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Day 67 – Q 3.Do you think our current urbanisation pattern creates a platform for poverty and destitution? Analyse.

3. Do you think our current urbanisation pattern creates a platform for poverty and destitution? Analyse.  

क्या आपको लगता है कि हमारा वर्तमान शहरीकरण पैटर्न गरीबी और निराश्रयता के लिए एक मंच बनाता है? विश्लेषण करें।


The world passed a landmark statistic sometime in 2014, when over 50% of the world’s population was estimated to be living in urban areas. The world’s urban areas are highly varied, but many cities and towns are facing problems such as a lack of jobs, homelessness and expanding squatter settlements, inadequate services and infrastructure, poor health and educational services and high levels of pollution.


  • Urbanisation is an increase in the number of people living in towns and cities. Urbanisation occurs mainly because people move from rural areas to urban areas and it results in growth in the size of the urban population and the extent of urban areas. 
  • These changes in population lead to other changes in land use, economic activity and culture. Historically, urbanisation has been associated with significant economic and social transformations. . However, urbanisation also has disadvantages caused by rapid and unplanned urban growth resulting in poor infrastructures such as inadequate housing, water and sanitation, transport and health care services.
  • It is clear that in the last century, which saw rapid urbanization across the globe, India did not face an “urban explosion” as did many other regions of the world, especially in the Americas. India’s level of urbanization increased from 17.6 per cent in 1951 to only 23.7 per cent in 1981 and 27.8 per cent in 2001. Consistent with its low per capita income India ranks among the last thirty in the list of countries listed according to their urbanization levels.
  • Although the total urban population increased more than 11 fold between 1901 and 2001, from about 26 million to 285 million, the number of settlements increased by 140 percent to 4378 from 1830. The increase in the number of towns has also been steady across the decades.
  • Thus most of the growth has been due to the enlargement of existing towns at every level and not significantly due to the addition of new towns. The majority of settlements now classified as towns have exhibited urban characteristics for a long time. 
  • The rapid increase in urban populations has meant that peri-urban areas are growing much more quickly than formal urban centres. Peri-urban areas are those areas immediately around a town or city. They are areas in transition from countryside to city (rural to urban), often with undeveloped infrastructure, where health and sanitation services are under pressure and where the natural environment is at risk of degradation.
  • Rapid population increases and unplanned growth create an urban sprawl with negative economic, social, and environmental consequences. In developing countries, about a third of urban inhabitants live in impoverished slums and squatter settlements (UN-Habitat, 2012). Slums are urban areas that are heavily populated and have substandard housing with very poor living conditions, creating several problems.
  • Many low-income families gravitate to these informal settlements that proliferate in and around towns. Poverty is one of the most critical issues facing urban areas. Urban poverty degrades both the physical and social environment. This then makes it more difficult for people to escape from poverty and they fall victim to the ‘vicious cycle’.
  • However, urban problems may be magnified in megacities (congestion, waste disposal, air pollution, lack of housing) and prove more problematic to solve. India has many megacities in the present day.
  • These factors have created breeding grounds for urban poverty and destitution which have the following features –   
  • Inadequate income leading to inadequate consumption. 
  • Inadequate supply or non-existence of public infrastructure like provision of piped water supply, drainage, roads, footpaths, etc.
  • Inadequate provision of basic services that include, for example, schools, day-care centers, vocational training institutions, health care centers, transport and communication, etc.
  • Absence of protection from disasters and hazards in the fields of environmental safety, pollution, ethnic conflicts, violence, discrimination and exploitation.
  • In India, urbanization is still viewed by many as a disease, and a trend that needs to be reversed. Urban areas instead of being seen as an opportunity are seen as entities that are a burden, unruly and chaotic. Most coverage in the press harps on highlighting the issues of environmental degradation, inequity, slums, unemployment, poverty and chaos. This further hampers the overall image and standing of urban areas.


With variations in the size of the cities and towns, the intensity of the brunt of poverty experienced by the poor may also vary. In fact, it is expected that the acuteness of poverty would be higher in metropolitan areas, like Bangalore city, than in smaller cities and towns, which further necessitates action based on a bottom up approach of planning. 

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