forum

An Introduction to the Forum on the State of the Cities: India Report (SOCR)

By Bharat Punjabi (University of Toronto) | Om Mathur and his colleagues have done us a great service by publishing the State of the Cities: India Report (SOCR) where they have developed a grounded empirical framework to answer some of the most interesting puzzles around India`s urbanization in the last three decades. The SOCR has answered questions that have been around for some time but had to wait for the authors’ deft combination of experience in the Indian urban policy context, their knowledge of census data sources and the depth of understanding of India’s urban trajectory to provide us with insightful answers to some very interesting but complicated questions on India’s urban system. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

State of the Cities: India Report

By Om Prakash Mathur (University of Toronto) | The State of the Cities: India Report (SOCR) has come in at a time when the world is close to 55 percent urban and is projected to be 68 percent by the 2050 year. This transition, observed across the developing and developed world, is accompanied by an extraordinarily important shift in the world’s vision and perspective on the phenomenon of urbanization. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

How Is India Urban?

By Jan Nijman (Georgia State University & University of Amsterdam) | Let me start by congratulating Om Mathur and his team on the launch of this very useful report, State of the Cities, India. It provides a comprehensive overview that synthesizes, analyzes, and debates pertinent data from a wide range of sources. One of the strengths of the report is its reach across the urban continuum, from megacities to the rural-urban transition, and as such it offers an even-handed reading of India’s urban world. It also dedicates considerable attention to the relationships between urbanization and economic development, a matter of vital interest to India’s future. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

Urban Governance and Municipal Finance in India

By Richard Bird (Professor Emeritus of Economics, University of Toronto) | This study provides a valuable look at urbanization in India and the major challenges currently facing the country. It does an excellent job of setting the stage and makes a plausible case for its vision of future developments. However, although this issue may be pursued in a subsequent study, it says nothing about how local governance and finance may, can or should be altered to do better for more people in the future. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

Are Indian Cities Urban?

By Partha Mukhopadhyay (Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi) | As Professor Mathur indicates, we really do not have a good sense of what is urban in India. In part this is because it is extremely hard to be formally urban in India because one has to jump through three hoops, viz. density, size and then finally occupational structure. This is in contrast to China where the definition of an urban area is administrative and includes what may charitably be called a significant part of the urban periphery. Curiously, when attempting a like to like comparison using 2001 data Uchida and Nelson (2008) found that while Indian urbanization increased from 28% to 43% or even 52%, Chinese urbanisation did not budge from the then official figure of 36%. Of course much has changed from that time, but the broad question that professor Mathur poses remains relevant. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

From the State of the Cities to the Future of the Cities

By Yue Zhang (University of Illinois at Chicago) | It is exciting to see the publication of the State of the Cities: India, an excellent and timely report compiled by Om Mathur and his team on India’s urbanization. Based primarily on the Indian Census and other sources, the report provides an in-depth analysis of India’s demographics, economy, and infrastructure in the urban transformation. One of the major contributions of the report is that it questions the meaning of “the urban” and demonstrates the complexity in the measures of urbanization. From large cities to urban peripheries to census towns, the different forms of spatiality have different logics of growth and present different answers to the central question: How urban is India?  Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

Urbanism and Citizenship Rights in India

By Shahana Chattaraj (World Resources Institute, India) | Our understanding of Indian urbanization is as amorphous as the sprawling megacities, mofussil towns and quasi-urban rural settlements that constitute it. Characterised simultaneously as too fast and too slow, as ‘messy’ yet dynamic, ‘hidden’ yet self-evident, urbanization in India is assumed to be transformative yet found to be insufficiently so.  What’s actually going on here? Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments

Some Reflections on State of the Cities: India

By Om Prakash Mathur (University of Toronto) | This essay is meant to sum up and bring the forum on the State of the Cities: India Report (SOCR) to a close. The previous essays have introduced the SOCR and complemented it with observations and perspectives of a distinguished panel of international experts, made initially at a webinar held under the auspices of the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy (University of Toronto) and subsequently scripted for the Urban Affairs Forum. The panel’s engagement with the SOCR - its scope, the data base, approach, methodology, and outputs, as readers would have noted - is encyclopedic, insightful, and strategic. The thematic span of panelists observations is extraordinarily wide. The panel has used fresh analytical instruments, offered alternative hypotheses, and raised a string of new questions, often buttressed by the panel’s own research, for addressing many of the issues contained in the SOCR. In some ways, the panel’s urban narrative complements the SOCR; it simultaneously reopens the discourse on India’s urbanization and resets the urban research agenda. Read More

March 15, 2022 // 7 Comments