Karela Fry

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India is becoming urban

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The Census of India 2011 has published data on urbanization. Much hinges on the definition of what is a city. TOI carries the definition of what the census calls an urban area:

The 2011 Census directorate classifies an area as urban if it fulfills one of two conditions. Any area that comes under a corporation, municipality or town panchayat is automatically classified as urban.

“We also have ‘census towns’ that are considered urban. These are places that have a population of 5,000 and above, have a density of 400 persons per sq km and 75% of the male population employed in non-agricultural occupations,” said S Gopalakrishnan, director of census operations in Tamil Nadu.

“Many areas earlier classified as rural have got better facilities and have been merged with a municipality or corporation,” said Dr N Audinarayana , professor and head, population studies department, Bharathiar University, citing the examples of Chennai and Coimbatore.

“In many districts, people have taken up a non-agricultural occupation even if they have only studied up to class eight. So the area is classified as urban even though it is surrounded by fields,” he said.

Here are some salient figures:

  • 31.2% of the Indian population is urbanized, ie, 68.8% of the population is rural. Punjab, Mizoram, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu all have more than 35% of the population living in towns. Bihar, Orissa and Assam have at least 90% of the population in villages. Maharashtra has the largest urban population: 26.77 million.
  • Urban areas have grown at the decadal rate of 31.9%, and the rural population by only 12.2%. This, in spite of the fact that the birth rate in rural areas is larger: 14.11% of the rural population is younger than 7 years, but only 10.93% of the urban population is so young. Does this imply large adult migrations out of villages, or a genuine fall in fecundity in urban areas?
  • The rural sex ratio is 947 females per 1000 males. The urban sex ratio is 926 females per 1000 males. In the age group below 7 years the sex ratio is worse: 919 for rural areas and only 902 for urban!
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