Urbanisation | Issues & Themes on Bombay

Basic concepts [L.J20_.urban1.htm]


By the year 2010, over 50 per cent of the world's population will inhabit urban areas and the majority of this growth is concentrated in developing countries.

Third World urbanization continued its breakneck pace through the locust years of the 1980s and early 1990s in spite of falling real wages, soaring prices and skyrocketing urban unemployment. -

This ‘perverse’ urban boom contradicted orthodox economic models which predicted that the negative feedback of urban recession should slow or even reverse migration from the countryside. IMF- (and now wto-) enforced policies of agricultural deregulation and ‘de-peasantization’ were accelerating the exodus of surplus rural labour to urban slums even as cities ceased to be job machines.

Slum remains as a fully franchised solution to the problem of warehousing the twenty-first century’s surplus humanity. But aren’t the great slums, volcanoes waiting to erupt? Or does ruthless Darwinian competition, as increasing numbers of poor people compete for the same informal scraps, ensure self-consuming communal violence as yet the highest form of urban involution? --Urban clientelism too often equates with the dominance of ethno-religious bigots and their nightmare ambitions of ethnic cleansing. Notorious examples include the semi-fascist Shiv Sena movement in Bombay. - Mike Davis, Planet Of Slums, New Left Review 26, March-April 2004


Urbanisation Policy

A growing bias towards urban settlements is "inevitable". The needs to market village surpluses has given rise to small towns peforming mandi functions.

There has been cynical mis-use of policy relating to backward areas, where backward areas concessions have been extended to the periphery of large cities resulting in spatial extension of the main city while denying the local body of revenues which would have accrued to the main city.

Unless urban poverty is tackled, the energies of the poor utilised for productive activity, and an environment created in which the informal sector becomes profitable, we cannot save our cities. Govt. of India, "National Commission on Urbanisation - Interim Report", Ministry of Urban Development, New Delhi, January 1987. p. 5-20. [R.J20.6].

The development of towns in agriculturally rich areas, investment in improving rural linkages of resource-specific towns ad broadening of develo-ment base of existing industrial towns in backward areas, should strengthen the rural-urban continuum.. The Commission unequivocally recommends against locating new industries in newer backward areas.- Although metros allow for economies of scale in terms of job creation, beyond a certain size, the social costs of large city concentrations far outweigh the economic advantages.. An Urban spacial structure characterised by primarily low-rise, high-density, compact built form with prospects of multiple land use for home based or small scale enterprise and catered for by efficient public transport, would appear the most appropriate and should form the basis of city development plans... Govt. of India, "Report of the National Commission on Urbanisation - Summary of Recommendations of Volume II", New Delhi, August 1988. p.1-50.[R.J20.]

New "growth centres" like Bhilai and Rurkela in India have also failed to make a major dent in the problem of unemployment and poverty. Moreover, they are too costly to create except as pilot or experimental cases.

It is important that industrialization and urbanization are delinked from each other to the extent appropriate modern technology permits. As stated elsewhere, manufacturing became the function of cities only after Industrial Revolution. Prior to that it was the function of Villages. Unless, this very old rural function is restored to our villages, urban areas will continue to dominate.

A national urbanization policy in India must evolve a spatial structure of human settlements which can integrate the urban and rural settlements on the one hand and is conducive to the development of local, regional and national economy and polity on the other; -.Misra R. P. (Ed), "Towards A Perspective Urbanization Policy"  in 'Million Cities of India' , 12 Dec 2003, (C.J20), /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M005.html

The metropolitan thought that it is perhaps cheaper to add to existing infrastructure on large cities rather than spend money on creating totally new systems in new towns, suffers from the infirmity that large cities carry heavy subsidies on the services provided. IN all our major cities the civic services are subsidised whether these be transportation, water supply, and sewage, milk supply, road maintenance or whatever. Planning strategy must recognize the desirability of urbanisation as an instrument of economic growth and social change, and the need to channelise urban growth into a hierarchical settlement pattern. Buch, M. N, "Groping for a National Policy of Urbanization", in ' Of Man & His Settlements, Sanchar Publishing House, New Delhi, 1991. p. 27-33. [C.J20.010191].

The Central government scheme for Integrated Development of Small and Medium Towns (IDSMT) is in line with the matching grant contribution of states. The IDSMT progress has not been successful for absorbing excessive rural migrants or providing adequate employment opportunities. However, there is also no sufficiently developed socio economic, power and infrastructure facilities in small and medium town settlements. Bhargava, Gopal , "Making The City Slicker - on the national Urbanisation Policy's Priorities", The Economic Times, Mumbai, 20 August 2000, [C.J20],  /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M011.html


The desire to avoid taxation has also been an important motive in resisting municipalities. Different charges for services and subsidies are also a problem. For instance, electricity charges, assuming they are indeed levied and collected, and telephone tariffs are significantly lower for rural areas. Water supply, primary education and healthcare are invariably free. This is not to grudge such concessions but the disparity between rural and urban consumers should not escape notice. Another factor is the ubiquitous builder's lobby in Indian cities. The creation of a municipality is invariably followed by some measure of planning and building regulations. If it is possible to live in proximity to a city and access its economy, but at the same time escape its planning and building rules. Sivaramakrishnan, K.C. ," Turning Urban, Staying Rural", The Hindu, Chennai, 27 February 2002.[C.J20.270202H].

Bhargava, Gopal, " MERGING WITH THE BOUNDARIES OF THE CITY", The Telegraph, Kolkatta, 01 February 2001. [C.J20.010201TEL]. /eldoc/j20_/01feb01tel1.html

Rolf 't Hart, and others, "The Issue of Displacement in Sites and Services Projects", University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam. Pg. 3-4, August 1988. [R.J06.4]
 Bettering the city

Sectors like Dharavi, indeed the thriving informal 'bazaar' sectors that snake through the city, must be included in the urban planning process. Conceding that the issue of 'secure tenure' in slums and the informal sector was just as "violently controversial" in many other Asian cities as in Mumbai, William Lim) the architect who gave Singapore and the world the shopping mall as we know it today - a high-rise swirl of shops set around a central atrium), says that security of tenure is vital for the economic and emotional well being of any metropolis. China's financial capital is not as chaotic as India's "because the Chinese government has devised some clever development policies. Any industry wishing to set up shop in the city must compulsorily provide housing to its employees. What's more, it sees to it that rule is not broken.. Times News Network, "Mumbai's re-invention could be a messy, long-drawn affair", The Times of India, Mumbai, 24 February 2002. [C.J06.240202TOI] j06_/24feb02toi1.htm

 Attitudes need to change about the informal sector. The informal sector produces many goods and services efficiently and provides employment to a large number of people. Studies show that the share of the urban labour forces engaged in informal sector activities is growing and now ranges from 30 per cent to 70 per cent, the average being around 50 per cent. It also needs to be borne in mind that while in visualising the urban informal sector. Bhattacharya, Prabir C. , "Urbanisation in Developing Countries", Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai, 12 October 2002. p. 4219-4228 [J.J20.12OCT02EPW].


Alternatives/New Approaches

Jhunjhunwala, Bharat, "Celebrate The City - Instead of trying to revive our villages, we should try humanising our cities", The Pioneer, Delhi, 26 July 2000, [C.J20],  /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M009.html
Abs: We either have to 'exploit' villages and even disempower them and invest our surplus in industry so that we break free of the dependence on global political machination; or we can pursue rural production and surrender our sovereignty


The New Town, Kolkata has been notable for its strongly pro-poor approach, recognition of these state as an enabler and facilitator rather than a doer, intensive involvement of the local land-losers, considered anti - speculative measures, low budgetary impact and specific, targeted subsidies. . The existing corpus of wisdom that calls for an abdication of the state's development role, emphasises an unfettered operation of the market irrespective of the imperfections therein, negates equity considerations and tries to ignore political economy issues, requires a careful reexamination. New Town shows that it is possible to bring together an 'activist' state market-oriented efficiency, keeping intact the concerns for the poor. Mitra, Sanjay , " Planned Urbanisation Through Public Participation - Case of the New Town, Kolkata", Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai, 16 March 2002. [J.J20.16MAR02EPW].

Auroville, or 'the city of dawn', is a unique township located in a predominantly rural district of Villupuram in Tamil Nadu. At the time of its establishment in 1968. The area was barren and deforested. Three decades later, the Auroville community has transformed a veritable desert into a lush green place Luigi and Gay of the Auroville. Instead of metros, the focus should be on small townships which are self-sufficient and are linked to other townships by a network of speedy communication facilities. .    Chak, Ajit and Chettri Mridula ,"Small Towns do Not Degrade the Rural Environment", Down To Earth, New Delhi, 15 April 2000. [C.J20.150400DTE].

Uniyal, Mahesh, " In Nature's Backyard", Down To Earth, New Delhi, 15 July 1999.
[C.J20.150799DTE]. /eldoc/j20_/15jul99dte1.html


The Shiv Sena may believe that influx into Mumbai is rising, but demographic data over the past five decades shows otherwise. Also, the average percentage of people from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar migration to Mumbai - special targets of the Sena's ire-between 1961 and 1991 is 15.4 per cent of the total influx, while those coming from the rest of Maharashtra account for 42.2 per cent.

Demographic changes are slow, yet they make a significant statement. And the one for Mumbai is that people do come here in search of work, but all of them don't settle down. We also have to consider the fact that a huge local population was forced to move since manufacturing and industrial units shut down," says Dr. Sudha Desphande, (retd) Reader (Demography), Department of Economics, Mumbai University. .    Deshmukh, Smita , " Migration Into City Rising? Not Quite, says Census", The Times of India,
Mumbai, 05 May 2003. [C.J06.050503TOI].

Khurana, M. L., "Time To Dam The Flow - Mass migration from rural to urban India will destroy both the spirit of growth and quality of life", The Economics Times, Mumbai, 02 July 2003,[C.J20] /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M008.html
Abs: Mass migration from rural to urban India will destroy both the spirit of growth and quality of life.
 Other Articles in our archives


" Fact File: India and the World - Urban Population"  in 'World Development indicators 2000' , 12 Dec 2003, (C.J20) /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M004.html
Abs: The urban population is exploding the world over. Tokyo, Mumbai and Lagos are expected to grow faster than other cities listed here. Mumbai in India had over five million in 1970 whereas its population shot up to 15 million in 1996 and may be nearly equal to Tokyo’s by 2015.

"India's Urban Population up by 68 m" , Economy Bureau, Business Standard, Kolkatta, 20 July 2001, [C.J20] /eldoc/urban_issues/uu1_M007.html
Abs: The percentage of Indians living in urban areas went up by 2.1 per cent between 1991 and 2001. according to the rural-urban population tables of the census released today, India’s urban population went up by 68 million during the 1990s while the rural population increased by 113 million.

A.S. Iyer, "Urbanisation of India", Deccan Herald, Bangalore, 09 September 2001.

Ashish Bose, "Trend of Urbanization in India, 1901-1971", in ' Studies in India's Urbanisation', Tata McGrow Hill Publishing Co. Ltd., 1973. p. 114.

Roy, Barun,  "The ‘slumming’ of India", Business Standard, Mumbai, 03 November 2000.
[C.J20.031100BSB]. /eldoc/j20_/03nov00bsb1.html

The Brown agenda is the built environment. Megacities like Bombay leave a big ecological foot-print. Tibaijuka, Anna Kajumulo , "Brown Is Beautiful", The Times of India, Mumbai, 07 September 2002.[C.J10.070902TOI].

Banerjee-Guha , Swapna, "Shifting Cities", Economic and Political Weekly, Mumbai, 01 December 2002.  [J.J20.01DEC02EPW].

24.    Agrawal, Manu, "City backyards", Down To Earth, New Delhi, 15 June 2003.
[C.J20.150603DTE]. /eldoc/j20_/15jun03dte7.html

Amchi Mumbai, Mohti


With a projected population of 28.5 million in the year 2020, Mumbai will be the most populous city in the world surpassing Tokyo's projected 27.3 million -Rajghatta, Chidanand  "Mumbai Set for Dubious Honour as World's Most Crowded City", The
Indian Express, Mumbai, 30 December 2000. [C.J20.301200IE].

Sekhar, Vaishnavi C , "A Fast Growing City Like Mumbai Faces Resettlement Problem", The
Times of India, Mumbai, 14 February 2002. [C.J20.140202TOI].

David, M. D. Dr, "Bombay's Urbanisation - An Overview", in 'Urban Explosion of Mumbai; Restructuring of Growth', Himalaya Publishing House, Mumbai, April 1996, [C.J20],
Abs: Firstly, Bombay was a populous city with "Merchants, tradesmen and artificers of all sorts"; secondly, it was a chief port of trade; thirdly, it had a cosmopolitan character— its inhabitants included Hindus, Muslims, Christians and a few Europeans; fourthly, there was scarcity of land and therefore the government planned to reclaim 4000 acres of land in Central Bombay, then covered by the flood tides


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