population and providing them with civic amenities, medical facilities, schools, etc. Thus, when the population of a city goes Urban Community beyond a certain limit, the administration of that city fails to provide its citizens with the requisite facilities. It is at this juncture that a city is said to have become over-urbanized. Cities like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata are examples of such over-urbanization.
D• Sub-urbanization: When cities and towns get over populated, they expand beyond their boundaries and take the adjoining rural areas within their fold. This phenomenon is known as sub-urbanization. Thus, sub-urbanization refers to the urbanization of rural areas around the towns and cities and it is
characterized by the following features:
o A sharp increase in the urban uses of land.
o Inclusion of the surrounding areas within the municipal limits of the towns and cities.
o Intensive communication of all types between the town or city and its
E. Economic aspect:
Urbanization is both a cause and a consequence of economic development. It is more of a consequence because economic development entails a huge movement of labour and other inputs from the rural areas to the towns and cities. The National Commission on Urbanization of India recognizes the importance of the Indian cities and towns. It considers urbanization to be a catalyst for economic development.
When we look at the various cities in India, we see that some have come up
at places where there was no habitation at all. One of the earliest steel cities in India was Jamshedpur. It was the result of the setting up of the Tata Steel Plant, which has provided employment to members of the Santhal tribe that stayed nearby.
Apart from Jamshedpur, three more steel cities also emerged after independence. They were Rourkela in Orissa, Bhilai in Chattisgarh and Durgapur in West Bengal. These steel cities and steel factories completely modified the whole socio–economic
scenario of that area. They progressed from being backward areas to cosmopolitan and prosperous urban centres. Thus, you see the important and crucial role played by industries in urbanizing India.