[Model Answer QP2023 GS1] Does urbanisation lead to more segregation and or marginalisation of the poor in Indian metropolises?


Urbanization in India has been a double-edged sword. On one hand, it offers economic opportunities, better infrastructure, and access to improved services; on the other hand, it can exacerbate inequalities and lead to the marginalization of vulnerable groups.

Urbanization Leading to Segregation and Marginalization:

1. Slums and Informal Settlements: Rapid urbanization often leads to the emergence of slums, as many migrants cannot afford formal housing. These settlements often lack basic amenities such as clean water, sanitation, and healthcare, leading to a spatial segregation between the “formal” city and its “informal” settlements.

2. Rising Land and Property Prices: With the influx of people and businesses, property prices in cities soar. The urban poor and even the middle class sometimes get pushed to the peripheries or less developed parts of the city.

3. Gentrification: Upgradation of urban areas, often for commercial or aesthetic purposes, can push out the original residents who can no longer afford the rising cost of living in these areas.

4. Limited Access to Services: The urban poor might not have the same level of access to quality healthcare, education, and other services as their wealthier counterparts, leading to further marginalization.

5. Employment Challenges: Many migrants who move to cities end up in informal sectors with no job security, low wages, and hazardous working conditions. They remain economically vulnerable despite living in a city.

6. Social Exclusion: Due to differences in language, culture, or social status, migrants might face social exclusion or discrimination, leading to their further marginalization.

Urbanisation being Inclusive:

1. Economic Opportunities: Cities offer diverse economic opportunities, from informal vending to formal sector jobs. Even if many migrants end up in low-paying jobs, these might still offer better income than their rural counterparts.

2. Social Mobility: Urban areas provide platforms for networking, education, and skill acquisition, potentially allowing for upward social mobility.

3. Access to Amenities: Despite challenges, cities offer better access to services like healthcare and education compared to many rural areas.

4. Government Initiatives: Programs like the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Urban) aim to improve housing and infrastructure for the urban poor, reducing segregation and marginalization.

5. Community and Solidarity: Often, migrants from the same region or community cluster together in urban spaces, offering social support and communal solidarity.


The challenge for urban planners and policymakers is to make urbanization inclusive and equitable, ensuring that the growth of cities doesn’t leave their most vulnerable inhabitants behind.

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