The pace of urban growth and urban concentration has reached critical dimensions in case of most of the developing countries.

The persistently high rates of natural increase, rapid in-migration particularly from rural areas, and changes in rural society, all are simultaneously causing immense growth in urban population in these countries.

The continuously swelling size of the Third World cities and their visual impact on concentrated poverty has drawn the attention of national planners, policy makers and researchers alike.

Most of the national governments in the developing countries have started realizing their concentration of activities and population in few leading cities and resultant deterioration in living conditions in them as serious threat in achieving their stated development goals.


India is also suffering with top-heavy structure of its urban population. According to 2001 census, nearly 71 per cent of its urban population is concentrated in cities having a population of more than 1,000,000.

More than fifty per cent of the urban population is found in 23 metropolitan cities only. A large proportion of the population in most of these cities is found to be living in sub-human conditions.

The most glaring example of these sub-human living conditions is the development of large slum colonies in almost all the big cities of India. The situation is fast deteriorating in case of those cities where the growth of population has been very rapid.

The major cities in India trace their roots to the small settlements of the East India Company. Conditions such as famine and epidemics in the country side have created an unbalanced demographic profile throughout the history of urbanization.


In spite of several programmes, the cities continue to grow with a rapid increase in population. This is putting a tremendous pressure on the urban infrastructure and environment leading to pollution and scarcity of water, living space, health care facilities and food.

Mushrooming of slums is another major problem of Indian cities. The people living in slums are living in sub-human conditions but the economic opportunities attract them to the urban areas from the impoverished rural India. They have no qualms about the filth and squalor as long as they are getting food and are able to save some money.

The Indian urban system is not integrated both functionally and spatially as a consequence of which there are breaks and imbalances in urban hierarchy as well as in the rural-urban profile. The apex of the urban system in India is lopsided; the urban link through the market towns is weak.

The Indian towns are growing on the basis of tertiary sector rather than on the basis of secondary sector. However, the growth of district headquarters in the recent decades has built up an infrastructure of large-scale urbanization based on higher degree of economic development.


The multi-functionality of a large number of district headquarters of India is an index of the kind of decentralized urban development taking place in the country.

These district headquarters are becoming more and mo diversified in their functions. This is a healthy trend, particularly when industry is emerging as one of the vital functions in such district headquarters.

Western India is more urbanized than the eastern India and the Southern India is more urbanized than the Northern India. The explanation for the same lies greatly in the diversity of resource potential and the history of modern urbanization in different parts of India.

Himalayas in the North as well as in the North-East constitute the least urbanized part of India. The hilly state of Himachal Pradesh in Himalayas is the leas urbanized state in the country with only 9.79% of its people living in urban areas.


In fact, the entire Himalayan belt from Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura con tin to be the largest compact belt of extremely low degree of urbanization. The difficulties of the hilly regions in the development of means of transportation, limitations of physical resources etc. may explain limited urban development in this belt. However, the rich potential for revenue in the field of eco-tourism is helping these regions in urban development.