The puzzle of Indian urbanisation: Why rural-urban migration decelerated at 25% levels when global average is 50%?

Pronab Sen of IGC India Central looks at this urbanisation puzzle in India:

The global experience has been that as countries develop, rural-to-urban migration accelerates, and decelerates only when the urbanisation level is very high – usually well over 50%. In contrast, migration in India began decelerating when urbanisation was below 25%. In the article, Pronab Sen deconstructs this puzzle.

The main reason? India’s political system. Any rapid migration movement makes it difficult for the political masters to understand their bases. Thus, they try and slow it down:

The reason may lie in the imperatives of gaining and retaining political power. In a country where political success is driven by managing the 3 Cs of Indian society – caste, community, and class – no incumbent political leader would like to see any uncontrolled change in the social configuration of the constituency, and therefore of the winning coalition. Migration causes this both in the originating villages and destination towns. Initially these effects may be relatively small, but can snowball over time since much of migration is driven by social networks.
The political system seems to have succeeded: 80% of Indian urban growth is organic in that it arises from three predominant sources: (a) natural population growth; (b) absorption of neighbouring villages; and (c) designating existing villages as “census towns”. None of these involve spatial movement of people and hence, do not alter the social composition of constituencies. Migration accounts for the remaining 20%, most of which is for marriage. This too may not upset the political calculus.
India is just so so interesting. Contrasts everywhere..

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