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Urbanization in India UPSC NOTE

 How urbanization in India, particularly with the example of Kolkata, 

has led to socio-economic bypassing

  • Urbanisation in India is shaped by three important factors.

  • First, colonialism played a catalytic role in creating urban spaces.

  • This continued even after Independence until the 1960s

  • Second and third, the Green Revolution and neoliberalisation in the 1970s and 1990s have consolidated these urban spaces into concrete enclaves

  • Metropolitan cities such as Chennai, Mumbai, and Kolkata, which are products of colonial urbanism, metamorphosed radically in later years.

  • These cities have expanded quite substantially and witnessed rapid urbanisation to accommodate more people and their demands.

  • The wealth generated due to the Green Revolution and neoliberal policies has further accelerated urban expansion.

  • Albeit in an unequal manner. 

  • Newer forms of consumer culture have seeped effortlessly into these urban spaces.

  • Thus bringing revolutionary changes in the housing, health, and education sectors.

  • With reference to Calcutta, in the initial years of Independence, the city was called entangled, congested, and decaying by the then State government. 

  • A political decision was initiated to build Salt Lake City, a city within Calcutta city, eventually envisioned as a supposedly clean Tabularasa city

  • The entanglements in the existing city, notably pertain to its poor infrastructure facilities, such as water, sanitation, and slums, with poverty, traffic, and, with oblivious governance, and minimal accountability for public city spaces.

  • In the process of expanding the city, the State further developed by building the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass (EM Bypass) in the 1980s, connecting Kolkata’s north-east part with its southern part

  • The construction of the MAA flyover and EM Bypass roads certainly eased or ‘bypassed’ the congestion, poverty, and, of course, the free flow of traffic

  • The infrastructural developments around the road yielded enormous benefits by significantly increasing the flow of goods, people, and ideas too. 

  • But they also resulted in a host of other problems. 

  • The economist, the late Kalyan Sanyal, along with Rajesh Bhattacharya from the Indian Institute of Management Calcutta.

  • This made the brilliant observation that approaching urbanisation through the ‘bypass route’ was to replace the old with a new class of producers and consumers. 


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