Does urbanisation lead to more segregation and/or marginalisation of the poor in Indian metropolises?


05:23 AM

The question Does urbanisation lead to more segregation and/or marginalisation of the poor in Indian metropolises?" was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 1.  Let us look at the model answer to this question. 

AnswerSegregation of populace in Indian cities, particularly metropolises, is a common phenomenon due to the spin-off effect of rapid urbanisation. The most common process of segregation is through the in-migration of poor into their community neighbourhoods and/or the out-migration of richer households into their communities. This segregation and consequently, marginalisation of the poor among urban population is due to many socio-economic and even political factors.

Urbanisation leading to segregation of the poor in India

Economic factor of segregation:

  • Challenges of livelihood: Urban centres particularly metropolitan cities attract rural poor in terms of job opportunity. But lack of skills often compelle them to work in informal sectors.
  • Informal sectors : Informal sectors do not offer a better work environment and job security. Thus, they are forced to do low income menial work like manual scavenging.
  • Urban poverty and inequality: According to the United Nations-Habitat's World Cities Report 2022, India's urban population is estimated to stand at 675 million in 2035. Report further highlighted the poverty and inequality measure challenge confronting Indian cities.

Social factors of segregation:

  • Ghettoised community: People of common religion or region often forms community within urban sphere.
  • Residential segregation: India has a population of 65.49 million people living in 13.7 million slum households across the country. Nearly 65 percent of Indian cities have adjoining slums where people live in small houses adjacent to each other.

Political factors of segregation of urban sphere:

  • Dominating migrated groups in certain pockets often try to establish political identity in the urban sphere. Over the time segregated groups emerge as a vote bank and reaffirm their political inclination towards particular political parties.

Urbanisation leading to marginalisation of the poor in India

  • Unplanned urban space: Cities in India often lack infrastructure and support systems to cater the influx of rural people. Such conditions lead to Informal settlements on the edge of urban jurisdictions are vulnerable to eviction due to unclear regulatory frameworks, as was demonstrated by a recent large-scale eviction.
  • Overcrowded urban space: A survey conducted in Delhi under the 69th National Service Scheme round (2012) revealed that the capital had approximately 6,343 slums with more than a million households where 52 per cent of its total population resided.
  • Lack of basic amenities: Delhi is the sixth-largest metropolis in the world. And yet, a third of its residences are part of the slums with no basic resources like clean drinking water, hygiene etc.

How to make urban spaces an inclusive place

  • Inclusive and equitable urban space: Tackling urban poverty and inequality is one of the key priorities for building inclusive and equitable urban futures. Rajasthan Gig Workers (Registration and Welfare) Act, 2023 to provide institutionalised support to gig and platform workers.
  • Planned urban space: Built back differently to cater the need of transportation system, infrastructure, affordable housing to low income group people and interest subvention for housing facilities.
  • Social safety net: Social protection measures on the line of MGNREGA in urban areas to employment guarantee.
  • Skill development program and regulatory measures: Targeted skills development program to slum dwellers and low income group poor with strong monitoring mechanism.
  • Participatory urban governance: Marginalised section constitutes a major chunk of urban population therefore their voice must be included in 

Hence policy makers should focus on reducing dichotomy prevailing in urban cities between the rich and the poor and promote equitable, inclusive and sustainable growth of urban space that provides dignity and a decent quality of life to all residents.