(ii) Density of population of 900 persons (or more) per square km.
(iii) Minimum 75% of the male population engaged in non- agricultural activities; and
(iv) Presence of a local authority like a municipality or a cantonment board.
According to Louis Wirth, an American sociologist, urbanisation is a way of life. The sociologically significant elements of urbanisation, which mark it as a distinctive mode of human group life, include social mobility, higher standard of living, greater employment opportunities, specialisation and differentiation of labour, heterogeneity and anonymity. Therefore, Wirth suggested that an urban population is characteristically large, dense and heterogeneous.
Sorokin and Zimmermann, in ‘Principles of Rural-Urban Sociology’, draw a distinction between rural and urban communities based on occupational pursuits. Rural communities are primarily agrarian, with its people essentially involved in cultivation of plants and rearing of animals. Urban population, on the other hand, is engaged in varied occupational and industrial pursuits.
Warren S. Thompson states that urbanisation is characterised by a movement of people from small communities concerned chiefly or solely with agriculture to other, larger communities, whose activities are centered in trade, manufacture or allied pursuits.
According to Nels Anderson, urbanisation is a two-way process. It involves not only movement from villages to cities and change from agricultural occupation to business, trade, service and profession, but it also denotes a change in the migrants’ attitudes, beliefs, values and behaviour patterns.
The transition from a rural to urban community is a continuous though gradual process. As remarked by Robert Morrison MacIver, “there is no sharp demarcation to tell where the city ends and the country begins”.
The merits of urbanisation include specialisation and division of labour, social mobility, social heterogeneity and economic opportunities. On the other hand, its drawbacks include transiency and superficiality, anonymity and economic disparity. Urbanisation in India
The provisional 2011 India Census figures show that more and more people – especially in the southern states – are moving to towns and cities. It is estimated that, today, 32% of the Indian population, that is, almost one out of three Indians lives in an urban area.
There is yet another angle to the rise of urbanisation in the latest official figures. The number of towns shown in the census has more than doubled from the previous figures. This number has gone up from 1,362 to 3,894. However, many of these “towns” have almost no urban facilities; they merely satisfy the census definition of a “town”. This could perhaps explain the big jump of urbanisation in Kerala from 26% in 2001 to 47.7% in 2011. This tempo of urbanisation is, however, not uniform throughout the country. What seems to be a matter for worry is that, in states like Bihar, the corresponding rate is only 10%.
The Isher Ahluwalia Report on Urban India identified eight areas where the country needs to focus in the matter of urbanisation, namely:
i. Water supply
iii. Waste management
iv. Storm water drains
v. Urban roads
vi. Urban transport
vii. Street lighting
viii. Traffic support infrastructure.
According to the Center for Study of Developing Societies, in the next ten years, 50% of India’s population will be living in towns and cities. The McKinsey Report, echoing a similar prediction, states that there will be 590 million city-dwellers in India in the next twenty years. But is the country ready for this big jump? The common feeling is in the negative. Unfortunately, India still lacks a comprehensive policy for sustainable urban development.