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The Rural-Urban Divide in India

The Rural-Urban Divide in India



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Published by A Masand
The causes and policy implications of uneven resource allocation between rural and urban India
The causes and policy implications of uneven resource allocation between rural and urban India

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Published by: A Masand on Nov 10, 2008
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The Rural-Urban Divide
Cities take up less than two percent of the Earth’s land surface, but are home to almost half of theworld’s population and utilize seventy-five percent of the Earth’s resources. In 1998 47 percent of the world’s population lived in cities as opposed to 29 percent in 1950. Globalization is leading to increased urbanization. According to the World Bank urban areas in developing countries account for an estimated 60 - 80 percent of GDP. Urban populations mainly have greater access to water and sanitation services, but an estimated quarter to a half of those populations live in slums or squatter settlements. People living under those overcrowded and impoverished conditions increases the likelihood of epidemics like tuberculosis, diarrhea and other contagiousdiseases (Harrison 2000).
After China, India is the second most populous country, it is home to 16.34% of the world's populationand has a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 2.5 trillion (CIA.gov 2002). And an estimated sixty percent of theGDP is attributable to the urban sector. India has an income per capita of $404. This is low as the globalaverage of income per capita is $3535. Similarly, thirty-five percent of its population lives below the dollar-a-day poverty line (Mathews 2001) By the end of 2002 India’s debt to GDP ratio was around 65%. This is incomparison to 140% for Japan, Argentina at 133%, Egypt and Turkey at 99%. India also has a fiscal deficit thatis among the highest in the world but it also has one of the highest growth rates. As a developing economy witha growth rate of 6% India can afford to have a high deficit. Similar to the development of European countries,which during their growth stage ran high deficits. India is witness to massive migration. During the Partitionmore than fifty percent of the refugees from Pakistan settled in urban areas in India (Mathews 2001). India has
 2a population of 1,045,845,226 and it is projected to have a population of 1.5 billion by the year 2050 (SeeChart
).The size of India is slightly more than one-third the size of the United States yet it is home to over three timesas many people as the United States (CIA.gov 2002). As India is a developing country its urban areas are full, beyond capacity. In contrast, urban areas in United States have seen a reversal as people - due to crime in urbanareas - have relocated to the suburbs. In India despite all the issues that are prevalent in urban areas city life isstill better than life in a village (Mathews 2001).Rural to urban migration is a contributing factor to the growth of the urban populations. As in the caseof the city of Bombay (within the state of Maharashtra), which during Partition witnessed a lot of in-migration.An estimated fifteen million people flowed into and resettled into the urban areas of India. It has had continued
Chart can be found online at <www.iiasa.ac.at/Research/LUC/Papers/gkh1/images/pop_1.gif>
 3in-migration from rural areas as well (Mathews 2001). Demographically, Bombay has one of the highest population densities in the world. It houses 160,000 people per square mile. As evident it is a highly, urbancity. In addition it is also the financial powerhouse of India. It is home to the country's richest people as well asthe biggest population of slum dwellers in the Asia (McNeil 1995). As evident in India there is a contradictionwith increasing growth rates and increasing poverty. Although population is a contributing factor the cause of  poverty is the uneven distribution of resources by the state namely the rural-urban divide in resource allocation.
The Rural-Urban Divide.
Today 74.7 percent of the population lives in rural areas and 24.3 percent inhabit urban areas. In urbanareas there is a heavy concentration of telephones, televisions and doctors. As 70 percent of the country’s population mainly in rural areas lack access to primary health care the worst affected is the elderly, youngwomen and children. Major environmental issues in rural areas are deforestation, soil erosion, overgrazing,desertification, and water pollution from runoff of agricultural pesticides. In urban areas there are issues of water pollution from sewage and air pollution from industrial effluents and vehicle emissions. India is also prone to natural disasters such as droughts, flash floods, severe thunderstorms and earthquakes (Mathews 2001).Although India boasts more than 200 universities mainly in urban areas and has one of the largesteducational systems it has failed to wipe out illiteracy. For those that are educated there are no jobs as morethan 40 million people are unemployed. India has the largest share of illiterate women in the world. The poor educational status of the girl-child increases the fertility rate, maternal and infant mortality, and malnutrition inthe family. Rights of women to land and property are rarely recognized. This increases the risk of poverty towomen and their families and increases poverty overall as women and children makeup two-thirds of the population. (Mathews 2001)One of the major factors affecting fertility rates in India is the illiteracy of women. India has a totalfertility rate of 2.98 children born per woman. The literacy rate (defined as those age 15 and over that can readand write) is 65.5% for males and 37.7% for females. The infant mortality rate is 61.47 deaths per 1000 live

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