The United Nations Population Division (UNPD) has been publishing and revising its World Urbanization Prospects since 1991, the latest being the 2002 revision, and this has become a popular source of data and analysis of the past, current and future proportion urban in each country, region or continent of the world. As urban issues get more attention, notably in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), it is increasingly used by other international agencies such as UNDP, World Bank, EIA, UN-Habitat as an instrument for projections of some other global trends, like poverty, energy consumption, environment and resources. Projections and even estimations, for recent years, of other global trends cannot indeed afford to do without urbanization projections, as they are often a key indicator of global integration. No other organization than the UN has been successful in compiling a database on urbanization that equals the UN database in scope and quality. An early attempt to offer alternative to the UN database is the GEOPOLIS database, which is using a common agglomeration and population criteria for all countries.
[...] The backward states, on the other hand, have experienced growth either below that of the country or at the most equal to that. Urbanisation process has, thus, been concentrated in developed regions with the exclusion of the backward states. Even here, the larger cities have recorded relatively higher growth” The impact of urban growth disparities on urban development disparities In the absence of manifest regional disparities in urban growth according to the UN projections, the government feels allowed to pursue on the path of decentralization, which widens discrepancies between developed and backward states. [...]
[...] Cohen, B., “Urban growth in developing countries: a review of current trends and a caution regarding existing forecasts”, World Development, vol Myrdal G., Objectivity in Social Research, Pantheon Books, New York - On urban growth, development and regional disparities Kundu A., “Urbanization and urban governance: search for a perspective beyond neo-liberalism”, Economic and Political Weekly, n°38 vol July 2003. “India: water supply and sanitation. Bridging the gap between infrastructure and service”, World Bank Report, January 2006. Rakesh M., “Urbanization in India's Future”, Population and Development Review, vol December 1985. [...]
[...] So the aim of this paper can in fact be considered to show how the general overestimation of urbanization growth, which the UN projections best exemplifies, can determine and/or justify publicly the choices of Indian political leaders. The second part of this paper is precisely devoted to analyzing the ideology behind these estimates. A special look will be taken at the impact of these projections on urban development and regional disparities. It will be shown that the benefits expected from urbanization in a neo-liberal view strengthen the path of the national government towards more and more decentralization. [...]
[...] The impact of an overestimated urban growth on political choices: widening regional disparities How can these wrong perspectives on urbanization lead to the justification of political choices in India? It all depends on what is trying to be proven. In the case of India, urbanization is seen in the neo- liberal view dominant view amongst rulers- as a phenomenon, which promotes economic and urban development. Having an overestimated urbanization growth is therefore considered a good thing. By referring to those high aggregated estimates, I assert that Indian policy-makers are able to hide that the profile and rate of change is not uniform in all the states. [...]
[...] So, what has been in the whole the impact of UN urbanization projections on urban development and regional disparities? This paper didn't aim at showing that UN projections were to be held responsible for the carrying on of the decentralization process and liberal policies. But it wanted to show and explain the mechanism though which these projections could be invoked to endorse the government's will to promote local governance, even at the price of increased disparities. Of course, as we are not able to quantify it, one could assert that the link between UN projections and the government policy might have been be of minor importance. [...]
Online readingwith our online reader
Content validatedby our reading committee