UPSC MAINS SOCIOLOGY SYLLABUS
Paper 2 – Section C – (iii) Industrialization and Urbanisation in India:
(a) Evolution of modern industry in India.
(b) Growth of urban settlements in India.
(c) Working class: structure, growth, class mobilization.
(d) Informal sector, child labour
(e) Slums and deprivation in urban areas.
India is rapidly urbanising and is estimated to host 50 per cent of its population in cities by 2050. Cities are India’s economic powerhouses and a magnet for a large rural population seeking a better life. While many of these people making the move to urban centres do so in search of jobs and better lives, millions end up living in slums, and conditions for the urban poor are going from bad to worse. Today, one in six urban citizens in India live below the poverty line.
WHAT IS URBANISATION?
Urbanization is a result of the historic transformation of human societies, where the rural culture is being replaced by urban culture. Sociologists define urbanisation as the movement of people from villages to town or city where economic activities are centred around non-agricultural occupations such as trade, manufacturing industry and management.
THINKERS ON URBANISATION
- Ferdinand Tonnies wrote about the changes that occurred as societies changed from small, rural, and traditional cultures to larger, urban, and industrial settings. He said that a sense of community, or Gemeinschaft, characterizes traditional societies. In these societies, family, kin, and community ties are quite strong, with people caring for each other and looking out for one another. As societies grew and industrialized and as people moved to cities, he wrote, social ties weakened and became more impersonal. Tonnies called this type of society a Gesellschaft, and he was quite critical of this development. He lamented the loss in urban societies of close social bonds and of a strong sense of community, and he feared that a sense of rootlessness in these societies begins to replace the feeling of stability and steadiness characteristic of small, rural societies.
- Emile Durkheim appreciated the social bonds and community feeling, which he called mechanical solidarity, characteristic of small, rural societies. However, he also thought that these societies stifled individual freedom and that social ties still exist in larger, urban societies. He called these latter ties organic solidarity, which he said stems from the division of labor.
- In 1938, University of Chicago sociologist Louis Wirth wrote a very influential essay, “Urbanism as a Way of Life,” in which he took both a positive and a negative view of cities. He agreed with Tonnies that cities have a weaker sense of community and weaker social bonds than do rural areas. But he also agreed with Durkheim that cities generate more creativity and greater tolerance for new ways of thinking.
- Conflict theorists assumes a basic conflict between society’s “haves” and “have-nots,” or between the economic and political elites and the poor and people of color. This type of conflict, says conflict theory, manifests itself especially in the nation’s cities, in which the “haves” and “have-nots” live very different lives.
- According to symbolic interactionists, social inequality based on social class, race/ethnicity, gender, age, and sexual orientation affects the quality of urban experiences.
- Joel M. Halpern has characterised the incorporation of very large number of rural people into towns and cities without their being absorbed into the urban ways of life as “peasantization of cities”.
Urban poverty is a form of poverty that is particularly visible in megacities, characterised by poor living circumstances and income, as well as a lack of essential utilities for a decent standard of life. India has a population of 65.49 million people living in 13.7 million slum households across the country. As much as 65 per cent of Indian cities have adjoining slums where people live in small houses adjacent to each other.
Over the years, a shortage of adequate investment in quality education and basic services like health, sanitation, waste management and skill training has had its consequences. It has led to generations of malnourished, uneducated, unaware and unskilled or semi-skilled people who find it difficult to find decent paying jobs. Unemployment or underemployment and the casual and intermittent nature of work in urban areas lead to indebtedness, that in turn, reinforces poverty. Most relief funds and benefits do not reach slum dwellers, mainly because these settlements are not officially recognised by the government.
Government of India launched Smart Cities Mission to identify and roll out smart cities in order to drive economic growth, strengthen governance as well as enhance the quality of life for people. AMRUT scheme intends to rejuvenate cities by improving the green cover and open spaces, as well as assuring water supply and sewerage connection in each household. Housing for All or Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana scheme was launched with the sole purpose of providing a roof on each head by the year 2022.
Well-planned cities lead to value creation through optimal distribution and utilisation of resources. It is also essential to closely monitor the rate of urbanisation as it will aid in the process of building sustainable pathways to socio-economic development in the country. A dual focus on planned and uniform urbanisation will go a long way in attaining global recognition for India’s urban story.