Urbanisation and Informal Sector (Mint)
Mains Paper 1: Society
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Informal sector urbanisation
- Growth that is currently taking place is accompanied by
informalisation, e.g., sub-contracting in the production process and various
other mechanisms that tend to leave labour with less bargaining power. The
informalisation process is feared to involve substantial welfare losses and
deterioration in terms of governance.
- However, in the face of inadequate livelihood opportunities in the
rural areas, even the urban informal sector, which is grossly characterized
by low productivity, tends to attract migration.
- This in turn has serious challenges in terms of urbanisation. Though
in the Indian context rural-urban migration rates are moderate,
rural-to-large city population-flow has always been alarming. Thus, city
growth, informal sector employment, and low living standards including slum
inhabitation involve considerable overlaps.
Migration and Opportunities:
- Higher rural literacy and improvements in educational level may raise
the rural-to-urban migration rate. The presence of disadvantaged social
categories in the rural areas also has motivated migration rate, supporting
the view that they migrate to escape their vulnerability.
- Migration reduces both rural and urban poverty. In other words, rural
poor by shifting to the urban location are able to access better livelihood
opportunities and thus, poverty declines.
- The urban informal sector, notwithstanding the manifestation of low
productivity activities, appears to be better in comparison to the rural job
- Higher urbanisation and work participation rate in both rural and
urban areas are positively associated with migration, suggesting that those
in the labour market are more likely to migrate, and after migration they
are expected to continue in jobs rather than moving outside the labour
- Migration, urban informal sector employment, and the incidence of
population in the urban and rural areas are all positively connected with
each other, suggesting that such groups are more likely migrate and land up
in the urban informal sector.
- Though there is no definite relationship between the size of the
informal sector and the extent of urbanisation, the role of the urban
informal sector in providing sources of livelihood cannot be undermined. In
fact, with rapid urbanisation the rural transformation is faster as the
positive spillover effects initiate new activities and opportunities.
- The other new challenge for urban India can be envisaged in terms of
the emergence of the census towns. The constituents of urban areas are
statutory towns, census towns, and outgrowths.
- The major distinction between statutory and census towns are as
follows: All places with a
municipality, corporation cantonment board, or notified town area committee
constitute statutory towns.
- On the other hand, the census towns are defined on the basis of the
following criteria: a) A minimum population of 5000; b) At least 75 per cent
of the male workers are engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and c) A
density of population of at least 4000 per square Km.
- The results from 2011 census show a huge number of census towns which
emerged in the last ten years (2001-2011).
What can explain such faster growth of census towns?
- If we analyse the locational aspect of these town we can say that they
are mostly situated in the neighbourhood of very large cities; these towns
may be treated as the satellite towns growing in response to the spur of
- The number of statutory towns of all sizes is rather positively
associated with the number of census towns implying that urbanisation as a
whole seems to be expanding from the spill-over of the existing urban
localities into the hinterland.
Are these census towns well equipped to assure a reasonable quality of life?
- The residential and infrastructural facilities in these towns are
inadequate to keep pace with the new activities that are spilling over as a
result of saturation of the large urban centres.
- The new towns do not have enough living space to accommodate the migrant
- As migration is usually more than the actual number of job vacancies it
would mean that the surplus labour would get residually absorbed in low
- Though the very large cities also have had the similar problems, there
have been several support mechanisms at the same time. Besides, the real
earnings in the informal sector have been higher in the large cities than in
- The capacity of the small towns to provide for the population is highly
limited even after discounting for the scale factor that the large cities
enjoy. There are problems relating to generation of resources required for
Why Spill-over growth is bad?
- If such new towns grow purely in response to the dynamics of agriculture
growth and the subsequent demand for trading or other non-agriculture
activities, the outcomes are desirable.
- The urbanisation spill-effect which ushers in a major change in land use
patterns may pose threat not only in terms of food security in short run but
also sustainable livelihood for those who lose their agricultural land.
- The mismatch between the demand for and the supply of labour can be
serious in these towns
keeping in view the employability issue.
- Trade-offs to certain extent between growth and agricultural land are
inevitable here. However, sufficient safety nets need to be created to meet
the deficiencies and the new challenges.
- Once the largest cities exhaust the economic opportunities the second
rank cities come up to replace them in terms of investment, growth, and
- However, for them to take over the lead role, a proper coordination
between the state and those who have a thorough understanding of the growth
dynamics of the urban space is essential
- in the Indian context, a clear-cut initiative for urban investment or
planning is yet to emerge on the basis of the growth potential of different
cities and towns with an economic-cum-geographic perspective.
Q.1) With reference to the taxation of NRIs, consider the following
1. The Finance Bill, 2020 has proposed that an Indian citizen shall be
deemed to be resident in India if he or she is not liable to be taxed in any
country or jurisdiction.
2. The new provision in Finance Bill, 2020 is intended to include in tax net
those Indian citizens who are bonafide workers in other countries.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
Q.1) What can explain such faster growth of census towns? Are these census towns
well equipped to assure a reasonable quality of life?