Skip to main content

63% India urban?: Govt's midterm Economic Survey seeks to "redefine" criterion citing European satellite methodology

By Rajiv Shah
Seeking to give a controversial answer to the tangled question being debated especially by India's urban development experts as to how urbanized India is, the Government of India's midterm Economic Survey, released last week, has questioned the Census of India data that just 31.2% of the country is urbanized.
Even as providing several urbanization criteria existing across the world, the top report, which has been prepared under the guidance of chief economic adviser Arvind Subramanian, appears to favour the urbanization definition based on the use of satellite data based of the Global Human Settlements Layer (GHSL) of the Group on Earth Observations at the European Commission.
Using this data, the report says, "India was 63% ‘urban’ in 2015 -- more than double the urbanization rate estimated by the 2011 Census", adding, based on this, there is a need to "go into a much greater level of spatial detail... to uncover important insights for promulgating expeditious public policy at centre, state and urban local body level."
Urbanization is States under different criteria
The GHSL data looks at “high density clusters” for analyzing urbanization, supported by three important criteria: (a) 4 contiguous cells with at least 1,500 persons per square kilometer, (b) minimum of 50,000 persons per cluster, and (c) density of built-up area greater than 50%.
"The GHSL data is processed fully automatically and generates analytics and knowledge reporting objectively and systematically about the presence of population and built-up infrastructures", the report states, adding, "The approach is still experimental and we hope to refine it and apply it in many new fields and geographies."
Pointing out that "India is rapidly urbanizing", the report asks, "But does the 2011 census based urbanisation rate of 31.2% fairly capture it?"
It says, urbanisation in India is officially defined by two metrics, administrative and census. Under administrative only the population living in areas governed by urban local bodies are covered. Under census, the criteria include population of at least 5,000, density of at least 400 persons per square kilometre, and at least 75% of the male main working population engaged in non-agricultural activities.
Using the administrative definition, India was approximately 26% urban in 2011, while under the census definition, it was 31.2%. Pointing towards the discrepancy, the report says, "Kerala is 15% urban by the administrative definition, but 47.7% by the census definition."
Noting different definitions adopted across the world to identify urban population, the report says, "In countries like Ghana and Qatar, all settlements with 5000+ population are deemed urban. India would be 47% urban in 2011 by this definition. In Mexico and Venezuela, a 2500+ threshold is employed. India would be 65% urban in 2011 by this definition. Kerala is 99% urban both by the 5000+ and 2500+ population definitions."
It further notes, "A 2016 World Bank report (click HERE) uses an agglomeration index to measure urbanisation and finds that more than half the population in India is urban. Research by Jana, Sami, and Seddon finds that if we relax the population size and occupation categories and only use the density criteria of 400 persons per square kilometer, India is around 78% urban."
"It finds that even if we use density criteria of 800 persons per square kilometre, India will still be more urban (55%); far more than the current official numbers suggest. The point is that different definitions give very different answers and the appropriateness of a particular framework really depends on the application", the report says.
Urbanization in Kozhikode, Kerala
Insisting that "urbanization is not black-and-white as there are many shades of semi-urban settlements", the report underlines the need for recognizing that "cities are regarded as 'engines of growth' for economies", and it is the confluence of capital, people and space in cities which "unleashes the benefits of agglomeration, creating a fertile environment for innovation of ideas, technologies and processes which produce huge economic returns."
Additionally, the report says, "Cities in India generate two-thirds of national GDP, 90 per cent of tax revenues and the majority of formal sector jobs, with just a third of the country’s population", one reason why the Government of India has sought "a major policy response" through the Smart City Mission.

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

"Misleading" satellite images being shared on Balakot surgical strike on Jaish camp

By Dr Vinay Kate*
With every passing day more questions are being raised about the surgical strike India did in Balakot as a response to Pulwama attacks. So far the Indian media has claimed mass casulaty of 300+ terrorists of Jaish-e-Mohammad in this surgical strike, but there is hardly any report from foreign media about the same.

Extreme repression, corporate loot, cultural genocide "characterise" India's tribal belt

Counterview Desk
As Lok Sabha polls approach, there is considerable ferment in one section of the population -- India's Adivasis, forming about 8.6 per cent of India's population. Things became particularly critical following the February 14, 2019 Supreme Court order, allegedly seeking to evict lakhs of tribals from their forest lands.

Industry in India "barely growing", export growth 0%, whither moral anchors?

Counterview Desk
In a sharp critique of the Modi government, the Indian Institute of Management-Ahmedabad (IIM-A), one of world renowned economist Prof Kaushik Basu, who is Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has told students at the IIM-A’s 54th Annual Convocation on March 16, 2019 that they have a “special responsibility” on their shoulders, “the responsibility to reject narrow sectarianism, uphold scientific thinking, openness to new ideas, and freedom of speech.”

Gujarat model? Industrial effluents "invade" borewells, discharge coloured water in farms

By Rajiv Shah
In a major embarrassment for Gujarat model, of the 21 samples taken by officials of the state government's environmental watchdog Gujarat Pollution Control Board (GPCB) in two villages of Vadodara district and analyzed by its laboratory in Gandhinagar, the state capital, to find out pollution level in groundwater, 16 were assessed as highly contaminated – these were, in fact, found to be discharging reddish, brownish, reddish, or yellowish water.

Refugees as criminals? US govt report blames Amit Shah for calling Bangladeshis termites

Counterview Desk
The chapter “Freedom of Movement” of the US State Department’s “India 2018 Human Rights Report”, released recently, has criticized BJP chief Amit Shah for terming alleged Bangladeshis who may be in Assam as “termites”, because their names were struck down from the list of National Register of Citizens, under preparation in the state.
Pointing out that four million residents were excluded from Assam’s final draft list, leading to “uncertainty over the status of these individuals, many of whose families had lived in the state for several generations”, the report regrets, the Indian law does not even contain the term “refugee,” treating refugees like Rohingiyas as “any other foreigners.”
“Undocumented physical presence in the country is a criminal offense. Persons without documentation were vulnerable to forced returns and abuse”, the report says.
Text of the Freedom of Movement chapter: The law provides for freedom of internal movement, foreign travel, emigration, a…

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

Congress would win just 9 of 26 Lok Sabha seats: Gujarat Assembly segment-wise analysis

By Rajiv Shah
Even as the Congress plans its first working committee meet in Gujarat on February 28 after an almost 58 year gap, there is reason to wonder what is in store for India’s grand old party in a state which has been long been a BJP bastion – in fact ever since mid-1990s. Ahead of the then assembly polls in late 2012, talking with me, a senior Gujarat Congress leader, currently Rajya Sabha MP, frankly said he saw no reason why Congress would win.

"Pro-corporate" Supreme Court order on FRA would further marginalize Adivasis

By VS Roy David, JP Raju*
For millions of Adivasis and other traditional forest dwellers February 13, 2019 will go down in history as the day of apocalypse. This is like the proverbial Black Friday where millions of most marginalized people of India were ordered by malicious anti-people draconian Supreme Court order depriving them the life and livelihood by evicting them from their habitats.

Financial inclusion? Not micro-loans; India's poor "need" investment in health, education

By Moin Qazi*
India has grown into a global powerhouse. Its economy is soaring but the picture on the ground is still quite arid. The green shoots that you see are only a patch of its landscape. Most Indians are hapless victims of inequity. India is one country where intense poverty abounds in the shadow of immense wealth.