Toward a better appraisal of urbanization in India, a fresh look at the landscape of morphological agglomerates

Abstract : Until now, studies of urbanization in India have been based only on official urban figures as provided by Census surveys. This approach has inevitably introduced several avoidable biases into the picture, distortions which are further compounded by numerous regional inter-Census adjustments. A much sounder option is now available in the Geopolis approach [www.e-geopolis.eu], which follows the United Nations system of classifying as urban all physical agglomerates with at least 10,000 inhabitants. From this standpoint, the Indian scenario exhibits all signs of a much-diffused process of urbanization rather than a major demographic polarization led by mega-cities. While 3,279 units were officially categorized as urban, the Geopolis criterion has identified 6,467 units with at least 10,000 inhabitants. Moreover, Geopolis estimates the urban population at 37% for 2001, which is 10% more than the official Census estimate. In absolute terms, this difference accounts for 100 million inhabitants. Brought to light by both physical identification and gradation of the census units of all localities as well as a study of the morphological profiles of individual agglomerates, a major finding reveals a greater spread of the country's metro and secondary cities than previously believed. Statistical and political considerations have obscured the emergence of small agglomerations of between 10,000 and 20,000 inhabitants. This omission can only be seen as a gap in the national policy on planning and urban development. In other words, the country seems to be firmly headed toward an extended process of metropolitanization alongside diffused combinations of localized socio-economic opportunities, clusters, cottage industries, and market towns partially interlinked by developmental corridors. Far from a dual model of modern versus traditional, urban versus rural, metro city versus small town, the Indian subcontinent features many sub-regional settings which converge, overlap, and diverge. This study of the distribution of current and emerging agglomerations challenges the pertinence of the urban/rural divide
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Eric Denis, Kamala Marius. Toward a better appraisal of urbanization in India, a fresh look at the landscape of morphological agglomerates. Cybergeo : Revue européenne de géographie / European journal of geography, UMR 8504 Géographie-cités, 2011, pp.1-32. ⟨10.4000/cybergeo.24798⟩. ⟨halshs-00771514⟩

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