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Govt desperation to showcase "feel good" factor behind estimate of 63% India as urban, suggests Prof Kundu


Calculating urbanization? Annual
passenger flow since 2011-12
By Rajiv Shah
One of India’s topmost urban experts, Prof Amitabh Kundu, has taken strong exception to the Government of India’s mid-term Economic Survey, released in early August, especially its suggestion that 63% of India could be urban. Prof Kundu believes, this kind of statement would “add confusion” among policy makers and researchers of urbanization.
Prepared under chief economic adviser (CEA) Arvind Subramanian, the mid-term Economic Survey says that "India was 63% ‘urban’ in 2015 -- more than double the urbanization rate estimated by the 2011 Census", adding, 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."
Asked why the CEA appears desperatein calling India 63% urban, Prof Kundu told Counterview, “A major reason could be to suggest that there is feel good factor following the economy’s seven plus percent growth rate. If the growth rate is so high, highest in the world, then it should impact urbanization, too, that seems to be logic.”
Chairperson of an advisory committee on housing at Reserve Bank of India, Prof Kundu said, the first part of the Economic Survey, released in February, had sought to identify the quicker pace of India’s urbanization on the basis of movement of migrants in Indian railways.
The Economic Survey said, the Census data yielded an annual inter-state migration of about 5-6.5 million between 2001 and 2011, but “railway passenger data analysis suggests an annual inter-state migration flow of close to 9 million since 2011”, suggesting a clear discrepancy.
Prof Kundu
“Clearly, rising growth after the 1980s has led to an acceleration of labour migration flows as the rewards of better economic opportunities have overcome the costs of moving”, the February Economic Survey had said in the chapter titled "India on the Move and Churning: New Evidence", adding, the data are based on the Ministry of Railways’ “unreserved passenger traffic between every pair of stations in India for the years 2011-2016.”
Pointing out that this kind of analysis is good for research or PhD thesis, Prof Kundu said, “But for the Economic Survey to suggest this only creates confusion”, adding, the Census of India’s definition of urbanization, based on the labour force involved in the non-agricultural sector and basic urban infrastructural facilities is quite robust and closer to reality.
Pointing out that railway movement cannot be identified as migration to urban areas, Prof Kundu said, this is a complete departure from the Census of India view, adding, “It is quite unwarranted to use it in Economic Survey.”
Noting that the World Bank in its World Development Report 2009 first came up with the “drastic figure” of 50% India being urban, Prof Kundu said, this was based on an analysis of the clusters developed next to India’s urban centres having a communication distance taking maximum one hour time.
Insisting that there is “nothing new” in what Subramanian was doing, as former Planning Commission vice-chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia would also say that the Census of India was “not capturing” the actual urbanization in India, Prof Kundu said, “This became a reason for the Census of India in 2011 to identify 2,700 new urban centres as against just 500 identified during previous censuses.”
Also taking exception to the mid-term Economic Survey suggesting that population could be one of the criteria for identifying urbanization, Prof Kundu said, “It would be quite admirable if the Government of India seeks to provide urban facilities to conglomerates of more than 2,500 or 5,000 population, but one cannot call such areas as urban only because they have higher population density. Facilities such as healthcare and saniation could be provided even otherwise.”

Comments

INJA said…
Amazing how any kind of data is being used to prove that rural India doesn't need investment

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