At per the Census 2011, there are 468 Class I towns. 264.9 million Persons, constituting 70.1 of the total urban population live Class I towns. Among the million – plus cities, there are three very large cities with more than 10 million persons in the country. These are Greater Mumbai UA (18.4 million) Delhi UA (16.3 million) and Kolkata UA (14.1 million).
The vast majority of the population of India has always lived in the rural areas and that continues to be true, the 2001 Census found that 72% of our population still lives in villages, while 28% is living in cities and towns. However the urban population has been increasing its share steadily from about 11% at the beginning of the twentieth century to about 28% at the beginning of 21st century.
Process of modern development ensures that the economic and social significance of the agrarian rural way of life denies relation to the significance of the industrial-urban way of life. This has been broadly true all over the world and true in India as well. While the majority of our people lives in the rural areas and makes their living out of agriculture, the relative economic value of what they produces has fallen drastically.
Moreover more and more people who live in villages may no longer work in agriculture or even in villages, Rural people are increasingly, engaged in non-farm rural occupation like transport services, business enterprises or craft manufacturing.
If they are close enough, then they may travel daily to the nearest urban Centre to work while continuing to live in village. Mass media and communication channels are now bringing images of urban-life styles and patterns of consumption into the rural areas. Consequently urban norms and standards are becoming well-known even in the remote villages, creating new desires and aspirations for consumption.
Considered from an urban point of view, the rapid growth is combination shows that the town or city has been acting as a magnet for the rural population. Those who cannot work in the rural areas go to the city in search of work.
This flow of rural-to-urban migration has also been accelerated by the continuous decline of common property resource like ponds, forests and grazing lands. If people no longer have access to these resources, but on the other hand have to buy many things in the market that they used to get free, and then their hardship increases. This hardship is worsened by the fact that opportunities for earning cash income are limited in the villages.
Sometimes the city may also be preferred for social reasons, especially the relative anonymity it offers. The fact that urban life involves interaction with strangers can be an advantage for different reasons.
For the socially oppressed groups like the SC & STs, this may offer some partial protection from the daily humiliation they may suffer in the village where everyone knows lower caste identity. The anonymity of the city also allows the poorer sections of the socially dominant rural groups to engage in low status work that they would not be able to do in the village. All these reasons make the city an attractive destination for the villages.
A high proportion of rural population implies that the economy is still heavily dependent on agriculture and the traditional social order is still intact. The states of Bihar, M.P., Orissa and Rajasthan are largely under-developed and industrialization has not resulted in urbanization on any significant scale. Among the major states, Tamil Nadu is the most urbanized with 44% of its population living in urban areas, followed by Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and West Bengal.
In all these states the proportion of urban population to total population is higher than the national average of 27.8%. Goa with 49.8 per cent of the population lives in urban areas has the first rank of urbanization followed by Mizoram (49.6%), and Himachal Pradesh has the lowest rank of urbanization with 9.8%. According to Census 2001, the urban centres have been categorized into the following six population size classes of town.
It is clear from above that there is an increase in population nearly in all classes of town except class VI. While urbanization has been occurring at a rapid pace, it is the biggest cities – the metropolises – that have been growing the fastest.
These metros attract migrants from the rural areas as well as from small towns. These are now 5,161 towns and cities are India where 286 million people live. What is striking; however is that more than two-thirds of the urban population lives in 27 big cities with million-plus populations? Clearly the largest cities in India are growing at such a rapid rate that the urban infrastructure can hardly keep pace.