Good Urbanization for A Better Future - Daily Current Affair Article

Why in news?

  • Covid reinforces that good urbanization is our most powerful technology for poverty reduction.
  • Nobel Laureate Paul Romer describes technology as a different recipe rather than more cooks in the kitchen. Using his framing, cities are a technology for poverty reduction.
  • Covid is an opportunity to catalyze good urbanization by empowering our cities with more power and funds.
  • Norman Borlaug — the wizard — is a Nobel-winning scientist who believed science and technology will overcome challenges and he kick started the agricultural Green Revolution. William Vogt — the prophet — believed that prosperity would lead humans to ruin without cutting back and he kick started the environment movement.

Definition of Urbanization-

  • Urbanization refers to the population shift from rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. It is predominantly the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more people begin living and working in central areas.
  • Urbanization refers to the proportion of the total national population living in areas classified as urban, urban growth strictly refers to the absolute number of people living in those areas.
  • It is predicted that by 2050 about 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world will be urbanized.
  • Urbanization is relevant to a range of disciplines, including urban planning, geography, sociology, architecture, economics, and public health. The phenomenon has been closely linked to modernization, industrialization, and the sociological process of rationalization. Urbanization can be seen as a specific condition at a set time (e.g. the proportion of total population or area in cities or towns), or as an increase in that condition over time. Therefore, urbanization can be quantified either in terms of the level of urban development relative to the overall population, or as the rate at which the urban proportion of the population is increasing.
  • Urbanization is not merely a modern phenomenon, but a rapid and historic transformation of human social roots on a global scale.
  • Urban culture is characterized by distant bloodlines, unfamiliar relations, and competitive behavior. This unprecedented movement of people is forecast to continue and intensify during the next few decades, mushrooming cities to sizes unthinkable only a century ago. As a result, the world urban population growth curve has up till recently followed a quadratic-hyperbolic pattern.

Reasons for the opposition to Urbanization during COVID times and its parallel with food Technology debate in the 1960s- Norman Borlaug vs William Vogt :

  • Norman Borlaug — the wizard — is a Nobel-winning scientist who believed science and technology will overcome challenges and he kick started the agricultural Green Revolution. William Vogt — the prophet — believed that prosperity would lead humans to ruin without cutting back and he kick started the environment movement. One says innovate; the other says retreat.
  • But cutting back on urbanization would hurt the three transitions — farm to non-farm, informal to formal, and school to work — that are raising per capita incomes. India’s problem is not land (if we had Singapore’s density all our people could fit into Kerala), labor or capital (we are the world’s largest receiver of diaspora remittances and FDI). Our challenge is the productivity upside of good urbanization. And if 50 per cent of our population in rural areas generate only 18 per cent of the GDP, they are condemned to poverty.
  • The main opposition against urbanization arose when pandemic began as people mainly migrants and unorganizedsectors' workers found difficult to sustain their lives in cities due to lockdown and in the absence of permanent shelter and food.
  • The debate that made headlines is that , although having so many metropolitan cities and million plus cities, our country was in grave situation in providing support to huge population of migrant workers residing in cities temporarily , and this showed the dark pages of urbanization . The workers were in pathetic conditions when in cities, they didn’t have routine food, absence of medical facilities during lockdown. And due this fear, they started returning to their villages.
  • So , this situation opened our eyes that we need “good urbanization”, in place of “urbanization”.

Reasons for migration to urban areas- pull and push factors:

  • The Economic Survey of India 2017 estimates that the magnitude of inter-state migration in India was close to 9 million annually between 2011 and 2016.
  • According to the 2011 Census, the number of internal migrants rose to 453.6 million.
  • According to the International Migrant Stock 2019report (released by the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs), India with 5 million international migrants has emerged as the top source of international migrants, constituting 6.4% of world’s total migrant population.
  • Streams of Migration:Four streams are identified:
  • rural to rural (R-R);
  • rural to urban (R-U);
  • urban to urban (U-U); and
  • urban to rural (U-R)

Spatial Variation in Migration:

  • The cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata are the largest destinations for internal migrants in India
  • Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are the biggest source states, followed closely by Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, and Rajasthan.
  • The major destination states are Maharashtra, UP, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Kerala.


  • Internal migration
  • External migration

Internal migration-

  • The number of internal migrants in India was 450 million as per the most recent 2011 census. This is an increase of 45% over the 309 million recorded in 2001. Internal migrants as a percentage of population increased from 30% in 2001 to 37% in 2011.
  • When a person is enumerated in the census at a different place than his / her place of birth, she/he is considered a migrant.
  • Female Migration: Out of the total internal migrants, 7 percent are women (Census of India 2001) and marriage is one of the major reasons for female migration in both the rural and urban areas.
  • Male Migration: Migration for employment-related reasons is one of the prominent reasons for male migration in both rural and urban areas.

Causes of Internal Migration:

  • Urbanization: Rural-urban migration is a major characteristic of urban transition in countries.
  • The rates of urbanization influence rural-urban wage differences.
  • An increase in the demand for labor in urban areas and better wages increase migration.
  • The pull factors of better job facilities, good salary, and more income, medical and educational facilities are attracting the rural people to move to the cities.
  • The push factors of no job facilities, low salary, less income, drought, less medical and education compel people towards cities.

Push Factors and Pull Factor:

  • Marriage: marriage is an important social factor for migration. As observed by Census 2001, in case of intra-state migrant’s majority of the migration is from one rural area to another, due to marriage in case of females.
  • Employment:The prime reason for migration from rural to urban areas and urban to urban areas is search for better employment in industries, trade, transport and services.
  • Education: Due to lack of educational facilities in rural areas, people migrate to the urban areas for better academic opportunities. In the 2011 census, about 1.77% people migrated for education.
  • Lack of security: Political disturbances and interethnic conflicts is another reason for internal migration.
  • Environmental and disaster induced factors:There are migrants who are forced to move from rural to urban areas as a result of an environmental disaster that might have destroyed their homes and farms.People are also forced to migrate from their traditional habitats due to gradual deterioration of changing environmental conditions.There can also be forced displacement due to reasons such as developmental projects. According to a Lok Sabha Report, 2013 around 50 million people have been displaced to the name of development projects over 50 years in India.

Issues in megacities:

  • Demographic Profile: Emigration in large numbers can alter demographic profiles of communities, as most of the young men move out, leaving only the women and elderly to work on the land.
  • Political Exclusion: Migrant workers are deprived of many opportunities to exercise their political rights like the right to vote.
  • Population Explosion and the Influx of workers in the place of destination increases competition.
  • Brain Drain: Source state suffers from the loss of human capital.
  • Increased Slum: Mass Migration results into an increase in slum areas, compromising quality of infrastructure and life at the destination, which further translates into many other problems such as unhygienic conditions, crime, pollution, etc.

Some good examples of Urbanization- Tokyo, Marchetti constant:

  • Megacities are not cursed. Tokyo has a third of Japan’s population but planning and investments have ensured that essential workers like teachers, nurses, and policemen don’t commute two hours.
  • The most insightful metric for city quality came from Italian physicist Cesare Marchetti who suggests that 30 minutes has been the most acceptable — or shall we say civilized — commute through history (even as the method changed from walking to horses to bicycles to trains to cars).
  • The Marchetti constant is almost impossible in Bengaluru where taxi and auto speeds average 8 km/hour.

The financial condition of local government in India- Finance commission report:

  • The annual spend of our central government is about Rs. 34 lakh crore and of 28 state governments is about Rs 40 lakh crore. But the 15th Finance Commission estimates our 2.5 lakh plus local government bodies only spend Rs 3.7 lakh crore annually.

Reasons for poor financial position and other issues with local government in India- path dependence:

  • This apartheid has many reasons. First is power; local government is curtailed by state government departments in water, power, schools, healthcare, etc. (property tax collection would be 100 per cent if municipal bodies supplied water). The second is independence — only 13 per cent and 44 per cent of the budget of rural and urban bodies was raised themselves.
  • Third is : Union ministry controlling finance and governance of the states would be unacceptable at the Centre but the Department of Local Self Government in the states has almost unlimited powers (suspension/removal of mayors and other elected representatives or super cession of elected local bodies is almost routine in most states).
  • Fourth, having separate central rural and urban ministries distorts policy. Finally, the lack of power and resources sets off a vicious cycle of decline because ambitious and talented individuals aren’t attracted to city leadership.
  • India’s local government challenge reflects what historians call path dependence; unlike others, our democracy didn’t evolve bottom-up with local government rolling up into state governments that came together as a nation. India inherited a nationally centralized structure (a must for a colonial power) and princely states (with legitimacy, structures and resources) got strong powers in the constitution.

Role of good urbanization in promotion of social justice for women, children, and Dalits:

  • Good urbanization is also crucial to delivering economic justice for women, children and Dalits.
  • Poor quality urbanization has meant men-only migration, leaving the women with all the hard labor of farm work, raising the children, and looking after in-laws, while having virtually no recourse to health services, or to even emotional support of the spouse.
  • Village children going to abysmal-quality government schools without bilingual possibilities places them at a disadvantage in English-dominated entrance tests for professional courses and civil services.
  • Though not great by any standards, the quality of both healthcare and education in cities remains better than villages by miles. Most painfully, Dalits in villages are often denied the dignity that urban anonymity provides.
  • Good urbanization includes development and welfare of all sections of society- quality education for all children, women’s livelihood opportunities, inclusion of all in the society.
    Recent measures to strengthen governance at the local level- Education as eligibility criteria, Smart city mission and other initiatives to built a good urbanization:
  • Recently, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (MoHUA) organized an online event to commemorate six years of the three transformative Urban Missions vis. Smart Cities Mission (SCM), Atal Mission for Urban Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana-Urban (PMAY-U).
  • PMAY-U: 1.12 crore houses sanctioned and over 83 lakh houses grounded under PMAY-U.16 lakh families benefited from PMAY-U’s Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS).
  • AMRUT:So far, 1.05 crore household water tap connections and 78 lakh sewer/ sepatage connections provided under AMRUT Mission.About 88 lakh street lights were replaced with energy efficient LED lights leading to energy savings.84.6 lakh tons carbon footprint was reduced through various initiatives under AMRUT, as per The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI).

Smart City Mission:

  • About: It is an innovative initiative under the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, to drive economic growth and improve the quality of life of people by enabling local development and harnessing technology as a means to create smart outcomes for citizens.
  • Objective: To promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of Smart Solutions.
  • Focus: On sustainable and inclusive development and to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a lighthouse to other aspiring cities.
  • Integrated Command and Control Centres (ICCCs) equip cities to do more with less by graduating to real time data driven decision making with better situational awareness in an integrated manner. ICCCs are expected to deliver specific outcomes focusing on bringing positive impact on day-to-day life of the citizens.
  • Education as eligibility criteria to get elected into the working of executive and legislative system:
  • This will definitely help to understand the technicalities alongside with feasibility of using various tools and resources to transform into good urbanization stage.
  • Elected personnel from educated background have enough knowledge about the importance and proactive implementation of various schemes in such a way to attain maximum benefit in a time bound manner to reach the stage of development of cities and villages in a sustainable manner.
  • Recently state of Haryana and Punjab passed a bill which set education criteria for getting elected. In case of men from general category, he must have passed matriculation or equivalent. In case of women from general category of men from SC/ST community, this qualification is Class VIII. And in case of women from SC/ST community, this qualification is Class V.

Way forward-

Good urbanization — getting power and funds to cities — needs chief ministers to sacrifice self-interest. Their reward will be undying dues of millions waiting for high-quality jobs and opportunities. India is lucky that Norman Borlaug prevailed over William Vogt in the food technology debate.

Good urbanization includes development of cities and villages in a sustainable manner with growth of all- be it women, children, minorities, elders etc.

Convergence of various government schemes and multi stakeholder engagement will lead us to our goal of inclusive and urbanizedIndia with the absence of poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition.

General Studies Paper 1
  • Urbanization