-Dr. Keya Chakraborty, Programme Officer
Urbanization is the process of a society’s transformation from a predominantly rural society to a predominantly urban one. Primarily, industrial growth contributes to urban expansion. Industrialization leads people to migrate towards industrial areas in search of employment and, consequently, helps towns and cities grow. Populations migrate, and cause urbanization, also for better standard of living, educational and health facilities, infrastructure, and communication.
The book The Paradox of India’s North-South Divide: Lessons from the States and Regions explores the two-way relationship between urbanization and economic growth. It is assumed that urbanization positively affects per capita income as it embraces agglomeration of economies, scale economies, access to knowledge, and increased productivity of firms. On the other hand, increased per capita income also leads to a higher rate of urbanization as it increases urban peoples’ aspirations for a better standard of life.
In this regard, Tamil Nadu (TN) has always remained ahead of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Even as per Census 2011, TN is one of the most urbanized states in the country with 48% of urbanized area, while UP’s rate of urbanization is only 22%. There are several reasons, related predominantly to climate, natural phenomena, and historical phenomena and events. During the colonial era, the establishment of a railway line in TN certainly stimulated the rate of per capita income and, hence, urbanization. In addition, as it rains little in TN, the scope for irrigation is limited. As a result, the state’s economy became non-agrarian and trade- dependent. This led to the emergence of several trade centres that became cities in due course. In contrast, the land in UP is fertile and it has water aplenty; so, most towns are primarily agrarian. Hence, a large number of people in UP are engaged in agricultural work whereas most of the population in TN are engaged mostly in non-agricultural work. The Census defines urbanization on the basis of the number of non-agrarian population; by this definition, urbanization is much higher in TN than in UP.
In ending, a caveat: it is important to remember that India is primarily an agrarian country; only 32% of its area is urbanized. So, urbanization is only one of several development indicators. Agricultural and rural development over time will portray another aspect of development. Hence, well-integrated holistic development of a country like India means development in both agrarian and urban sectors.
All views expressed here are of the author and not necessarily of the Public Affairs Centre