As per the 2011 Census, there are 6,40,930 villages in India, of which around 6,00,000 can be regarded as inhabited.
Census’s definition of urban area:
- If a settlement is under a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or a notified town area committee, it becomes a statutory town and is hence urban.
- Another definition of urban is linked to demographic characteristics: If in a population size of 5,000, 75 per cent of the male working population is engaged in non-agricultural pursuits and the population density exceeds 400 people per sq km, this becomes a Census town, regardless of whether it is a statutory town or not.
- This reclassification — a deviation from the traditional notions of urbanisation, which we link to the natural rate of growth in urban areas or rural-urban migration — also results in urbanisation.
- In fact, between 2001 and 2011, a large chunk of increased urbanisation was because of Census towns and not statutory ones.
Urban outgrowth and village:
- When a village (or hamlet) is physically contiguous to a town and possesses urban features; it is then treated as an urban agglomeration.
- Therefore, anything other than a statutory town, Census town or urban agglomeration is a village.
- In that sense, the village is residual, regardless of its population size.
- The population can be 10,000 people or it can also be 100 people. ‘
National Capital Territory villages:
- Only 222 villages according to 2011 census in the (National Capital Territory)
- There is a process for transition to the “urban”, but that hasn’t yet occurred for these 222 villages.
- There is a notification, land is acquired by the DDA and during the transition from a panchayat to municipality, there is understandable speculation on the land.
- You can thus find one side of a road that is “urban” and an opposite side still “rural”, like the area near Masoodpur village.
- At one level, there is a governance issue.
- Use of the word “village” too loosely, across a very heterogeneous category.
- For Census purposes, we have in mind a revenue village but there may be many clusters of habitations/hamlets within the same revenue village.
- Inside forest areas, there may be non-surveyed villages. Just as we have habitations as sub-categories of villages, we have gram panchayats as categories higher than villages. Therefore, we have something like 2,50,000 gram panchayats.
- Delivering public goods and services in a village with a population size of 10,000, where there is a gram panchayat, is relatively easy.
- Delivering it in a village with a population size less than 200 is much more difficult.
- Delivering it in every habitation within the village is even more difficult.
- I forgot to mention that some villages with small population sizes are in difficult geographical terrain.
- How has this changed? The only decent answer we have seems to be from the ICE (income and consumption expenditure) 2014, undertaken by PRICE (People Research of India’s Consumer Economy).
- This tells us an expected story of greater integration of larger (population sizes more than 5,000) villages with the mainstream, primarily because of better transport connectivity.
- The radius of development, so to speak, is getting larger, but there are still the smaller villages.