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Making local sense of food, urban growth, population and energy

A quickening count, the movement from rural Bharat to urban India

with 4 comments

The urban advance, the dwindling of rural Bharat. In this aerial photograph over north India, fields are being annexed by a suburb.

The urban advance, the dwindling of rural Bharat. In this aerial photograph over north India, fields are being annexed by a suburb.

How much have urban populations in the districts changed by? If we consider the additions to the urban populations of individual districts, then between the 2001 and 2011 censuses, there were 204 districts whose urban populations rose by at least 100,000 persons. This is the equivalent of the addition of 204 Class I towns to the country’s urban population, 109 of these have added more than 200,000 persons, 37 of these have added more than half a million persons to their urban populations.

Census 2011, still with provisional data, illuminates the rural to urban transition

Census 2011, still with provisional data, illuminates the rural to urban transition

Eleven districts have added more than a million persons to their urban populations – South 24 Parganas (West Bengal), Kancheepuram (Tamil Nadu), Thrissur (Kerala), Ahmedabad (Gujarat), Ghaziabad (Uttar Pradesh), Malappuram (Kerala), Pune (Maharashtra), Rangareddy (Andhra Pradesh), Surat (Gujarat), Thane (Maharashtra) and Bengaluru (Karnataka). The decadal urban population growth rate for these top eleven is 100%, whereas it is 71% for the top 37 districts (with over 500,000 persons added to their urban populations). [See Macroscan for the full article.]

What of those districts with traditionally large rural populations? When considered with their cultivation patterns and their importance to the provision of cereals, coarse cereals, pulses, vegetables and horticulture, here are the districts that ought to serve as examples to counter the galloping urbanisation. The districts with the largest rural populations are to be found in eastern India (a trend that has remained for the most part unchanged since the 1901 and the 1911 censuses) – 17 of the top 20 districts with the most rural residents are in West Bengal, Bihar or Uttar Pradesh. [See this spreadsheet (xlsx) for the list of 30 districts with the largest rural populations.]

Six of the top ten are in West Bengal with the top three all in that state – South 24 Parganas (6.06 million), Murshidabad (5.69 million) and Paschim Medinipur (5.22 million). These are followed in the top 20 by Bardhaman, Purba Medinipur, North 24 Parganas and Nadia (all West Bengal), Purba Champaran, Madhubani, Muzzafarpur, Samastipur and Gaya (all Bihar), Allahabad, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Sitapur and Gorakhpur (all Uttar Pradesh), East Godavari in Andhra Pradesh, and by Pune and Ahmadnagar in Maharashtra. The rural populations of these districts, in the fourth to twentieth positions are between 4.68 million and 3.6 million.

Written by makanaka

January 7, 2013 at 23:42

4 Responses

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  1. This is dramatic and unprecedented, Rahul- so well captured and presented. There is no doubt historical data will tell us that movement to Urban from rural is a growing phenomenon.What is happening in India in this short time is exceptional and stunning..What are the factors?I have no doubt that the Urban attraction(Pull) has been a strong and compelling one.Add to the increasing level of access to visual and electronic communication aided by demographic changes.have made a very young population in the rural to look city as the way forward.What is tragic is that the change is also driven by a policy that is fully and explicitly biased to the Urban development with equally explicit decline and contraction in rural and agricultural investment.The agrarian economy is in a crisis because of the official withdraw and that is driving the Push factor to the towns and cities.

    Can this flow be reversed/? can it be slowed down? Not without State repositioning its policy and investment . realignment. Even in a short time if this trend is not managed -there is a clear danger that a more aware,,aspirational and ambitious young population that will get disenchanted and disillusioned very rapidly can become a potential time bomb..
    This is an exceptional situation needed exceptional vision and action. We can have a constructive Urban development without emasculating the rural and agricultural economy.There are striking examples within the country where, attempts in thinking,, practice and application is already taking place and can become more than a great starting points.
    Time for real action is Now.

    Pushpanath Krishnamurthy

    January 18, 2013 at 17:23

  2. […] will find recently different explorations of this theme in ‘A quickening count, the movement from rural Bharat to urban India’, ‘The 0.05 kilowatt farming human and other strange equations from India’, ‘India […]

  3. […] Foto: Makanaka.wordpress.com […]


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