Urbanization and its Problems

Urbanization – How did it Develop?

Urbanization refers to the process of increase in population in cities and towns compared to rural areas. Urbanization in India is not new. The Indus valley civilization had planned cities. These cities had huge population with planned housing, roads and other facilities.

Urbanization is also common in Greek and Roman empire. The population was concentrated in cities like Rome where all modern amenities made available. For Example, Ancient Rome had a network of piped water that was brought from the outskirts of city. Rome also had marketplaces and entertainment facilities for its city residents.

Modern day urbanization began with the advent of Industrial Revolution in England. More number of people took up jobs in factories. They began residing in houses around the factories. All the amenities needed for living were available nearby and the modern city was born. Unlike the urban cities of ancient world, the modern city in England had poor housing and roads and provided very low quality of life.

Facts about Urbanization in India


Urbanization in India developed at a faster rate after independence. Some of the factors that were responsible for urbanization in India were

  1. A rapid growth in economy                                                  
  2. Increase in per capita income( ie., the average income of per person of a population)
  3. Increase in the growth of private sector jobs, especially the services sector which has cities as their base. For Example, Software companies are found mostly in cities.
  4. Rise in demand for modern amenities
  5. Impact of cities in the west
  6. A faster growth in population

Problems of Indian cities

Indian cities occupy very low rankings compared to world cities in many surveys. For Example, The 2016 Cities in Motion Index gave a low ranking to Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. Some cities like Hyderabad have performed well but the overall scenario of Indian cities is that they offer a very low quality of life.

The following chart provides a glimpse of problems of Indian cities.

Effects of Urbanization

Urbanization has widespread effects in all areas of human  life. It has the following positive effects

  1. The growth of service sector and the jobs that it offers in cities has improved the economic growth in India. Services sector alone contributes to more than 50% of India’s economy. The urban areas are very important to sustain this sector.
  2. Urbanization in India has provided modern facilities like shopping complexes, suburban and metro trains and in general a higher ease and comfort of living compared to rural India.
  3. At a societal level urban areas have lost the oppression of caste system which is still prevalent in rural areas. Thus cities have provided equality to all sections of population.

Despite the positive effects there are many downsides to urbanization

At a Societal Level:

  1. Urban areas have a lifestyle that is centred around individualism.
  2. As a result there is no communal bonding between people as it is present in the villages.

At a Family level:

  1. Urban jobs are mostly centered around corporates. They have higher number of working hours. The resulting stress causes rift in the families. For Example, the prevailing high rates of divorce among software employees
  2. The use of gadgets is more widespread in urban areas and the resulting ‘gadgetisation‘ reduces the interpersonal communication in the family

At an Economic level:

  • Urban areas have high rates of consumption. This results in strain in production of food and other products. The increased demand for these consumables results in inflation.
  • Increase in urbanization can reduce the amount of land available for cultivation and may hamper agricultural productivity.

At an Environment level:

  1. Clearing green spaces like trees and parks and construction of building in every inch of space has made the Indian cities unfriendly to nature.
  2. Cities consume more ecological resources like building materials and timber for its construction. This results in felling of more forests for timber.
  3. The problems of garbage, improper sewage disposal produces a very low air quality. For Example, In Bangalore Toxic fumes covered most of the city and caused severe health hazards.
  4. PollutionDelhi is suffering from severe degradation of air quality that resulted in many air pollution related illness.
  5. Indiscriminate exploitation of groundwater results in drying up  of aquifers. This results not only in water shortage but also the water available is high in toxic chemicals
  6. The concept of Urban Heat Island, ie., the covering of natural soil of earth with concrete results in rise in temperature.
  7. All these have resulted in Indian cities becoming highly unsustainable.

Measures by the Government to improve our Urban Landscape: 

Smart Cities Program:

Smart cities program was launched for renovating Indian cities. It aims at creating state of the art urban infrastructure coupled with digital solutions. It aims at improving the citizen centric administration in cities and make them ecologically sustainable. Presently Government has taken up 109 cities to launch the program. The following diagram provides an outline of the aims of Smart City program in an illustrative manner.

Image Source: MyGov.in

Swacch Bharat Abhiyan:

  1. Swacch Bharat Abhiyan is a cleanliness campaign launched by the Government of India.
  2. It aims at cleaning up all public places like roads, parks and other infrastructure.  It also aims at improving the sanitation facilities.
  3. The campaign saw mass participation from all sections of the population including the general public, government employees, school children and even cinema artists.
  4. It was highly successful and it improved the cleanliness and hygiene of our country in general and urban areas in particular.

Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT ):

AMRUT was launched to achieve the following broad objectives in  urban areas.

  1. sewerage networks
  2. water supply

As many as 500 cities has been taken up by the Government for implementing this project.

The scheme aims at the following targets

  1. Access to tap water and hygienic sewerage facilities
  2. Green spaces like parks and open spaces to be clean
  3. Digital amenities like weather prediction
  4. Internet and WiFi facilities in public spaces
  5. Pollution reduction by discouraging personal vehicles and use of public transport

National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY):

  1. HRIDAY was launched by the Government for protecting the heritage cities in India.
  2. They aim at improving the core heritage cities, their monuments and places of historical interest.
  3. It also aims to rebuild the associated public infrastructure like roads and transportation that links these cities.
  4. The Scheme is aimed to be implemented initially in 12 Cities. They are Ajmer, Amaravati, Amritsar, Badami, Dwarka, Gaya, Kanchipuram, Mathura, Puri, Varanasi, Velankanni and Warangal.
  5. These cities showcase the culture of India. They are also visited by tourists from many foreign countries.
  6. Thus it is necessary to provide them with all facilities like modern public transport, well maintained roads, proper parking services, information centres etc.,



  1. Wikipedia
  2. The Hindu
  3. indiatimes.com
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