Urbanization in India

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Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSLS2HS1024

Semester and Year Offered: Monsoon

Course Coordinator and Team: Dr.Shailaja Menon

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: None

Aim: India has a history of urbanisation since ancient times. The most well known examples are of the city-settlements of Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro which date back to the Indus Valley civilisation. Archaeological evidence reveals the high level of urban planning that existed in the cities of the Indus Valley. The settlements had clearly demarcated public and private areas, streets laid out in grids, as well as an extensive and sophisticated system of drainage and waste removal. These are arguably the earliest “planned” urban settlements in the world.

Cities and urban areas have since set the foundation of modern civilisation – they have proved to be the engines of economic growth, and the centres of innovation, culture, knowledge and political power. Cities are known to be places where money, services and wealth are centralized. Cities are where fortunes are made and where social mobility is possible. Businesses, which generate jobs and capital, are usually located in urban areas. Whether the source is trade or tourism, it is also through the cities that foreign money flows into a country. Due to their high populations, urban areas can also have much more diverse social communities allowing others to find people like them when they might not be able to in rural areas.

In the next 20-25 years, India’s urbanization level is expected to rise from the present 30% to 40- 50%, with over 60 cities of 1 million plus population contributing about 70% of India’s GDP. Yet, India’s growing cities and towns face major challenges in creating adequate infrastructure in the sectors of transportation, water, solid waste, and power.

The process of urbanization entails tremendous pressure on the scarce natural resources leading to violent conflicts and environmental degradation. Sustainable urbanisation is a process by which urban settlements contribute to environmental sustainability in the long term. Such urbanisation would require conservation of non-renewable resources, mass-scale deployment of renewable resources, and a reduction in the energy-use and waste-production per unit of output/consumption. Moreover, the pattern of urban growth should facilitate a fair distribution of resources, both within the present generation and between present and future generations. Finally, we need to be aware at all times that environmentally sustainable cities must also be vibrant economic and social agglomerations – environmental sustainability is meaningless in an economic/social wasteland.

Course Outcomes: On successful completion of the course, it will:

  1. Enable students to critically engage with the concept of Urbanization through both texts and audio-visual media
  2. Help to connect with the contemporary issues of development, exclusion, violence etc
  3. Help students to develop their thinking, writing and articulation abilities, through the use of written assignments and oral presentations.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

  1. Methodology-{Socio-Cultural, Political, Economic and Geographical Aspects}
  2. Structural Overview-{Settlements and Spatiality, Pre-Industrial and Industrial Cities, Pre-Colonial and Colonial Forms, The Transformation from Shahjahanabad to New Delhi as an illustration}
  3. Habitats and Violence-{Rural-Urban Fringe, Governance Policies, Migration Patterns, Provisioning of Resources}
  4. Globalization and Emergence of New Models of Habitats-Areotropolis

Assessment Details with weights:

  • 30% take home written assignment 2) 20% class presentations 3) 10% class participation 4) 40% end semester exam.

Reading List:

  • Indu Banga, The City in Indian History: Urban Demography, Society and Politics, (ed), Manohar 1994
  • Mariam Dossal, Imperial Designs and Indian Realities: The Planning of Bombay City 1845-1875, OUP, 1996
  • Sujata Patel and Alice Thorner, Bombay: Metaphor for Modern India, (ed) OUP, 2003
  • Ashutosh Varshney Ethnic Conflict in India, Sage, 2002
  • Anthony King, Colonial Urban Development: Culture, Social Power and Government, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1976
  • Anthony King ‘Conceptualizations about Colonial Cities’, Colonial Cities: Essays on Urbanism in a Colonial Context, Leidan, 1985
  • SARAI Readers
  • The Public Domain
  • The Cities of Everyday Life
  • Lewis Mumford, The City in History, Penguin, 1976
  • V.T.Oldenburg The Making of Colonial Lucknow, Princeton University Press, 1984
  • Narayani Gupta, Delhi Between Two Empires, 1803-1931: Society, Government and Urban Growth, OUP, 1981
  • Gillian, Ahmedabad: A Study in Indian Urban History, CUP
  • Amitabh Kundu and Darshini Mahadevia (ed) Poverty and Vulnerability in a Globalizing Metropolis: Ahmedabad, Manak Publications
  • Ghanshyam Shah et al (ed), Development and Deprivation in Gujarat, Essays in Honour of Jan Breman, Sage, 2002
  • Mariam Dossal, Theatre of Conflict: City of Hope, Bombay/Mumbai 1660 to Present Times, OUP, 2010
  • Kushal Deb and Sujata Patel (ed) Urban Sociology, OUP, 2006
  • Smriti Srinivas, Landscapes of the Urban Memory: The Sacred and the Civic in India’s High-Tech City, University of Minnesota Press, 2001.

ADDITIONAL REFERENCE: Chapters from Books and articles, both soft and hard copies will be provided in class apart from audio-visual material.