Spatial disparities have marked the Indian urban scenario. These disparities emerged mainly due to regional disparities, imbalanced population concentration and sometimes because of the change in the census definition of “urban areas’. In this context we need to mention about two concepts, namely over-urbanization and suburbanization. Towns or urban areas have certain limitations in accommodating population, providing civic amenities or catering to such needs as schooling, hospitals etc. Beyond certain optimum capacities, it becomes difficult for the town administration to provide facilities for the increasing population. Bombay and Calcutta are two such examples of cities (among others) which have urban population growth beyond their capacities to manage. This feature refers to over-urbanization.
Closely related to over-urbanization of a town is a feature called suburbanization. When towns get over-crowded by population, it may result in suburbanization. Delhi is a typical example (among others) where sub-urbanization trend is taking place around it. Sub-urbanization means urbanization of rural areas around the towns characterized by the following features:
(a) Increase in the ‘urban (non-agricultural) uses’ of land,
(b) Inclusion of surrounding areas of town within its municipal limits and
(c) Intensive communication of all types between town and its surrounding areas.
According to Mill and Becker, urbanization is a natural and consequence of economic development. Urbanization accompanies economic development because economic development entails a massive shift of labour and other inputs from predominantly rural sectors to those predominantly urban. The National Commission Urbanization of India recognizes the economic importance of the Indian cities and towns. It considers “urbanization as a catalyst for economic development and that the towns and cities despite their problems are for the millions and millions of our people the road to a better future”.
we examine the various cities in India, we find that some cities have come up during the last eighty years in places where there was nothing but forests earlier. One of the first steel cities in India, like Jamshedpur in Bihar, has provided employment to a large number of people including the Santhals. These tribals who were relatively isolated earlier have come into contact with a wide section of Indian population, coming from different regions, speaking different languages and so on.
Besides Jamshedpur, three more steel towns have emerged after Independence. These are Bhilai in Madhya Pradesh, Rourkela in Orissa and Durgapur in West Bengal. Emergence of these steel factories has brought about not only property but has led to the modification of the whole social scenario of this area. According to Srinivas, areas which were socio-economically backward have now become prosperous and cosmopolitan.
While talking about the economic features of urbanization in contemporary India, occupational diversification and migration appear to be the key aspects. The degree of urban-industrialization and planned development through the Five Year Plans could not bring about a significant shift in occupational structure in Indian. The percentage of Indian labour force in agriculture remained static between 1901 and 1971. In the mentioned period 69.4% of the total labour force was in agriculture respectively. Though the percentage of urban population increased substantially during this period there has not been corresponding increase in the percentage of the labour force in the urban manufacturing, construction and service sector.
The proportion of urban population engaged in the primary sector (comprising, household industry, mining quarrying and fishing) showed an increase and that in the secondary sector (Comprising manufacturing and processing) showed decrease contrary to expectations. The tertiary sector (comprising commerce and service) showed a slight recovery. Even within the urban sector, there is a distinct traditional/rural component of occupation which is significant
This brings out the still persisting and unabsorbed rural element in the urban sector, mostly in the periphery of large urban settlements and in the medium and small towns with a strong agricultural base. It appears that the urban commercial sector responded more to urbanization than did the industrial sector in terms of working population.
There is widespread unemployment among the unskilled and other marginal workers in most of the cities. Again, unemployment among educated classes in urban areas is a peculiar feature in Indian society. It is estimated that 46% of the total educated unemployed are reported to be concentrated in the four major metropolitan cities in Indian.
In the process of urbanization in India, migration of the rural people to the urban areas has been continuous and is an important feature. The Urban Commission of India viewed rural urban migration to be “of vital importance for the development of rural areas”.