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