Urban Policy & City Planning is an online one-month online immersive certificate training course organized by the Center for Habitat, Urban and Regional Studies at Impact and Policy Research Institute, IMPRI, New Delhi in July 2023. An informative panel discussion on the topic “Inclusive Urbanization in India” was held on July 19, 2023, by Prof Debolina Kundu, Professor, National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA), New Delhi.
The session was set about with welcoming remarks by the chair of the session, Dr Rumi Aijaz. He explained how several other categories excluding migration exist in case of cities and their development. He also talked about informal and peri-urban areas which face issues which are not widely addressed. Moreover, women of these areas face exclusion. Another category which was included was the differently abled people who obviously have special needs. All in all, he said that even though urbanization is occurring at a fast pace, not everybody is being taken together. It can be called an inequitable kind of urbanization, which needs to be corrected soon.
Prof Debolina Kundu then took over and started her presentation by giving a brief outline about her talk. She said that she would talk about:
- Context setting: State of Urbanization
- Status of Children, Adolescents, Divyangs and Women
- Status of Urban Poor and Slums
- Policy and Recommendations
Starting off she talked about a New Urban Agenda which says “Leave No One Behind”
UN-HABITAT. This would be achieved by ending poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including the eradication of extreme poverty, by ensuring equal rights and opportunities, socioeconomic, cultural diversity, and integration in urban space, by enhancing livability, education, food security and nutrition, health and well-being, by promoting safety and eliminating discrimination and all forms of violence, by ensuring public participation providing safe and equal access for all, and by providing equal access for all to physical and social infrastructure and basic services and adequate and affordable housing.
Sabka Sath Sabka Vikas
Sabka Vishwas Sabka Prayas
She also touched upon India’s Accelerating Urban Growth Trajectory. She said how we are doing better in this decade as compared to the past decade in terms of urban population. While going through the statistics she explained how there are different levels of urbanization, and the economy sees some amount of hidden urbanization as well.
Migration and Urbanization
Moving on she also talked about how the talk about rural-urban migration is a mere myth. While she presented relevant data about the same, she presented relevant arguments. Until 2011, rural-rural migration had more than 50% share of total internal migration in the country.
Since 1981, the share of rural-urban migration to total internal migration remained low and stagnant. This is because large urban centers have become exclusionary to poor rural migrants. Between 2001 and 2011, the share of urban-urban migrants to total internal migrants increased sharply, indicating a selective migration process. Natural increase was a prominent component of urban growth in India but over time the share has declined with a corresponding increase in Net Reclassification from Rural to Urban including jurisdictional changes and outgrowths.
Moving on she discussed how India is seeing a higher urban footprint owing to development and urbanization. She focused on the term Peripheralization. She then said that the share of population is increasing outside municipal boundaries in both metros and non-metros. 11 metropolitan cities (out of 52) have within their municipal limits less than 50 per cent of the total city population. Availability of basic services declines with distance from the core city. This would in turn affect the demography of the country. Throwing light upon the same she explained the expected demographic dividend from 2030-40.
Inclusive of Children
Adding on she talked about the children in Urban India.
- 377 million Urban Population (31%)
- 135.5 million children (36%) in 0-18 age group
- 65.4 million (17.4%) people in Slums
- 36.5 million children (9.7%) in 0-5-years age group
- 26.36 million (6.99%) children in 6–9-year age group
- 23.4 million children (0-18 age group) in Slums
- 72.5 million (19.23%) adolescents in 10–19-year age-group
She then talked about the issues of concern for inclusion for children. Under-5 mortality rate is twice the SDG target of 25 per 1,000 live births. Additionally, every fifth child born in urban poor households reports low birth weight. Around 12% of children (6-17 years) do not attend school – 3/4th poor. 2 in every 100 children (6-17 years) are working. 3 in every 4 working children are poor. Crime rate against children increased from 6 to 33 per 100,000 during 2009- 2019.
Moreover, the pandemic pushed many households into poverty with adverse impact on health & nutrition and increased child labor, dropout rate, crime, digital divide. There is a continuous struggle between ‘Urban Advantage’ vs. ‘Urban Penalty’.
Moving on she discussed the results of her study with UNICEF on “Children and Adolescents in Urban India: Scale and Nature of Deprivation.” Secondary data was used and indictors like sanitation, employment, health, education etc. were taken into consideration The results showed a focus on Urban at all possible levels of disaggregation.
It analyzed the macro (Rural-Urban), regional (state level-urban-only UNICEF intervention states) and city level trends and patterns in the status of children and adolescents in terms of their health, nutritional intake, WASH, education, employment, violence and crime based on unit level data analysis. It also analyzed the differential dynamics among poor and non-poor children and slum and non-slum. Results also examined the determining factors and associations.
Some limitations that were faced included inadequate sample size at disaggregated level. Also, absence of uniform and standardized data especially across all age groups. Moreover, each secondary data source is based on a different time period with varying levels of disaggregation. There was absence of city level data (8 cities only) and Changing definitions over time.
Children’s health indicators and their survival, mortality and malnutrition rates were discussed in detail. She also focused on Child mortality and SDGs. She said that health, nutrition and WASH are highly interrelated phenomena. The inadequate access to water, sanitation and hygiene compounded with childhood malnutrition form critical impediments to the good health and well-being of children.
- NMR among urban poor is twice higher than the SDG target-3.2 of 12 per thousand live births.
- The current U5MR among urban poor is almost double the SDG target of 25 per 1,000 live births. Considering the pace of decline in U5MR in the past one decade it is unlikely that SDG-3.2 could be attained among urban poor by 2030.
Adding on about the different states of the country, she said that urban poor in Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Chhattisgarh have 2.5 times higher U5MR compared to SDG target. IMR came down for all groups but sharply for urban poor. Urban India has attained the target of IMR of 28 (National Health Policy 2017) but urban poor and slums are lagging. Gender gap persists in U5MR among urban poor (male mortality higher than females).
She then focused upon maternal health, overweight among adolescents in Urban India and malnutrition in women. She then presented some findings on social development of women having a positive impact.
- Findings from the regression exercise demonstrate that increase in immunization, mean age at marriage and mean years of female schooling reduces urban IMR.
- Poverty, higher fertility and bias in fertility behavior led to higher infant deaths but use of modern contraceptives reduces infant deaths.
- Analysis shows that with one unit increase in the use of modern contraception, there would be a corresponding 0.27-unit decline in the IMR.
- For one unit increase in the level of female’s mean years of schooling, there would be a 4.8-unit decline in the level of IMR. Therefore, one can conclude that social development of women has a positive impact.
She also talked about water sanitation and hygiene and how it can be improved. Access to water and Hygiene practices were also discussed. Then she also discussed children education focusing on dropout rates, GER (Gross Enrolment Ratio) and Attendance rates. Child Protection was also discussed. The focus was then on employment among children and adolescents.
- In 2017-18, 5.6 million children and young adolescents (5-17 years) were economically active among whom 1.2 million were located in urban areas.
- The number of children and adolescents 5-17 years) declined from 2.7
million in 2011-12 to 1.2 million in 2017-18
- Work Participation Rate of this age group is 1.8%
- 75% working children and adolescents in urban areas are poor.
- Work participation rate among urban poor children and adolescents is two times higher than that of the non-poor children adolescents.
- 90 percent of the working children and adolescents are employed in the informal sector.
- 55% child workers (5-14 years) are employed in hazardous industries.
- Large concentration of working children and adolescents are found in retail trade (20%), manufacturing of textile products and apparel (15%), construction (10%), restaurants and food stalls (5%).
- 5.9% children and adolescents in urban India are categorized as
‘nowhere’, i.e., neither studying nor working.
- Every second circular/seasonal migrant child is engaged in work.
Some Policy Recommendations on health, nutrition and wash were given. An increased budgetary provision to strengthen all sectors but public health in particular. There is provisioning of granular data for making comprehensive assessment of programmes. Also, promoting greater outreach of knowledge on hygiene practices among the poor. The behavioral changes open defecation and handwashing practices). Also, promote integrated effort among various stakeholders involved in improving WASH in the country. There can be small towns and census towns that need infrastructural investment in WASH.
Further, policy recommendations on education were also given. There is a need to shift the objective from ‘universalization of enrolment’ to ‘universalization of attendance’. Also extending the coverage of the Right to Education Act, 2009 from primary to secondary and higher-secondary education. While in general, ‘supply-side constraints’ have been reduced with increased access to schools, there is a need to make the teaching-learning process more “learner-centric” to reduce failure and drop-outs.
We need to deploy teachers according to the strength of students and establish a transparent and robust system for teacher recruitment. Also, it is necessary to build teaching capacity for socio-emotional learning to promote sustainable development. The focus should be on improving digital infrastructure and training to enhance digital literacy and online learning. Also, to develop a standard operating protocol for online learning, and create the proper infrastructure.
Moreover, restructuring the curriculum to avoid long-term interruption in academic activities. There is a need to adopt open-source digital learning solutions and Learning Management. A software to facilitate teachers to conduct online teaching can also be developed. DIKSHA platform, which is present in all states, can be further strengthened to ensure accessibility of learning to students. Remedial classes for needy students after regular class hours should be arranged as also suggested. Some general recommendations were suggested, and she concluded her talk.
Thereafter, Dr Rumi Aijaz presented his remarks. It was followed by an interactive question-answer session. The guest was thanked for the lecture and the session moved ahead to the next speaker.
Harshaa is a Research Intern at IMPRI.
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