Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Population growth and terrorism in Pakistan

Dr. Devendra K. Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action

The provisional results of the 2017 Pakistan Census were released on 25 August 2017. According to the results, the total population in Pakistan was 207,774,520, representing a 57% increase in 19 years. The provisional results exclude data from Gilgit-Baltisan and Azad Kashmir which is likely to be included in the final report in 2018.  It appears that the released numbers are under estimated. Pakistan's population should be at least 25 crore. It seems that Pakistan's population is purposely being under reported. The Sind Government has already protested. 

India population from 1998 to 2017 grew by 30%. Pakistan's population has grown by 57% during same period, around double than India. Currently, population of India is growing 1.1% per annum. 

The Pakistani census results indicate an average annual growth of 2.4% since 1998, when the total population was put at 13.2 crore. Yes, it is a significant growth rate and has several implications for the wellbeing of the World at large with special reference to South Asia. 

South Asia or the Indian sub-continent comprises of seven countries – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The population of South Asia is about 184 crore in 2017 or about one fourth of the world's population, making it both the most populous and most densely populated geographical region in the world. India is the largest and the most populous country with a population of 132 crore people. Pakistan is the second most populous country in the region with population around 21 crore and ranks the fifth in the World after China, India, USA and Indonesia with the one of the highest population growth not only in South Asia but in the world. Overall, it accounts for about 12% of south Asia's population (or over 2.8% of the world's population) and 97 per cent of its population is Muslim with low literacy rate. Pakistan is one of poorest countries in the region with 6th GDP per capita in the region followed by Nepal. 

Pakistan is a federation that comprises four provinces: Punjab, Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Sind, and Baluchistan; and four union territories including Gilgit-Baltisan and Azad Kashmir. The Census results reveal an acceleration in the population growth rate of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Baluchistan and Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) known for the terrorism activities, even as growth in Punjab and Sind has slowed compared to previous results. 

The results show that 3.1 crore people reside in KP, 50 lac in Fata, 4.8 crore in Sind, 1.3 crore in Baluchistan, while Punjab — the largest province in terms of population — houses 11.1 crore people.

Baluchistan, the least urbanized of Pakistan's provinces, has experienced the fastest average annual growth rate since 1998 of 3.4%. Punjab's average annual growth rate remained the slowest at 2.1%, slightly below the national average of 2.4 %.

The concentration of high population growth in the poorest and tribal regions of Pakistan presents its own set of challenges, “making it more difficult to eradicate poverty and inequality, to combat hunger and malnutrition, and to expand educational enrolment and health systems, all of which are crucial to the success of the new sustainable development agenda,” said John Wilmoth, Director of the UN Population Division.

It will also help to expedite the growth of terrorism. One has to remember that these areas are   known as a terrorist hotbed. A fundamental problem in social and political sciences is how to explain the root causes of terrorism. The vast literature has analyzed several determinants of terrorism. However, the precise role of demographic factors for the origin and evolution of terrorism in specific geo-economic areas is hardly known. Results here show that population growth of Pakistan seems to be basic for the source and evolution of terrorism. It is observed that   terrorism thrives in specific cultural zones with high growth rates of population combined with collective identity factors and low socioeconomic development as in the Middle East, according to the Prof. Mario Coccia of Arizona State University, USA. I also believe that the high growth rates of population in Pakistan, combined with acute environmental and socioeconomic stressors, can lead to cultural deviance, frustration and anger of individuals, and terrorism at large scale as happened in the Middle East. 

The galloping population growth will pose very serious problem for its survival. “We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond,” said President Trump while outlining his new strategy for the war in Afghanistan. Trump had harsh words for US ally Pakistan, saying Washington could "no longer be silent about Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations."

People in Pakistan are also worried about population growth. One of my friends said: “Control this population growth in our Pakistan before it's too late.”   “Over population and overload of Chinese debt - what a future awaits our children”, remarked another. General feeling is that “Pakistan can’t sustain this kind of population growth - we need strong policies to ensure there is no further growth – two or even child policy?”  In short, time has come to seriously address the issue of population explosion, it's eating resources and Pakistan cannot cope with it. 

Bangladesh is a good example; look at its growth rate versus Pakistan. In 1971, population of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) was 7.5 crore and the West Pakistan was 6.5 crore. 46 years later population of Bangladesh is 16.7 crore and that of Pakistan grew to 20.8 crore Bangladesh controlled its population through family planning, expanding women education and empowerment, rapid growth in public health facilities, etc. Pakistan really needs to work on to control its population at a sustainable level.

Time for Pakistan is to revisit its population policy and to revise implementation strategy for family planning programme. Failure to control population means failure in improving health, education and other social sectors as well as managing the spread of terrorism. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Managing Urban India (V) (Need for rethinking about urban governance)

Dr. Devendra K. Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action


To boost economy as well as human development, Modi government must invest resources in urbanization where they are really needed. 


 “The Prime Minister Modi said revamping urban governance should be at the core of the vision of the Ministry of Urban Development while chairing a high-level meeting on urban development issues,” a statement released by PMO.

In spite of constitutional amendments to empower urban local bodies, India's cities continue to reel under poor basic services, poor planning and lack of funds. Most of these are the spinoff or by-product of the poor governance. How can we revamp the urban governance system? 

Answer is: It is time to think local. While there are multiple reasons for India’s urban woes, one of the underlying problems is the absence of powerful and politically accountable leadership in the city. Our cities have a weak and fragmented institutional architecture in which multiple agencies with different bosses pull the strings of city administration. Understandably, the most touted urban governance reform is that of having a directly elected Mayor/Chairman. Recent reports indicate that Prime Minister is keen on this reform and has asked the Urban Development Ministry to consider ways of introducing it. [1]

It is almost 25 years since the 74th constitutional amendment mandated setting up of municipalities as institutions of self-government. But the spirit underpinning the amendment has been ignored by states even as they ask for decentralization and more powers from the Centre. Now rethinking is urgently needed.  It is because projections indicate that urban population will increase by another 200 million in the next 15 years, change cannot be postponed.

Nandan Nilekini, co-founder of and former CEO of Infosys,  is absolutely right in making a case for empowering the mayors and chairpersons of cities to deliver services and for effective crisis management.“Indian cities have been passive and subordinate to the state governments. The bulk of city taxes are collected by the state and central governments and administration is dominated by state-run agencies. The power of city administrations has been deliberately hollowed out since independence, as state governments superseded city authority and co-opted its power”. [2]

In other words, states have been reluctant to cede powers of taxation and control over their cities. The possibility of competition from the grass roots has made state political parties wary of an 'hour glass' effect, of being squeezed in the middle between a strong Centre and powerful cities. And no state chief minister wants to let go of the money and patronage that comes from controlling urban land, argues Nilekini. 

Urban governance reforms must be based on the principle of accountability. It is time to narrow accountability to a single office such as an elected mayor, as successful cities across the world do. For responsive urban governance, we need a powerful political executive in the city with more autonomy, whether directly or indirectly elected. The mayor should be the executive head of a city, equipped with sufficient legal powers and financial resources to get things done. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor introduced a private member’s bill to get balkanised urban governance system to function as a coherent body with appropriate legislative backing. But this should be done by states without any prompting, as noted by the TOI editorial.[3]
For local bodies to be able to function better, funds, functions and functionaries have to be devolved to them, municipal cadres have to be restructured and strengthened and the role of city officials   needs to be redefined clarifying their accountability to the elected system. The immediate ingredients of a revamped urban governance system could be:[4]         

  • Empowering the mayors/chairpersons, making them accountable to the people;
  • Enabling the city bodies to raise more resources;
  • Meaningful devolution;
  • Strengthened capacities of local bodies so that they can perform better in line with the aspirations and requirements of today’s urban dwellers; and
  • Evolving mechanisms whereby the citizen is in a position to actively and effectively participate in the urban governance process.

The foregoing discussion strongly argues that without local governments that answer directly to its civic citizens, it will be difficult to manage urban issues. India’s urban nightmare can be ended with legislative changes and capacity building. In this respect, vesting the executive powers of the Municipal Corporation and/municipality with the Mayor/Chairman would be a very positive move. Do we have the political will required to undertake this critical task?

Discussion and conclusion:
Prime Minister Modi has made a lucid and compelling case for why the government should focus and invest in urbanization while launching flagship program Smart Cities Mission in 2015. While launching 14 smart city projects in Pune in 2017, he said: “People in the economic field consider cities as a growth centre.... If anything has the potential to mitigate poverty it is our cities”. His argument should now be taken to its logical conclusion with a strategic move to empower the urban centres, as noted in this paper. 

In their recent paper, Massimiliano Calì and Carlow Menon, examined the extent to which the growth in urban areas reduced poverty in surrounding rural areas in India. [5]  Using a large sample of Indian districts, they find that urbanization has a substantial and systematic poverty-reducing effect in the rural areas.

The focus on urbanization, therefore, is particularly relevant, as it is the country with the largest number of poor especially in rural areas. There is an urgent need to increase the pace of migration from rural areas, since over 58 per cent of the rural households or around 50 percent of total labour force in India depends on agriculture as their principal means of livelihood. However, as per estimates by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), GOI, the share of agriculture and allied sectors (agriculture, livestock, forestry and fishery) was 15.3 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during 2015–16 at 2011–12 prices. It means per capita GDP or productivity of labour force engaged in agriculture is very low. Since non-agricultural sectors will drive most of India’s future growth, three is an urgent need to shift access labour force from agriculture to non-agriculture activities. As such, India has to invest heavily in manufacturing and service sectors, which encouraged farmers/rural people to move to more productive jobs. So far, India has encouraged rural people to stay home by subsidizing rural incomes through programs like:  NAREGA (National Rural Employment Guarantee Act), Food Security Bill, etc.

India and China are both urbanizing rapidly, but China has embraced and shaped the process, while India is still waking up to its urban realities and opportunities, as per a study by the McKinsey Global Institute. [6]  According to the findings, in 1950, India was a more urban nation than China (17 percent of the population lived in cities, compared with China’s 13 percent). But from 1950 to 2015, China urbanized far more rapidly than India, to an urbanization rate of 55.6 percent, compared with 32.7 percent in India; and, this pattern to continue, with China forecast to add 400 million to its urban population, which will account for 64 percent of the total population by 2025, and India to add 215 million to its cities, whose populations will account for 38 percent of the total in 2025.

McKinsey’s Richard Dobbs and Shirish Sankhe noted  that “India has underinvested in its cities; China has invested ahead of demand and given its cities the freedom to raise substantial investment resources by monetizing land assets and retaining a 25 percent share of value-added taxes. While India spends $17 per capita on capital investments in urban infrastructure annually, China spends $116. India has devolved little real power and accountability to its cities, but China’s major cities enjoys the same status as provinces and has powerful political appointees as mayors. While India’s urban-planning system has failed to address competing demands for space, China has a mature urban-planning regime (emphasizing the systematic development of run-down areas) consistent with long-range plans for land use, housing, and transportation”.  [7]

We hope that this paper will help the government in informed decision making and help formulate a stratified urban policy. It is expected to help policy makers in taking forward the newly launched Missions, namely, Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana, Smart Cities Mission, Swatch Bharat Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation in a bid towards building a vibrant and inclusive urban India. We hope that this contributes to a better understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of medium and small sized towns in the national economy, and helps to increase their role in making relevant local contributions to the solution of shared developmental challenges.

In short, to mitigate the strains that will develop as cities expand, and to maximize the potential economic opportunity that well-managed cities can offer, India urgently needs a fresh, proactive approach to addressing the challenges of urbanization India. So India must develop policies to expedite the process of urbanization

[1] Mathew Idiculla. 2016. Should mayors be directly elected?  At¨

[2] Nandan Nilekani. 2008. It's Time To Think Local athttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/edit-page/TOP-ARTICLE-Its-Time-To-Think-Local/articleshow/3829429.cms?

[3] Refer TOI editorial: Cut cities free: India’s urban nightmare can be ended with legislative changes and capacity building at: http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/toi-editorials/cut-cities-free-indias-urban-nightmare-can-be-ended-with-legislative-changes-and-capacity-building/

[4] Refer article:  Rethinking Urban Governance by M. Ramachandran at: http://inclusion.skoch.in/story/67/rethinking-urban-governance-367.html

[5] Refer: Cali, Massimiliano; Menon, Carlo. 2013. Does Urbanization Affect Rural Poverty? Evidence from Indian Districts. Oxford University Press on behalf of the World Bank. © World Bank. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/21003 License: CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 IGO.

[6] For details, see: India's urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth, A Report - McKinsey Global Institute - 2010.

[7] Richard Dobbs and. Shirish Sankhe.  2010. Comparing urbanization in China and India, the McKinsey Global Institute. A version of this article appeared in the Financial Times on May 18, 2010. Also see at:

Monday, 21 August 2017

Managing Urban India (IV): Urban Challenges and Smart City Project

Dr. Devendra K. Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action

Although India is one of the less urbanized countries of the world with only 32 per cent of her population living in urban areas, this country is facing a serious crisis of urban growth can concentration at the present time. Whereas urbanization has been an instrument of economic, social and political progress, it has led to serious socio-economic problems in India.

The sheer magnitude of the urban population, haphazard and unplanned growth of urban areas, and a desperate lack of infrastructure are the main causes of such a situation. Almost all major cities in India are facing serious problems of slum clearance, housing, inadequate civic amenities for a fast growing population, absence of efficient public transport system, the growing insecurity in the cities and so on. Problems will become more acute and may go beyond repair if immediate steps are not taken to solve at least some of these problems. Some major challenges faced by emerging urbanization in India are:

Urban sprawl: In the past two decades, Indian cities have grown tremendously—not only in population, but in geographic size. For instance, Delhi’s urban area has almost doubled in the last 20 years. This has led to an increase in average trip length from 8.5 kms to 10.4 kms, and this commuting distance is projected to increase further in the coming years. Sprawling cities and reliance on automobiles have contributed to traffic congestion, air pollution, rising greenhouse gas emissions, and poor public health. Ensuring that India’s cities of the future are both livable and sustainable requires that decision-makers find ways to shorten commuting distances and decrease urbanites’ reliance on automobiles. Developing new urban planning is a need of hour.


Slums and squatter settlements: During 2001-11, around 20 million rural people migrated to cities/towns as compared to 14 million during the previous decade. The greatest pressure of the immigrating population has been felt in the slums of the city where the immigrants flock to their relatives and friends before they search for housing. The census defines a slum as "residential areas where dwellings are unfit for human habitation" because they are dilapidated, cramped, poorly ventilated, unclean, or "any combination of these factors which are detrimental to the safety and health".

Over 65 million or 17 per cent of urban population live in ‘identified’ slums in 2011, up from 52 million in 2001.  With over 11 million of its residents in slums, Maharashtra has the highest slum population. Andhra Pradesh follows with over 10 million in slums, and West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh have over 6 million slum residents each. Over 1 million of Delhi’s 16 million residents live in ‘identified’ slums.  The proportion of urban residents living in slums may be higher.  State governments are unwilling to admit to their being more slums in their cities because then they will have to provide these slums basic services like water and drainage.

Indian cities abound with slums which have been termed as ‘eyesores’, a ‘rash’ on city landscape, ‘a blot on civilization’ etc. They are much more health hazards for its unfortunate poverty stricken inhabitants and also for the city as a whole. The most shocking aspect is that slums are growing at an accelerated rate, especially in mega cities.

Mumbai with 48.9 per cent of its population consisting of slum dwellers is the worst suffer. Dharavi slum in Central Mumbai is the largest slum of Asia. Here some of the side allays and lanes are so narrow that not even a bicycle can pass. The whole neighborhood consists of tenement buildings, two or three storey high with rusty iron stairways to the upper part, where a single room is rented by a whole family, sometimes twelve or more people. In this place of shadow-less, treeless sunlight, uncontrolled garbage, stagnant pools of foul water, the only non-human creatures are the black crows and long gray rats.[1]

Waste disposal: As Indian cities grow in number and size the problem of waste disposal is assuming alarming proportions. Huge quantities of garbage produced by our cities pose a serious health problem. Most cites do not have proper arrangements for garbage disposal and the existing landfills are full to the brim. These landfills are hotbeds of disease and innumerable poisons leaking into their surroundings. In a city like Bengaluru the solid waste generated daily is estimated to be around 5000 tons. The collection, transportation and disposal of this huge quantity of solid waste are posing serious problems to the municipality. Finding dumping grounds for this waste has become difficult. Dumping this sort of waste has created serious problems of pollution, ill-health and stink to inhabitants even a kilometer away. Recycling the solid waste material and converting much of it into usable products seems to be the only solution.

Sewerage problems: Urban areas in India are almost invariably plagued with insufficient and inefficient sewage facilities. Not a single city in India is fully sewered. Resource crunch faced by the municipalities and unauthorized growth of the cities are two major causes of this pathetic state of affairs. According to latest estimates, only 35-40 per cent of the urban population has the privilege of sewage system. Most of the cities have old sewerage lines which are not looked after properly. Often sewerage lines break down or they are overflowing. 

Water: Sadly, majority of the cities and towns do not get the recommended quantity of water. Gap in demand and supply of water in four metro cities, viz., Mumbai, Kolkata, Delhi and Chennai varies from 10 to 20 per cent. The condition is still worse in small cities and towns.  Even some cities having population more than 100,000 are getting water supply two to three times in a weak. Many towns have no main water supply at all and depend on such sources as individual tube wells, open wells or even rivers. 

To meet the growing demand for water, many cities are trying to tap external sources of water supply. Mumbai draws water from neighboring areas and from sources located as far as 125 km in the Western Ghats. Chennai uses water express trains to meets its growing demand for water. Bangalore is located on the plateau and draws water from Cauvery river at a distance of 100 km. Water for Bangalore has to be lifted about 700 metres with help of lifting pumps.

Public Transport: After housing and waste disposal, another major problem faced by people in urban areas is the lack of adequate public transport. The traffic scenario in almost all the Indian cities presents a pathetic picture with Mumbai still having the best city transport system and Chennai, Ahmedabad and Pune being reasonably well served by local transport system. In all other cities, if one does not own a personal vehicle, great hardship is experienced in moving about in the city.

As the cities are growing, distances to be travelled for work and other reasons are increasing. With more than half the population being poor or belonging to low income groups, public transport is a very important facility to be provided in urban areas. Unfortunately, while the richer classes are buying more and more two wheeler and four wheeler automobiles, the average and below average citizen does not have access to adequate and affordable transport facility. As the number of motor vehicles increases, roads get cluttered, pollution increases and it takes longer to reach one’s destination. Pedestrians and slow moving vehicles do not get sympathetic treatment either by the authorities or the other road users.

Only recently local and state governments have woken up to this problem and metro rail systems are being set up at great cost for mass rapid transportation. Calcutta and more recently Delhi have very well managed metro rail systems but they are still not adequate. Mumbai and Chennai have had a long history of local train services but even they are proving inadequate with populations in these cities growing rapidly. Cities like Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jaipur, etc.  have just provided elevated metro rail on a limited scale.

Presently people rely mostly on bus transport but their number is not enough nor the roads able to accommodate all the vehicles now in use. There are frequent traffic jams further delaying people from reaching their destinations. The way forward is to restrict severely individual transport and increase manifold public transport both by road and rail. Public transport must be made much more efficient, regular, punctual, attractive and adequate. Then the need for individual transports will go down and the state would be able to put severe restrictions on use of individual transport as is being done in Singapore.

Moreover, mixture of vehicles causes uncontrollable chaos on the roads. Free movement of stray cattle and domestic animals on the roads adds to traffic problems and often cause accidents. Heavy traffic and congestion leads to slow movement of traffic, fuel wastage environmental pollution and loss of precious time.

In short, almost all major cities in India are facing serious problems of slum clearance, housing, inadequate civic amenities for a fast growing population, absence of efficient public transport system, the growing insecurity in the cities and so on. Problems will become more acute and may go beyond repair if immediate steps are not taken to solve at least some of these problems. Meanwhile the forecast is that half the country’s population will be living in urban areas in another two to three decades. So policy measures are needed to resolve the existing problems.

Policy actions initiated to mitigate urban challenges:
Making a strong pitch to consider urbanization as an opportunity and not as a problem, GOI launched two major schemes in 2015—Smart Cities mission, and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT).

The AMRUT, which replaces the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), focuses of the urban renewal projects to establish infrastructure that could ensure adequate robust sewage networks and water supply for urban transformation.

Another important scheme is the Smart Cities Mission (SCM). The first question is what is meant by a ‘smart city’. The answer is: there is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people. In the approach of SCM, the objective is 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. The focus is on sustainable and inclusive development and the idea is to look at compact areas, create a replicable model which will act like a light house to other aspiring cities.

The Smart Cities Mission is an urban renewal and retrofitting program by the Government of India with a mission to develop 100 cities by 2022 (the target has been revised to 109 cities) and these are being selected on the basis of a city challenge competition. Meant to change the way urban India lives, smart cities will enjoy uninterrupted power and water supplies, efficient public transport, internet connectivity, and e-governance along with quality infrastructure. Under the smart city programme, each city will be given Rs 500 crore by the Centre over five years. The states will have to make a matching contribution.

The Smart Cities Mission, a flagship programme for urban India, has been presented as a participatory and inclusive development programme aimed at enhancing the lives and livelihoods of citizens. This emphasis on participation and economic growth in the structure of the Mission has been extraordinary and could lead to fundamental changes in urban governance. In reality, however, participation has been uneven and the structures upholding the Mission, ambiguous. These issues have led to several kinds of resistance to the Mission — ranging from requests for amendments to the city proposals to a rejection of the Mission itself — from both citizens and the polity.

While the Smart Cities Mission has been functioning for over a year, it has been critiqued on numerous occasions, most recently by the Brookings India Institute and the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), with repeated assertions that the idea of smart cities has originated in countries whose socio-economic track records are significantly better than India’s. [2]  These reports have argued that the notion of urban regeneration through the creation of smart cities needs to be better theorized within the Indian context to allow for more appropriate forms of urban improvement with a higher potential of effective implementation.

One of the primary concerns has been the creation of a company, called a Special Planning Vehicle (SPV), in each selected city to operationalise the Mission at the local level. The constitution and powers of the SPV are fraught with ambiguity and several municipal bodies have been wary about engaging with an entity whose functions seem to overlap with their own.

One of the main reasons for the apathy of urban local bodies of some cities pertains to the Special Purpose Vehicle, which is to be mandatorily constituted for the implementation of their respective Smart City Plans. SPVs with private investments have been increasingly encouraged as an efficient mechanism for infrastructure projects. This would be ideally seen as an attractive option for urban local bodies struggling to meet investment requirement. Then why have these local bodies been so disapproving of the smart city SPVs?

According to media reports, the local bodies of Navi Mumbai, Pune, Kochi and Nashik have indicated that the essence of ‘local self-governance’ will be defeated with specific focus on private sector driven SPVs. Successful implementation of smart city solutions needs effective horizontal and vertical coordination between various institutions providing various municipal amenities as well as effective coordination between central government, state government and local government agencies on various issues related to financing and sharing of best practices and service delivery processes.

In Pune, for instance, the local municipal cooperators and politicians fear a loss of autonomy of the municipality and have demanded greater representation in the board of the SPV. While these discussions could slow the pace of the Mission, they may also lead to the construction of a more regulated and accountable body as an outcome of resistance from the local polity. The Brookings India report also flagged that clarity regarding the functions and role of the SPV in the long-term would be critical for the Mission.[3]

Second, the quality of citizen engagement in the Mission has also come under criticism. The cities relied heavily on social media and telecom to reach out to citizens, which was problematic because this strategy presupposed a certain level of literacy and access to technology. The citizen resentment to the Mission in Bhopal and Dehradun resulted in a rejection of the city proposals. Citizens in Bhopal stated that they had not been consulted regarding the changes in Shivaji Nagar and Tulsi Nagar and protested against the eviction notices sent to them.
Further, the much-touted project is courting fire from citizens for want of schemes that can actually make a difference to their lives.  For example, in recently held 

the meeting of Smart  Ajmer city Ltd  (ASCL) in April, 2017, citizens argued that while the project has no place for sewerage, drainage and traffic management  systems, highly 'impractical' schemes such as sharing cycles, building Anasagar pathway, a cultural park at Subhash Bagh and painting posh areas of the city figured prominently.[4]

One of the significant resistances to the mission has come from West Bengal, where the state government has decided to opt out of competition and not submit proposals for any other city. The state government, pending a formal communication to the central government has put forth serious disagreements over the financing pattern and the area-based focus of the Mission.

The implications of the resistance are varied and need to be viewed in a constructive manner. The absence of grievance architecture could result in further resistance or worse, the creation of spatially and economically polarized cities which conflict with the very ideology of the Mission.

Lastly, the selection of big cities   is not going to achieve the objectives of the Mission.  First 20 cities selected under SCM, 16 are having population one million or more in 2011.[5]  Some important selected million cities are: Chennai (8.6 million), Ahmadabad, (6.3 million), Pune (5.1 million), Surat, (4.6 million) Jaipur (3.1 million), Kochi (2.1 million), Indore (2.1million), and Bhopal (2.0 million). And in such large cities, already having wasted interests, it would be difficult to achieve the objectives of the Mission to make cities vibrant and livable.

Infrastructure investments in small-sized cities can be cost-effective. The concentration of population and enterprises in urban areas greatly reduces the unit cost of piped water, sewers, drains, roads, electricity, garbage collection, transport, healthcare and schools. However, the cost-effectiveness of such investments is reduced when they are made too late. For instance, when informal settlements or slums are allowed to proliferate, it becomes more difficult and more expensive to install infrastructure and services because no prior provision has been made for the settlement’s development. Moreover, population densities and the spatial configuration of slums often do not allow for the subsequent development of roads, sewerage systems and other facilities that are easy to install in less dense and better-planned localities. Moreover, due to relatively less political interferences, it will be easy to expand job opportunities and that will facilitate rural-urban migration. I, therefore, believe that concept of developing smart cities is good but the selected cities should not have population more than 200,000 each or even less.

The Mckinsey report on urbanization entitled “India’s urban awakening: Building inclusive cities, sustaining economic growth” predicts that 590 million people will live in cities of India by 2030. To accommodate this explosive growth, India would need at least 20-30 new smart cities.

The concluding post discusses: Need for rethinking about urban governance. 


[1] Refer article by Smriti Chand at: http://www.yourarticlelibrary.com/urbanisation/11-major-problems-of-urbanisation-in-india/19880/

[2] Refer article:To succeed, citizens must have more say in the Smart Cities Mission by Persis Taraporevala and Bhanu Joshi at: http://www.hindustantimes.com/analysis/to-succeed-citizens-must-have-more-say-in-the-smart-cities-mission/story-PgWgFXSbgaTcdQldOgRJpK.html. Also see article: The top 10 implementation challenges for smart cities in India by Pratap Padode at http://realty.economictimes.indiatimes.com/realty-check/author/319/pratap-padode



[4] Refer news item: Citizens train guns on smart city schemes, at: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ajmer/citizens-train-guns-on-smart-city-schemes/articleshow/58200588.cms?

[5] These cities are: 1 Bhubaneswar, 2 Pune, 3 Jaipur, 4 Surat, 5 Kochi, 6 Ahmadabad, 7 Jabalpur, 8 Visakhapatnam, 9 Solapur, 10 Davangere, 11 Indore, 12 New Delhi Municipal Corporation, 13 Coimbatore, 14 Kakinada, 15 Belagavi, 16 Udaipur,17 Guwahati, 18 Chennai, 19 Ludhiana, and 20 Bhopal.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Managing Urban India (III) (Why pace of urbanization is slow?)

Dr. Devendra K. Kothari
Population and Development Analyst
Forum for Population Action

No doubt, India is urbanizing, but very slowly. Some forty-year ago, I raised and analyzed this question in my doctoral dissertation – Patterns of Rural-Urban migration: A case study of Four Villages in Rajasthan, India. 1 Even today, it is a puzzling question. A recent paper, titled Urbanization, Demographic Transition and the Growth of cities in India, 1770-2020 by Chinmay Tumbe, gave some useful insights on this issue. 2

What explains the tepid growth in urbanization in India? It can be explained better by analyzing the four components of urban growth, namely (i) natural increase (births-deaths), (ii) net rural- urban migration, (iii) reclassification of rural settlements into urban, and (iv) expansion of boundaries of existing towns/cities. An assessment of their relative contributions is very important to understanding the dynamics of urban growth.

From Table 6, it is clear that natural increase has been the most prevalent source of urban population increase except in 2011 when inclusion of new towns and expansion of urban boundaries combined with net rural- urban migration have caused the maximum increase. There could be some role of international migration especially from Bangladesh in urban growth. The emergence of a large number of new towns in 2011 supports the emerging scenario. The number of towns at the national level increased from 5,161 to 7,935 – a net addition of 2,774 towns in 2011 compared to the 2001 Census.

Table 6: Disaggregation of total growth in urban population into components 1961-71, 1971-81 1981-91, 1991-01 and 2001-11
Total Increase (Million)
Share of components (in per cent)
Natural Increase on base year population and on intercensal migrants
Net rural- urban migration
Population of new towns less declassified towns
Increase due to expansion in urban areas and merging of towns
Sources: * Kundu, A. (2007): Migration and Urbanisation in India in the context of the Goal of poverty Alleviation, The International Conference on “Policy Perspectives on Growth, Economic Structures and Poverty Reduction”, 7-9th June, 2007, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. **. Computed by the author based on the data obtained from Census of India, 2011.

During doctoral research, I found that seasonal migration or semi-permanent nature of migration from rural areas is responsible for slow progression towards urbanization. Tumbe lists a similar reason “counter-intuitive”, which is responsible for holding back India’s urbanization speed. It is the freedom to keep on migrating from villages to cities and then back to villages which is acting as a fetter on speed of urbanization in India. He finds that migration from India’s rural areas has always had a gender bias and male workers leave their families in rural areas to look for employment opportunities in urban areas. As time passes, older cohorts go back to the villages to live with their families only to be replaced by younger ones. The process is facilitated by the important role of kinship ties in getting such jobs. Given the fact that there is neither any restriction on rural-urban movement of labour, nor is there adequate infrastructure for women migrant workers in cities, the net effect is a slowing down of India’s urbanization pace.

There has been a decline in the rate of migration to urban areas since 1981. Table 6 shows that the contribution of net rural-urban migration has gone down from 39 per cent in 1971-81 to 20 per cent in 200-11. This is really surprising in spite of rural poverty. Further, a majority of the population in the working age group of 15-59 years is residing in rural areas is alarming.

Lower increase in contribution of migration to rise in urban population suggests that there has not been enough additional space and opportunity in the cities to absorb or attract more rural population on a permanent basis.

Due to the increasing cost of living in large cities, the rural migrants have adopted a different strategy; in spite of migrating to the cities on the permanent basis, they have started commuting. A population is usually broken down into two categories—the residents, who permanently stay in an area for a considerable amount of time and are part of the official population count, and the floating types, who are in the area but do not live there permanently and are not considered part of the official census count. The incidence of floating population in form of commuting (daily and/or weekly) is very much in mega and million cities.

Half the people using public transport in Vasai Virar travel more than 20 km-one way. In Mumbai, around 31 per cent of commuters take train, while in all other cities bushes come next. Chennai and Bengaluru have a high proportion of two wheeler users. Such findings can be gleaned from a data set obtained from the Census 2011 on the mode of transport that “other workers”- those not engaged in household industry or agricultural occupations—use to commute daily to work and the distance they travel. 3

A survey conducted by the author in Jaipur in 2011 revealed that more than 125,000 people come to Jaipur in morning from nearby places for work and go back to their respective villages and/or towns in the evening. Among those 125,000 workers who do commute for work, the distances tend to be quite small. A half of commuters travel less than 10 kms on one way to work and another one forth travel between ten to twenty kms. And remaining of them has a commute over 20 kms. Over one-tenth of workers in Jaipur commute to work on foot, followed by cycle, moped or motorcycles and bus and train. Fewer than five per cent take cars or vans. 4

Planning in most cities does not take into account the realities of Indian commuting and that is one of main reasons, why our cities face transport, water and power and other problems.

It does not mean that role of permanent migration to urban areas is going to decrease further. Migration and in particular, net rural-urban migration, is expected to pick up speed in coming years with the onset of economic reforms and acceleration in economic growth as well as urban reforms.

People move into cities to seek economic opportunities. A major contributing factor is known as "rural flight". In rural areas, often on small family farms, it is difficult to improve one's standard of living beyond basic sustenance. Cities, in contrast, have strongly emerged as the prime engines of the Indian economy and generators of national wealth, the future is inescapably urban. In addition, an increase in agricultural productivity will push rural people to urban areas with better qualification.

A similar phenomenon was noted during my doctoral research. It was observed that there is a positive relationship between level of rural development and amount of rural-urban migration. In other words, rural development pushes people from rural areas to urban centres.5

With declining urban fertility (Table 7), and simultaneously increase in number of urban centres, it is predictable that the contribution of migration will increase in coming decades, especially when 70 per cent of working population age group in rural locations are looking out for opportunities.

Latest data suggests that urban fertility has fallen sharply in recent years and is already at the ‘replacement level’ needed to keep the population stable. Urban fertility is now at levels seen in developed countries and in some places among the lowest in the world.

In the 1970s, natural growth rates in urban and rural India were identical. Since then, they have dramatically diverged with rural natural growth rates currently standing substantially higher than urban natural growth rates. This is mainly due to higher birth rates in rural areas as death rates have converged between rural and urban settings.

Table 7: Trends in fertility 1971-2013
Total Fertility Rate (number of children per woman)
Source: Registrar General of India

As a result, the rural-urban migration is expected to pick up speed in coming years with the onset of economic reforms and acceleration in economic growth. In some countries, notably China and Indonesia, migration and reclassification has accounted for 70 to 80 percent of urban growth in the recent decades. The same could be seen in India in coming years.

The next post discusses: Urban problems and smart city concept.

1 Kothari, Devendra K. 1980. Patterns of Rural-Urban Migration: A case study of Four Villages in Rajasthan, India, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis in Demography, The Australian National University Canberra, Australia. In this field-based study, rural-urban migrants were traced from the four villages to selected destinations like Mumbai, Ahmadabad, and Udaipur among others.
2 Tumbe, Chinmay. 2016. Urbanization, Demographic Transition and the Growth of Cities in India, 1870-2020, working paper, C35205-INC-1, International Growth Centre.
3 Refer at: http://www.thehindu.com/data/india-walks-to-work-census/article7874521.ece
4 Kothari Devendra. 2011. Increasing level of commuting in Jaipur city and its consequences, FPA Working Paper no. 13, Forum for Population Action, Jaipur.

5 Kothari, Devendra K. 1980. Patterns of Rural-Urban Migration: A case study of Four Villages in Rajasthan, India, Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis in Demography, The Australian National University Canberra, Australia