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

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Tata Mundra's possible closure? Power ministry's 'pressure tactic' on consumer states

By Bharat Patel*
Tata power has announced to the Union Ministry of Power that Tata Power may be forced to stop operating  its imported coal-based Mundra Ultra-Mega Power Project (UMPP) after February, 2020. It is not only unfortunate but also criminal that irreversible damage has been caused to the fragile ecosystem of Mundra coast for a project that will have a running life of only seven years.

Population control? 10% Indian couples want to delay next pregnancy, but fail

Counterview Desk
Shireen Jejeebhoy, director at Aksha Centre for Equity and Wellbeing, previously senior associate at the Population Council, India, argues that the debate on the country's population was fuelled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Independence Day address to the nation, where he drew attention to “concern” about the challenges posed by this ‘exploding’ population growth, needs to centre around the promotion of rights and education, instead of the language of explosion and the threat of coercion that this term implies.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam*
RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Savarkar 'opposed' Bhagat Singh's, Netaji's dream of India, supported British war efforts

By Shamsul Islam*
In a shocking development, the student wing of the RSS put the busts of martyrs Bhagat Singh and Subhash Chandra Bose with Savarkar's on one pedestal at the University of Delhi late in the night on August 20, 2019. Bhagat Singh sacrificed his life for a socialist-democratic-secular republic and Netaji raised Azad Hind Fauj (INA) consisting of people of all religions and regions for armed liberation of India.