ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Amitabh KunduSubscribe to Amitabh Kundu

Disastrous Decade for Data

In recent years, the Indian official data has been challenged for many reasons, most of them arising out of the perception that the government is reluctant to release unfavourable data. These doubts have been exacerbated by the controversy posed by the debate around Citizenship (Amendment) Act, National Population Register, and National Register of Citizens and the weakening of established institutions like the National Statistical Commission. The COVID-19 pandemic has further upset the data collection so that the first phase of the decennial population census and the proposed NPR exercise now stand postponed. Questions on credibility of official data and the pandemic-induced problems have come at a time when technology offers solutions to data collection, processing and dissemination. The initiatives launched by the government to improve the statistical system utilise these possibilities.

Citizenship (Amendment) Act

The recently enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act has generated a political churn in the country. Tagging the updating of the National Population Register, a base document to identify “citizens,” to the forthcoming 2021 population and housing census has raised strong objections from several corners, including some state governments, necessitating the home minister to make a statement in Parliament on 14 March 2020. Linking the census and theNPR raises many questions—technical and operational. It is important to go beyond politics to address these concerns.

Atal Pension Yojana

The Atal Pension Yojana—an old-age pension scheme for informal sector workers—is a major initiative to ensure fixed monthly pension for the elderly. This is guaranteed by the government through the provisioning of assured rates of interest during the accumulation and distribution period. An analysis of the benefit patterns and recommendations to make the scheme more attractive for the informal sector workers is presented.

Housing for the Urban Poor?

Recent modifications in the credit linked subsidy scheme—an important vertical under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban)—have raised the income limits for eligibility of loans, increased the amount of subsidised loans, relaxed norms with regard to built-up area, and importantly, have included the middle-income group, diluting its core agenda of being “pro-poor.” While this would boost the housing sector, there is risk that subsidies will be cornered by real estate developers, private builders, and the urban middle class. The planners must view this development with concern.

Making Indian Cities Slum-Free

The plan of making urban India slum-free faced serious diffi culties in the Eleventh Plan period and it looks like these will persist in the Twelfth Plan period as well. This article points out that the schemes in operation lack a reliable framework for identifying non-tenable slums and legitimate slum households that are entitled to get dwelling units. Further, the design of the Rajiv Awas Yojana betrays a big-city bias to attract global capital, and there is no clear road map for its time-bound implementation.

Migration and Exclusionary Urbanisation in India

An analysis of migration and urbanisation patterns in recent decades suggests a distinctly declining trend. It can be argued that the migration process has an inbuilt screening system, which is picking up people from relatively higher economic and social strata. The decline in the share of migrants moving in search of employment and an increase in business and study-related mobility further confirms this proposition. In contrast, poverty-induced migration has become a less important component of mobility over time. At the same time, in a bid to attract private capital, urban centres have become less accommodating to the poor, restricting their entry and thereby increasing rural-urban economic inequalities. The strategy of spatially unbalanced growth through "dispersal of concentrations" advocated by the World Bank and others, therefore, needs to be examined with empirical rigour.

Method in Madness: Urban Data from 2011 Census

The 2011 Census has reported a marginally higher growth in the urban population, yet it also reports a phenomenal increase of 2,774 new "census towns" - greater than the number of such new towns identified in all of the 20th century. Could this be the result of some kind of census activism working under pressure to report a higher pace of urbanisation? Since the Census of India has a reputation for rigour, it is imperative that the methodology for identification of new towns and possible changes from the past are made public.

Politics and Economics of Urban Growth

Contrary to popular perceptions about a rapid pace of urbanisation, the fragmentary data in the provisional results of the 2011 Census reveal a decline in demographic growth in districts within the metro cities, suggesting that these have become less welcoming to prospective migrants. Such low and even negative population growth in large cities and their core areas needs further investigation, since it raises concerns about exclusionary urbanisation.

Exclusionary Urbanisation in Asia: A Macro Overview

Studies on internal migration are constrained by the fact that no international organisation systematically collects or tabulates even the basic demographic information on internal migration in a cross-sectionally and temporally comparable manner. Researchers have surprisingly concluded that internal migration within Asian countries is high and increasing over time. This alarmist perspective could be attributed to the projection of urban population made by the Population Division of the United Nations and other national and international agencies. This has guided governments of several countries, leading to measures to control inflow of people for security concerns or to reduce pressure on limited amenities in the destination regions. In this context, the paper examines the proposition that rural-urban migration has accelerated over the recent decades in the Asian countries, particularly during the 1990s, incorporating the history, social fabric and political environment in the explanatory framework.

Migration, Employment Status and Poverty

This paper analyses the pattern of migration in urban areas and its socio-economic correlates. The analysis is based on the National Sample Survey's reports of employment and unemployment pertaining to the latest rounds, which provide information on migration. Economic deprivation is not the most critical factor for migration decisions, even for seasonal migrants. People migrate out of both poor and rich households, although the reasons for migration and the nature of jobs sought by them are different. Rural-urban migrants have a greater risk of being below the poverty line than the urban-urban migrants, but both report a lower risk than non-migrants. The probability of a person being poor is low in a large city compared to any other urban centre, irrespective of the migration status, age, number of subsidiary activities undertaken, etc. The results indicate that migration has been a definite instrument of improving economic well-being and escaping from poverty. The probability of being poor is much less among the migrants compared to the local population, in all size classes of urban centres.

Issue of Urban Exclusion

This article examines the rationale for excluding urban areas from the scope of guaranteed employment, given socio-economic deprivation and vulnerability in small and medium towns. The lack of employment has affected their demographic growth, leading to distortions in the urban hierarchy. The possibility of utilising the educated unemployed in non-manual work is explored.

Politics and Economics of Land Policies

By committing itself to improving environmental conditions in the core region of the national capital, the new master plan for Delhi makes no significant departure from its predecessors. But the strategy for a balanced regional development, a relocation of industrial units to the peripheries, which appeared as a window-dressing in the first two master plans, has been entirely given the go-by.

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