From Social Change
For too long, Indian policy makers have argued that India lives in its 600,000 villages and hamlets and development policies were and are, to a substantial extent, geared to discourage rural–urban migration by (a) providing in-situ employment and (b) large public expenditure on often populist rural development programmes. For several decades, urban problems tended to be ignored by both policy makers and academic researchers. It is now clear that both in terms of proportional contribution to and proportion of labour employed in urban sector would grow and anchor the development policies. This article recognizes that there is a need to shift the policy focus to promoting urban growth, albeit the segment of the academia that discourses on over-urbanization in India.
Noted scholars have argued that urbanization in India is dysfunctional, sans industrialization, dependent on a largely informal tertiary sector and totally unsustainable (Bhalla, 2004). I posit in this article that whatever the nature of urbanization—’top heavy’, tertiarised and sans industrialization—India needs to promote urbanization since we can demonstrate that poverty is better fought through urbanization than by only focusing on rural development programmes and the population living in 600,000 small and scattered villages and hamlets which are unlikely to attract substantial private investment in public infrastructure. I argue in this article that there is a need to shift the policy focus to promoting urban growth, albeit the segment of the academia that discourses on over-urbanization in India. The situation wherein the agricultural sector which has a share of 60 per cent employment and 25 per cent share in GDP (1999–2000) is not sustainable. However, the current approach to urban residential planning that merely carves out areas required for high, middle and low income as well as economically weaker sections that leaves out perhaps more than 50 per cent of people living in urban areas must drastically change. At present, this segment of the city population occupies areas with very poor basic services.
Urbanisation: A Solution to Poverty?
Social Change December 2014 44: 593-603, doi:10.1177/0049085714548544