Umland: Concept and Overview

The area linked socially and economically to an urban settlement has been given various names. Some geographers have adopted the German term ‘Hinterland’ meaning thereby the region served by a port. In America, it is known as ‘Sphere of Influence’. The term ‘Sphere of Influence’ was first used by Northam and supported by Carter. It is preferred by political geographers. Other expressions like ‘Zone of Influence’, ‘Tributary Area’, or ‘Catchment Area’ have also been used. But they have some difficulties to bring the meaning of a region explicit. City region is an area influenced by an urban centre into two dimensions. The town acts both as centripetally as well as centrifugally. Goods and services flow into and out of a city and thus, the city and the region are economically interdependent. It is neither a sphere of influence nor does it necessarily form a continuous zone. The term ‘city region’ was first used by Dickinson. It is used to describe a similar situation on a much larger scale. A city cannot sustain by itself but it is linked by its surrounding countryside interdependently. For this very purpose, an appropriate word ‘Umland’ has been used by different geographers. The term ‘Umland’ is a German word, translated from a Swedish word ‘Omland’ (‘Om’ means around and ‘land’ means area) (Singh, 2007). This term is mainly applied for inland towns that deals in all directions but unfortunately this term has also been applied to the immediate environs of a town as well as to a larger area served by it (Johnson, 1972). The word ‘Umland’ with a geographical perspective was first used by Ander Allix, a French geographer in 1914. He claimed to have coined it himself to express his concept of economic domain meaning thereby the areas immediately around an interior city. The term was again used by the same author in 1922 in his article in the ‘Geographical Review’ (Mandal, 2000). Thus, the word ‘Umland’ was substituted by many geographers for ‘Urban Hinterland’, ‘Sphere of Influence’, ‘Catchment Area’, ‘Urban Field’ and ‘City Region’.

Umland is a region that is closely linked economically with a nearby town or city (Encyclopedia, 1768). Though Allix did not coin the word, he was certainly the first to give it a geographical meaning. Among the American Geographers, Stanley D. Dodge was the first to use it in 1932. Later on, D. Whittlesey also made use of it in 1937 in his study of Kano, a Sudanese city. He simply demarcated an area of extending within a radius of 50 or 60 kilometres on all sides of the city. In England, the word caused a slight breeze in a discussion that followed Green’s paper ‘Urban Hinterland’ which refers to area linked beyond or behind the city limits (Nath, 1962; Mandal, 2000). F.H.W. Green demarcated the extent of hinterlands in some urban centres of England and Wales by adopting the analysis of bus services (Green, 1950)

Van Cleef also used the term ‘Umland’ and differentiated it with hinterland with respect to areal limits. He explained ‘Umland’ as the area continuous to a trade centre (extending to and indicating its suburbs or urblets) whose total economic and cultural activities are essentially one with those of the primary centre. He divided the economic domain into two parts (Cleef, 1941).

Nath also preferred to use ‘Umland’ defining it as “an area of functional unity which develops around every urban settlement in response to its socio-economic relations with the surrounding countryside” (Nath, 1962). In the year 1938, Stiangendour identified the ‘Umland’ of certain towns of England of which the immediate areas around these towns had been demarcated (Mandal, 2000). He defined ‘Umland’ as “the immediate rural land surrounding a metropolitan city and distinguished it from hinterland which denotes the entire accessible land beyond the Umland of a city within a country” (Rao, 1981).

R. L. Singh, for the first time, gave a special preference for the expression of ‘Umland’. According to him, “the city as a living organism depends for its vitality not only on its internal resources but also on its capacity for its growth from a vast region surrounding it”. There is an areal limit set to the region in which these interrelated services operate efficiently beyond which centrifugal trends begin. Therefore, he defined Umland as “the area in which the city is culturally, economically and politically interrelated forms the Umland of a particular town or city”. Thus, he has done pioneering work in this field (Singh, 1955).

Khan and Shekhar (2000) defined ‘zone of influence’ as two-dimensional features: goods and services flows both into and out of a town. Most modern urban settlements and hinterlands are economically independent rather than one being a tributary to the other. Dikshit and Sawant referred ‘hinterlands’ as a region defined on the basis of nexus of relationships where a binding force actively work in the circulation of goods, movement of people, flow of ideas and a considerable degree of interdependence between the core and the area around. Hinterland had been treated as only a part of a nodal region. But the use of hinterland began to dominant for coastal and inland tributary regions in the mid 20th century (Dikshit and Sawant, 1968). Ramachandran (2009) used the term ‘areas of influence’ meaning thereby “the contiguous areas around a city from where people commute to the city to obtain goods or services”. The influence area for different services and goods may cover smaller or larger areas around the city and their shapes may also differ. Thus, it is possible to visualize a large number of service areas around the city.

Alam (1965) finds that service areas of Hyderabad and Secundrabad are not similar in their extent and calls them areas of ‘Metropolitan Dominance’ and ‘Metropolitan Association’. Chatterjee (1967) used the term ‘Hinterland’ for Howrah perhaps to highlight its character of a shopping centre (Mandal, 2000). He said that the hinterland of a city is composed of areas intimately linked with it and most of these areas are located at some distance away from its surrounding. Likewise Van Cleef, Dutt also differentiated between Hinterland and Umland and finds hinterland as a extended economic sphere of a city whereas an Umland is the stage of cultural, economic and political phenomena in which the city and its surroundings are functionally interconnected to each other (Dutt, 1963).

Krishna and Aggrawal (1973) defined ‘Umland’ as the “contiguous area which functionally interconnected to the service centres through certain specified criteria”. A city’s hinterland is a vast physical area compared to the city proper and it performs a variety of functions. The size and complexity of the city will govern the size and complexity of its hinterland and the relationships between them.

V. L. S. P. Rao (1964) assumed that the area of influence of a town is circular. The radius of which can be calculated with statistically. R. R. M. Rao (1981) referred ‘city region’ as the core area between a city and its region which are interrelated to each other. There may be an area outside this region which may be having links with the city but the intensity of the interaction is not found as strong as in the core area.

Verma (2006) examined the ‘areas of influence’. According to him, each city generally forms the core of a larger area and dominates that area by virtue of several service areas within it. The dominant area actually is the city’s sphere of influence. The area of the dominance of sphere of influence consists of a number of a single featured nodal region within it. Similarly, according to Christaller, every rank or level in the hierarchy would have a particular sphere of influence. Thus, the town at the head of a five-level hierarchy would have the distinctive spheres; the largest corresponds to the whole region and the others to each of the lower ranks. The existence and definition of those various spheres depend on the assumption that people will travel to the nearest place at which some goods or services are easily available (Carter, 1995). Gopi delimited the ‘Economic Hinterland’ of Vishakhapatnam port by making off the equilibrium of distant points from which it is likely to face competition. The Umland of a metropolitan city may consist essentially a series of areas rather than one continuous geographical region (Gopi, 1973).

Dickinson (1952) called ‘city region’ as “a constellation, a cluster of centres around the capital and the influence of the latter is made evident in its environs by a radiating system of traffic routes and further afield by isolated single strands running to a separate town, each of which, in its turn, is a local centre of radiating routes through which it, rather than the metropolis becomes the dominant centre for local affairs”. It is in the ‘suburban area’ that the most potent influence is exercised by the metropolitan community but this extends much further over a more vaguely defined ‘trade area’ or ‘hinterland’ which may be included in the concept of city region. According to him, the ‘city region’ is not to be regarded as a clearly defined geographical unit with sharply defined limits. Likewise, Dickinson, R.D. McKenzie (1952) defined ‘metropolitan region’ as “constellation of centres, the interrelationship of which is characterized by dominance and subordination”.

City and the surrounding region are dependent upon each other. The countryside is the source area of several essential requirements of the city which, in turn, provide it with urban amenities and commodities. This ideal symbiotic relationship between the city and countryside makes the latter a nodal functional region which is termed as ‘Umland’ (Sharma, 1985). Thus, the Umland can be defined as the geographical region which surrounds a city and maintains inflow and outflow relationships with the city. It is an area over which an urban centre exerts some kind of indirect cultural, economic, military or political domination. City and countryside are connected and interlinked in a hub and spoke pattern. Each of them has something to exchange with all of others (Magnaghi, 2005). Certain cities in urban areas have greater value for certain specific purposes. This value is established by a web of relationships with other surrounding uses (Singh and Dharamjog, 1998). Generally, each city forms the core of a larger area which it dominates with distance.

 

Outward from the core, the domination tends to weaker and eventually, the influence of some competing urban centre exceeds that of the city’s urban consideration. Umland focuses on the contiguous areas that include the city and the surrounding territory which serves and is served by a city.

Nature of Umland

The actual extent of Umland depends upon the order and freeway facilities available and the development of an urban centre. There have been two aspects of this particular inward and outward relationship within a region: 1) the first looked inward from the countryside and has been made concerned with consumer behaviour and the way in which people use the various urban centres and 2) the second looked outward from the town in order to identify the various areas served by it (Carter, 1995).

Every urban centre irrespective of their size of population and the nature of functions has a region of influence. The area served by a city’s newspaper may not be the same as the area served by the city’s public transport so that the boundary of Umland is not demarcated by a single line. In fact, there is hierarchy of influence area. There is one influence zone for each commodity according to its nature. Thus, it is obvious that the limits of the service area of towns, defined for a different purpose, will not coincide (Smailes, 1970). As the size of the population increases, the multiplicity of functions increases. As a result, the influence area of an urban centre is larger and vice versa. In other words, bigger size cities not only attract more number of migrants but also its spectrum of influence is wider. According to Rowley, the 50 per cent isopleths for any centre will indicate the point at which a settlement loses dominance. The bunching of isopleths at any point will indicate a sharp change of gradient and the limit of a sphere of influence related to a bundle of functions at a given rank in the hierarchy (Carter, 1995). It does not extend with even intensity to a certain limit and suddenly stop short. Rather there are zones of diminishing influence as the various functions are outranged (Smailes, 1970).

Umland of an urban centre change their shape and area over time and quite reasonably planners and geographers seek to redraw Umland boundaries from time to time to keep in tune with the perceived geographical reality of rural-urban relationships. The extent of Umland is usually proportional to the intensity of functions in and around an urban centre. But the spacing of competing centres of the population is also being highly influential. The contacts between the city and the countryside are varied and are getting multiplied. These urban-rural and rural-urban contacts involve the movement of people, goods and services in the form of ebb and flow or crest and trough. There is action, reaction and interaction between rural and urban counterparts. It is the intensity of rural-urban interaction that determines the area and shape of corresponding Umland (Rao, 1983). The extent of a town’s sphere of influence is not usually worked out fully in all directions to the extreme limit of its several services. Instead, it is cut short by the attraction of other urban centres. Relationships between town and countryside are essentially fluid. It is the study of margins that are fluctuating zones rather than lines (Smailes, 1970). Therefore, there are some various leading factors affecting the extent and size of Umland which are as follows:

 

Distance

Distance is one of the basic influential factors for the movement of commodities. The amount of flow decreases with the increasing distance. Similarly, the number of commodities becomes selective with distance. Distance also affects the frequency of persons. Supply and receipt of the commodities or frequency of persons are considered dependent variables on distance – an independent variable. In the system of urban places, distance plays a significant role not only in the urban system but in economic system too. Distance is a decisive factor. The distance does not mean the distance in terms of miles and kilometres. It is the distance in terms of economic advantage. This ‘economic’ distance is determined by the cost of visits and the range of goods offered at one place. The outer boundary of Umland reveals the maximum possible radius of sales and purchases. Beyond this extreme boundary, the prices of goods become high and it is not suitable for sale or purchase a particular commodity for a common person (everyone). It may be either because great distance results in additional high cost or price or the proximity of consumer to an alternative centre. Increasing distance from an urban centre implies faster growth of competition from other centres in the case of a small urban centre than in the case of a big urban centre (Claeson, 1969). Thus, this limit determines the largest or smallest complementary region of certain services for an urban centre maintaining the relationship with its countryside.

Transport Facilities
Good transportation spurs economic activity by giving mobility to production factors. Good transport enlarges the area of Umland in terms of flows of people, agricultural products, raw material and information from the areas of lack to the surplus one. Efficient transportation also enlarges the areas to which a given settlement may distribute its products economically. Improvement in transport facilities may also attribute to lower the prices and hence production costs which, in turn, improve production efficiency. It also encourages technological diffusion and increases non-agricultural employment in less developed areas. If an urban centre is well connected with efficient road and rail network with its hinterland, that area exerts its influence over a comparatively larger area and vice versa. Transport also affects the efficiency of the labour market and labour participation rates in terms of the communication problems of time and fare expenses. Well distributed networks and wide spread service mean that the power communication capacity and density of network connections in each city are not subordinate to urban size. The rank of the city is established only by its identifying characterization, productive excellence and rational and communication power (Magnaghi, 2005).

 

Socio-Economic Conditions of the Inhabitants of Countryside

The economic thinking remains active behind the selective movement among urban centres for various purposes. The individual decision of selection is based on the differences in expected earning both in the urban areas and in the villages (Braun, 2007). The people with better education, skills and labour market experience have a comparative advantage in the job search at the destination labour market and therefore are more likely to move over long distances. They can afford additional high transportation cost. In such a case, the better socio-economic conditions neglect the impact of factors such as transportation facilities and distance. While the poor household faces financial constraints, transportation costs limit the available choice of urban centres and, therefore, it might discourage mobility. Thus, the movement over a longer distance is a riskier strategy for poorer households who are more likely to suffer in the absence of productive household members. In this way, income differential plays an important role in choosing an urban centre for various purposes.

 Areas of Surplus and Deficit

Interaction generally develops between places because of areal differentiation – the fact that places differ from one another. The factor of movement involves outflow of surplus production and inflow of deficit commodities. This system of movement is not only confined to regional limits but it moves across as it depends upon other regions for various demand, supply and services. It is, thus, an interconnected chain of demand and supply which is a hierarchic system of settlements over various regions. Therefore, inter and intra regional are making platform for any kind of movement over space. Intensity of interaction explains the degree of independence within a region and among the regions. Such demand and supply must be specifically complementary. Complementary is so important as a basis for special interaction that many low-value bulk commodities can move many thousands of kilometres if complementary conditions are properly met. Without the specific complementary of such supply and demand regions, the movements and interactions would never take place (Prabha, 1979).

 

 Nature of Commodities

Perishables of agricultural origin are products that are susceptible to keeping quality loss such as ageing and break down of vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products. The distribution of perishable usually starts after the harvest and includes activities such as transportation, handling in and out of storage and conditioning. Due to its perishable nature, it is very important that the vegetables bought from the rural areas are promptly transported and distributed for shortage or consumption over shorter distances. Thus, the distribution (purchasing and selling) areas of these perishable products are smaller in comparison to other products. Due to substantial transportation and technological improvement during the 20th century, more capital intensive production grow at the urban edge like fruits and vegetables while less capital intensive and more land extensive commodities such as foodgrains are more common in areas farther from the urban centres.

 Consumer’s Choice

Consumer travel patterns form the basis for the movement over space. Generally, short distance movements are extremely frequent and frequency of movements decreases with the distance. But, a location with a distinct facility set up generates interaction despite restriction posed over it. Characteristics such as age, gender, ethnic background and socioeconomic status such as income and education influence the decision to migrate to the city, over shorter as well as longer distances.

 

Likewise to remain in the city or return to the village, visit home regularly or not and all related decisions are mainly determined by the choice of an individual person. It varies from person to person. Some factors such as products assigned quality and price of the product also have an impact on the choice of the consumer for a particular product. It depends whether the consumer in a particular situation is willing to buy a particular product or not.

 Reciprocal Relationships between City and Countryside

The rural milieu can not be divorced from the urban systems which are embedded in it. It is essential that the geographical study of rural areas takes into account an explicit urban component. When formulating future development plans, it is important that rural-urban linkages are fully understood. Neither urban nor rural development should be treated in isolation.

Interaction of city and its countryside is of varying nature. This interaction may be in terms of agricultural products (foodgrains, fruits and vegetables), industries in terms of raw material, administrative and also of certain services such as medical, educational, communication and recreational. The various types of links are given below:
 Circulation of Goods

 

Agriculture is the main sector that provides the livelihood to the majority of the population. A trend in agricultural produce is the most important channel accomplishing such an interaction. This trade flows may be defined as the flow of resources or goods from points of production or processing to points of consumption or further processing, that is between points of supply and points of demand. This flow takes place due to the spatial pattern of demand which do not correspond with the spatial availability of supply. Both spatial and non-spatial factors underlie the generation of this movement. The spatial factors relate to the influence of relative location upon the generation of movement. On the other hand, the non-spatial factors comprise the economic characteristics of the places generating the movement.

The towns, therefore, depend on the countryside for agricultural production. Cities cannot be sustained without dependable supplies of food, natural resources and industrial crops, whereas rural economy depends on urban markets, central place services and the urban network connecting rural production to more distant national and

 

 

international markets and information. The technical advancement in agriculture leads to an increase in agricultural outputs, including the output of perishable foods for urban markets. The increase has been aided by the agriculture extension and related programmes and extension of irrigation through a rapid increase in number of electrified wells and tube wells as well as by extension of canals (Nath, 2007).

Movement of People

The transformation of farm technology by creating a surplus of farm labour through the mechanization of the farming operation and by increasing the intensity of cropping usually reduced the demand of labour on agriculture. As a result, a number of farm labourers become jobless. So unemployed persons or jobless labourers commute in different directions where job opportunities are available. It constitutes the poor rural class of migrants adding directly to the labour supply in the urban areas. However, it is not always the poorest who migrate. Migration takes place from all social classes in rural areas with different objectives and for different jobs. So, the migrants coming from the rural areas are either poor or rich. The migration of rich rural class is governed by two factors – firstly, they have the interest to start non-farm agricultural or non-agricultural activities in the nearby urban areas. Secondly, better access to the marketing, medical or educational facilities attracts them to settle down in nearby towns. Most of such migrants maintain their links with the land and keep two establishments one in the village and other in the town. It is also considered that the overall socio-economic environment influences the migration decision (Kumar, 1988).

Sometimes, in collective farming, some agricultural labourers are made free. So, they move to the areas of plentiful land or to non-agricultural employment. Thus, there exists a positive correlation between poverty and propensity to migrate. Poverty may be an effective reason for movement from non-agricultural to industrial employment. All these factors together make it difficult to improve one’s standard of living beyond basic sustenance. Farm living is also dependent on unpredictable environmental conditions.

 Flow of Information

It may be in the form of information about demand from consumers to firms, from firms to resource owners, the information on markets, employment opportunities, ideas and social change and the transmission or diffusion of innovations around an economy. This information may be communicated through the economy by means of spoken or written word and by mass media.

Flows of information form the major source base for spatial integration at all levels of hierarchy (national, regional and local). It spreads through the news and entertainment media such as newspaper, magazine, radio and television. It helps in bridging the existing information gap and raising the level of awareness. As such, information flows are the important aspects of interaction studies; they play a vital role in accelerating the economic activity of a place. Spread of information generally depends on the efficient media network and means of communication (UNDP, 2000). The advent of media in the form of newspaper, radio and television changes the villagers’ perspective without necessarily changing the village itself. Thus, the geographical consequences due to the presence of modernization are not necessarily visible or one too minor to be taken into consideration. The phenomenon of change often affects rural spaces. It may transform the way of life even though there may be any change in the general characteristics of the villages.

Flow of Money

Money sent home by migrants or complementary and opposite flow of money or payment in exchange for resources and goods received particularly in the form of food to rural relatives and assistance with the expanses of family members moving to the city. This type of exchange has become an important link between rural and urban areas. Several studies, particularly during the 1960’s to 1980’s, have shown that many rural people depend upon economic help from relatives in the cities (Okali, 2001).

Other Magnetic Forces

Improvements in health, education, recreational and other facilities play an important additional role in the process of economic development. But a great disparity in development is found even over a smaller unit of area. Such disparity, in its turn, would attract population towards those regions where these and other facilities are concentrated. There are some other attractive forces which push countrymen towards urban centres and metropolitan cities. These are better employment opportunities in factories, advanced educational opportunities (degree colleges, professional institutions and universities), the great variety of entertainment.

 

 

SPACE OF INTERACTION

medical services, and many more other facilities which are not available in villages that pull rural inhabitants to urban centres. People especially the elder one are often forced to move to cities where there are hospitals and doctors that can cater their health needs. It leads to an excessive concentration of urban population (Ghosh, 1988). This also results in both an expanded urban territory in terms of size and an increased density in areas surrounding urban cores (Frey and Zimmer, 2001)

Concept of Socio-Economic Development

Development is the process of improving the quality of human beings. Development is more than a purely quantitative economic progress. It should also involve a quantitative improvement in the life of a nations’ population. Socio-economic development refers to the ability to produce an adequate and growing supply of goods and services productively and efficiently, to accumulate capital and to distribute the fruits of production in a relatively equitable manner (Jafee, 1998).

The process of urbanization is a complex system which comprises a set of interdependent entities, objectives, activities, infrastructure and land (Tiwari, 1988). However, it is the testimony of socio-economic and cultural development of a region or human group (Ali, et al., 2008). Development is a multi-dimensional phenomenon governed by several factors prevailing in an area. There are many socio-economic and cultural variables which together define levels of development. It can be measured as a process or as a state in terms of conditions necessary for development. Since nothing in this world is totally developed as seen from all angles or all contexts, development can be conceived as a process of being and becoming that involves ‘improvement’ in the living standard of the human being (Nayak, 2008). Moreover, the development of socio-economic infrastructure reflects on the quality of people’s lives of a particular region. The availability of infrastructure, industrialization, modernization and new technology determines the level of development.

The optimum level of growth depends upon the capacity of the urban centre in providing all required facilities to the people in a fair manner. High capacity enhances the level of optimum while the huge inflow of migrants than the capacity increases unnecessary stress on the civic finances for providing basic amenities. As a result, administrative machinery finds it to be over burdensome to maintain the essence of amenities and facilities to the inhabitants (Verma, 2006; Mandal, 2000). Such co-existence of developed and backward regions in a country, state, district, tahsil, and block leads to misallocation and underutilization of resources with the untapped potential of some areas. On the whole, such disparities are not at all conducive to development (Kumar, 2009). An unchecked and uncontrolled process of growth leading to regional disparities may result in economic, social and cultural problems. Reducing regional disparities in the levels of development are of major concern for any type of spatial planning.

 

 City and Countryside Socio-Economic Development

Cities are centres of economic production and consumption, areas of social networks and cultural activities and the seat of government and administration. The existence of such urban centres depends upon the region especially its surplus of agricultural produce, raw materials and labour. However, the prosperity of the region depends upon the quantum and quality of manufacturing activity, market, services provided by the cities. Functions and location of cities and towns are based on the carrying capacity of the region and on the other hand, the city radiates its economic, social and cultural effects in all directions up to and sometimes beyond the boundaries of the region (Chandna, 2000). In the past, when cities were centres of alien domination, they had hardly any role in the development of rural areas. In the post-independence period, the bigger cities have acquired a distinct cultural identity of their own. Nowadays, Indian cities play a major role in changing the social and economic environment of villages. There is greater interaction between the city and villages than before and the interaction continues to increase (Ramachandran, 2009).

The intensity of interaction (human movement and commodity flows) explains the degree of interdependence within a region and among the regions. Inter-regional linkages provide the scope for bridging the deficit gap and for the sale of surplus produce generated in the region. This also helps in the distribution of unequal resources over space or region (Kumar, 1991).

Cities provide more wealth by developing and networking each of its peripheral nodes. This activity increases the complexity and diversity of the system by linking up in a network with the specific features of local territorial systems, distributing and integrating rare services, augmenting the opportunities for exchanges and trade between diverse situations (Magnaghi, 2005). Each centre is connected in a network to the entire regional system, adding to the advantages of intense communication, information, mobility and freedom of choice.

 

Urban development promotes rural development and vice versa. A growing urban economy creates a growing market for agricultural products which promotes agriculture to develop. Urban centres can absorb the rural underemployed, thus, improving rural productivity and the compound effect is raised income per capita in rural areas. This would also bring about diversification in the occupational structure of the rural areas (Tannerfeldt and Ljung, 2006)

Rural-urban interaction represents a powerful strategy for enhancing income, increasing productivity, alleviating poverty and promoting employment in rural areas. Cities provide certain goods and services for rural areas because of the dynamic economic landscape that emphasizes secondary production and services. In this way, urban areas diffuse economic development in providing certain goods and services mainly agricultural products and labour for urban centres (Belsky, 1990). Thus, these urban centres can bring about economic and social transformation only if they possess institutional infrastructure for the diffusion of innovations and the economic growth generative functions for providing job opportunities to the adjacent tributary areas. Such symbiotic relationship though beneficial to both sides is expected to especially provide the necessary impetus for improving the economic prospects in terms of income, employment and poverty reduction of the rural areas. It also provides an important platform for the examination of the effectiveness of policies on food security in urban areas. Unfortunately, the prevailing system of linkages fails to connect all settlements at a minimum cost level, the regional economy fails to achieve the desired growth level. Once one region grows above the other, that region draws more and more skilled labour, resources from its lagging behind neighbouring areas. Most of these places grew at the cost of these less developed areas with migration pattern assuming new shape and trend, as overgrown regions offer better and easy job opportunities resulting in the disequilibrium of regional development. Whereas small and medium-size urban centres fail to generate developmental activities in their surrounding areas because of centripetal forces operating unhindered from the large urban centres. Thus, these smaller urban centres are far behind in their influence over its tributary area (Mayer, 1992).

The existing regional structure is, therefore, responsible for growing imbalances between the sectors of the economy and areal units. The city draws into itself a large number of rural people and develops into a rapidly growing industrial, commercial and infrastructural centre and thus offers opportunities for employment, education, trade, industry, recreation and health which, in turn, tends to tie the hierarchic system of settlement units into the chain of dependent units (Kumar, 1991). Thus, there is a need to exploit the potential that lies dormant in rural areas by providing the inputs and efficient linkages.

 

Source:

Shodhganga

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Caste System in India: A Perspective

Click here for a perspective on caste system in India

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COVID-19: A Battle for Human Survival, Increasing Food Insecurity and Poverty

Guest Post by Sanober Naheed 

 Food Security is a complex issue and has been a major concern for human populations struggle against hunger and malnutrition. Diseases and plagues have been divine scourges of inadvertent magnitudes to correct a nation of heretics as believers put it and skeptics deny.

As the world is struggling to contain the coronavirus, there have been speculations among the economic circles on the enormity of the damage caused to the global economy, food security and efforts to reduce poverty. The economic impacts resulting from earlier viral outbreaks of SARS, avian flu and MERS, which had caused direct damage to livestock sectors, eventually leading to food shortages and food price hikes in affected areas. In the present situation, no such major food shortages have occurred, but there have been reports of panic buying from several European countries, which again needs to be modified in a sustained manner in order not to hoard extra food to be discarded later.

The total shutdown of entire cities and regions to contain the spread of the virus has put a halt on economic activity, quarantining workers and idling factories and many services and many service activities. In an unprecedented move, the IMF and World Bank have decided not to hold their spring meetings virtually to avoid a large gathering of people and the spread of the virus. Going by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) projection under the worst-case scenario, global growth could be cut in half, to 1.5% in 2020.

Already a food price hike and market panic is evident globally, which will further jeopardize food security. In an urban age, with higher population densities and hence greater risk of a person to person transmission, it is likely that the economic activity is being directly affected by social distancing efforts to contain the COVID-19. From this economic slow down it is expected to pose a major risk for food security and a tangible increase in the number of people living in poverty. Based on International Food Policy Research Institute’s (IFPRI) global model which has calculated that for 1% of economic slowdown the number of people living in poverty and also in food insecurity would increase by 2% or by about 4 million worldwide and affecting 9 million people living in rural areas of developing countries.

It is being considered too early to jump to such conclusions, to believe that the virus will have major direct impacts on the supply of staple foods. Yet they have sounded caution with regard to food security. The implications of such a slowdown for poverty and food insecurity depend on the assumptions made about the duration of the pandemic and transmission mechanisms.

Overall 1% lower growth in the world economy would translate into a global increase in the extreme poverty rate of between 1.6% to 3%. IFPRI analysis puts forth that the greatest regional poverty impact would fall on Africa south of the Sahara, where 40-50% of global poverty increase would be concentrated. The impact of a trade shock would affect Africa’s poor more than those in South Asia. Africa’s economy are on average more dependent on trade than those of South Asia’s, having a large but closed economy. The productivity shocks, in contrast, would be a bigger impact on poverty in S.Asia than Africa, because of the adverse impact in the Scenario on non-agricultural sectors, which have a larger weight in South Asian economies (IFPRI March 2020).

Global food security already faces challenges

Many countries around the world are in the grip of hunger and malnutrition, for the past three years due to conflicts and the refugee crisis, climate change, and worsening inequality, with the Middle East and Sub-Saharan regions being particularly vulnerable. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 820 million people across the globe are already suffering from hunger, close to 150 million children in countries around the world are stunted because of a lack of proper nutrition. COVID-19 is a health crisis. If proper measures are not in place it may unfold a bigger crisis in the form of food security.

Need to learn from previous epidemics

The SARS and MERS outbreaks had relatively little impact on the economy and food and nutrition security of China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan, largely due to the country’s resilience and ability to cope with emergencies. Countries such as Singapore, Vietnam, and Canada, too, showed such resilience, because they have enough food reserves and boast of vibrant value chains linking the domestic and international markets.

But Ebola had a huge impact on the economies of some African countries’ agricultural production, marketing, and trade. On the production side, due to road blockages, farmers had limited access to inputs such as seeds, fertilizers, and insecticides. And many of the regions faced acute labor shortages.

All this resulted in more than 40 percent of the agricultural land not being cultivated. As for marketing, farmers could not transport fresh produce to local and urban markets. In addition, day meal programs in schools were disrupted because food aid could not be delivered to the schools. And trade was disrupted as international shipping services were either delayed or canceled because crew members of cargo vessels refused to travel to those countries for fear of being infected.

Food prices will shoot up if nations panic again

The 2008 food price crisis, too, taught us a valuable lesson. The crisis was caused by droughts in Australia and Argentina, increasing oil prices, rising use of food grains for biofuel production and trade policy failures. These prompted many countries to impose various export policies to restrict the export of food products.

For example, there was no shortage of rice supply, but due to panic behavior, many countries imposed higher taxes on rice exports or banned rice exports altogether. Rice prices doubled in the global market in six months, causing severe disruptions in rice trade leading to a food price crisis. If countries panic this time too, food trade and markets could be disrupted, albeit on a much larger scale.

The sharp rise in food prices was mainly caused by a combination of reduced cereal stocks, increased demand and the rising price of oil, increasing the cost of fertilizer and stimulating the production of biofuels in the US. By 2008, the number of hungry people in the world had increased to over 1 billion, up from 850 million in early 2007. Populations already affected by the crisis were the hardest hit. While globally the price of cereals had decreased, it remained high in many of these countries.

Governments around the world need to consider the scale and impact of the global food crisis on vulnerable populations, particularly city-dwellers – a neglected group in humanitarian response –subsistence farmers and pastoralists. Previous experience has shown how affected people reduced their food intake, changed their diet and reduced expenditure on basic goods such as health care and education, in some countries, migration, child labor and asset sales increased.

 

Conclusion

The COVID- 19 pandemic brings with it the third and greatest economic, financial and social shock of the 21st Century, after 9/11 and the Global Financial Crisis of 2008. This shock brings a halt in production in affected countries, hitting supply chains across the world, and a steep drop in consumption together with a collapse in confidence. The various measures being taken based on observations, although essential to contain the virus are pushing the economy further from where revival will be a daunting task.

The most urgent priority is to minimize the loss of life and health. The disruptions associated with the COVID-19 virus and the various responses to this pandemic are far more likely to adversely affect the poor and other marginalized groups with less power and resources to adapt to unpredictable crisis events. Not only will vulnerable populations and communities have greater difficulty accessing enough food for survival and adequate nutrition, but many also depend upon the food system’s stability for their livelihoods.

The COVID-19 crisis has laid bare stark weaknesses in our health care systems, from the number of intensive-care beds to the size of the workforce, the inability to provide enough masks and to deploy testing in some countries, and deficiencies in the research for and supply of drugs and vaccines. The real challenge comes from the lack of preparedness in the developing countries in the face of such a crisis which will put into question the ability of the system to tackle and deploy resources by streamlining management correctly. But only a combined, coordinated international effort will meet the challenge.

References:

  1. Hickel, J. (2019), The Global Food Crisis Is Here, Foreign Policy, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/08/21/the-global-food-crisis-is-here/
  2. Hall, B. (2020), Coronavirus and the Implications for Food Systems and Policy, https://www.agrilinks.org/users/wbhall#profile-main
  1. Vos, R. Martin, W. and Laborde,D. (March 2020), How much will global poverty increase because of COVID-19? IFPRI Blog : Issue Post, https://www.ifpri.org/blog/how-much-will-global-poverty-increase-because-covid-19
  2. Agrilinks Team (March 2020), Preventing Global Food Security Crisis under COVID-19, USAID.  https://www.agrilinks.org/post/preventing-global-food-security-crisis-under-covid-19-emergency

 

 

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Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Tourism Industry

Here are the main points:

  • The World Travel and Tourism Council has warned the COVID-19 pandemic could cut 50 million jobs worldwide in the travel and tourism industry.
  • Asia is expected to be the worst affected.
  • Once the outbreak is over, it could take up to 10 months for the industry to recover.
  • The tourism industry currently accounts for 10% of global GDP.

The coronavirus epidemic is putting up to 50 million jobs in the global travel and tourism sector at risk, with travel likely to slump by a quarter this year, Asia is the most affected continent, the World Travel and Tourism Council has said.

This impact would depend on how long the epidemic lasts and could still be exacerbated by recent restrictive measures, such as those taken by the U.S. administration on travel to Europe, WTTC’s managing director Virginia Messina told Reuters.

“Certain measures are not helping and they can prompt the economic impact to be way more significant,” Messina said referring to the U.S. decision.

She argued that such policies are too generic and not proven to be effective to contain the virus. She also said that such restrictions could complicate travel by medical experts and the delivery of medical supplies.

People wear protective masks, amid coronavirus fears, at Guarulhos International Airport in Guarulhos, Sao Paulo state, BraziI March 12, 2020. Picture taken March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso - RC2YIF91J9G8
Airlines have seen a sharp decrease in passengers.
Image: REUTERS/Rahel Patrasso

Around 850,000 people travel each month from Europe to the United States, equivalent to a $3.4 billion monthly contribution to the U.S. economy, Messina said.

Of the 50 million jobs that could be lost, around 30 million would be in Asia, seven million in Europe, five million in the Americas and the rest in other continents, she projected.

Empty chairs are seen on a beach which is usually full of tourists, amid fear of coronavirus in Phuket, Thailand March 11, 2020. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun - RC2NHF9SD709
An empty beach in Phuket, Thailand.
Image: REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

The equivalent to a loss of three months of global travel in 2020 could lead to a corresponding reduction in jobs of between 12% and 14%, the WTTC said, also calling on governments to remove or simplify visas wherever possible, cut travel taxes and introduce incentives once the epidemic is under control.

She also encouraged flexibility in the sector, so that travelers can postpone and not cancel their plans.

Coronavirus Covid-19 virus infection China Hubei Wuhan contagion spread travel trade health industry economics
It could take up to 10 months for the tourism industry to recover from the shock of coronavirus.
Image: WTTC

By sector, airlines and cruise ships were currently being more impacted than hotels, the official added.

The tourism industry accounts for 10% of the world’s GDP and jobs.

The WTTC official defended the confinement of certain towns – as is currently happening in Italy and Spain – if health officials recommend it to contain the outbreak, but only in specifically targeted areas or for certain age groups.

Messina estimated that, once the outbreak is under control, it would take up to 10 months for the tourism sector to return to its normal levels.

Source:

World Economic Forum

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