India@100: What’s ahead for urbanisation?

Source: The post is based on the article “India@100: What’s ahead for urbanisation?” published in the Business Standard on 22nd September 2022.

Syllabus: GS 1: Urbanisation, their problems and their remedies.

Relevance: Solution to India’s urbanisation.

News: The pace at which India urbanises will be a defining factor in achieving India’s developmental goals in the next 25 years.

What is the current pace of India’s urbanisation?

Since the 1950s, the speed of urbanisation in India has witnessed a consistent rise. According to the World Urbanisation Prospects (2018 Revision), an urbanisation growth rate of 2.4% was observed between 2010 and 2018.

By 2022, India’s projected rate of urbanisation was expected to be 35.9%, and by 2047, this is expected to increase to approximately 50.9%.

Must read: Urbanisation and the Need for Sustainable Cities – Explained, pointwise
What are the challenges faced in India’s urbanisation?

Unplanned urbanisation: This resulted in Indian cities are plagued with issues like sewage management, urban planning, declining water table and air quality that negatively influences the ease of living.

Urbanisation follows the trajectory of economic development: Kerala has a projected urban population of around 73.19% in 2022, which is expected to increase to over 96% by 2036. In comparison, states like Assam and Bihar have an abysmal projected population of 15.4% and 12.2%, respectively, in 2022, which is expected to marginally increase to 17.16% and 13.2% by 2036.

Note: Union Territories like Delhi and Chandigarh are projected to be 100% urbanised in the same time period.

Asymmetric pattern of urbanisation: This is characterised by India’s unique social structure and kinship ties that tend to restrict mobility.

Read more: Increasing the pace of India’s urbanisation 
What should be done to make India’s urbanisation sustainable?

Match with peers: India has to unequivocally aim at matching the rate of urbanisation prevalent among its peers. At present, India is lagging behind its peers in urbanisation.

Focus on the micro level: Districts shape the larger economic spatiality of the country. So, India needs to pay attention to the impact of urbanisation at the micro level. According to a report, urban districts roughly account only for 30% of all districts in the country. So, India needs to focus on the districts lagging behind and push for a faster rate of planned urbanisation.

Planned urbanisation: Well-planned cities lead to a) value creation through optimal distribution and utilisation of resources, b) fosters ease of living and prosperity through sustainable growth and economic productivity of its citizens, and c) result in more stable social structure of cities.

So, India needs to 1) Redesign cities by looking at sustainable objectives and socio-economic growth and 2) Target key reform areas, from remodelling its urban governance system to making it more people-centric.

Maintain urbanisation rate: The urbanisation rate must be regulated to prevent a population surge only in larger cities. This will aid in the process of building sustainable pathways to socio-economic development.

Read more: Measures to promote sustainable urbanisation

A dual focus on planned and uniform urbanisation will provide global recognition for India’s urban story.

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