Measurement of the degree of urbanisation in a country like India is considered very important. As per the first simple method we observed that the total urban population in India in 1981 was a little less than one fourth of the total population in comparison to that of one-ninth in 1921 and one-sixth in 1951.
The second method, i.e., the urban-rural growth differential (URGD) method also revealed that the growth rates of both rural and urban population are very close to each other at present.
The provisional figure of total urban population of India in 2011 is estimated at 377 million which is estimated at 31.16 per cent of the total population of the country.
Moreover, the total number of towns in India which was only 1627, gradually rose to 3060 in 1951, 3126 in 1971, 4029 in 1981 and then to 5166 in 2001.
Due to social and economic pressures, people from backward villages started to move towards urbanised centres in search of job, where newly established industries and ancillary activities continuously offer job opportunities to those people migrating to cities.
With the gradual growth of the economy, the process of urbanisation depends on the shift of surplus population from rural to urban areas along-with the growth of some industrialised urban centres.
With a liberal definition of urban area adopted in 1951, the proportion of urban population suddenly rose to 17.6 per cent.
But with a slightly strict definition, the proportion of urban population recorded a small increase to 18.3 per cent in 1961.
Therefore, urban areas have higher percentage of lower middle income, middle income, upper middle income and higher income group of people than that of rural areas. Thus it is found from Table 6.8 that the percentage of households in the lower middle income category was 34.75 per cent in urban areas as compared to that of 23.88 per cent in the rural areas.
Similarly, the percentage of households in the middle income and the upper middle income categories were 17.89 per cent and 6.46 per cent in the urban areas as compared to that of only 7.06 per cent and 1.16 per cent in the rural areas.