The level of urbanization in India has gone up from 23.34 percent in 1981 to 25.72 percent in 1991 which recorded an increase of 2.38 percent over the whole decade. This has recorded an annual increase of .24 percent only, whereas during the decade 1971-81 the average annual rate of in the level of urbanization was about .34 percent which was higher than recorded in 1981-91 decade. The pace of increase is demographically known as ‘tempo of urbanization’ which has considerably slowed down over the last ten years as the economic growth takes off the level of urbanization being at a low level.
A fall in the rural population growth rate is of fundamental importance for increasing the level of urbanization for the implied increase in the level of economic development. In the 15 major states, which accounts for 97 percent of the country’s urban population, there has been fast increase in the annual growth rate of the rural population during the last decade.
When compared to the rest of the world, the level of urbanization in India is very low. The world as a whole had a level of 45 percent in 1990, the highest level being 84-85 percent in Australia and New Zealand followed by 77 percent in Japan, between 72 to 75 percent in North America, South America, Latin America and Europe, 66 percent in Central America and former USSR, and 34 percent in Africa and Asia and even Pakistan had a urbanization level of 32 percent.
By definition, the Indian census treats those areas as urban which are either statutory town or which have got
- a) minimum population of 5000 persons coupled with
- b) three fourth of the male workforce being engaged in non-agricultural economic activities and
- c) a density of at least 400 per square kilometre.
Even those areas which are classified as rural administratively would be treated as rurban in census if they fulfill the above three criteria. Such urban areas are called “census towns”. In 1991, there were 1693 census towns out of a total of 4689 towns in the country.
Mandal , R.B “Urban Geography” pp 305-307.