ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Subaltern Urbanisation in India

The concept of subaltern urbanisation refers to the growth of settlement agglomerations, whether denoted urban by the Census of India or not, that are independent of the metropolis and autonomous in their interactions with other settlements, local and global. Analysing conventional and new data sources "against the grain", this paper claims support for the existence of such economically vital small settlements, contrary to perceptions that India's urbanisation is slow, that its smaller settlements are stagnant and its cities are not productive. It offers a classification scheme for settlements using the axes of spatial proximity to metropolises and degree of dministrative recognition, and looks at the potential factors for their transformation along economic, social and political dimensions. Instead of basing policy on illusions of control, understanding how agents make this world helps comprehend ongoing Indian transformations.

The paper has benefi ted substantially from constructive comments of an anonymous referee. The authors would also like to thank foremost the SUBURBIN team for many useful and contentious conversations that helped to shape this paper, and the other participants of the SUBURBIN workshop held on 16 and 17 April 2012. Sanjoy Chakravorty and Pratap Bhanu Mehta provided incisive and helpful comments. We are also indebted to Kanhu Charan Pradhan for invaluable assistance with the analysis and for sharing his preliminary fi ndings. Shamindra Roy assisted with the geospatial analysis and Manka Bajaj provided valuable editorial comments. All errors are our responsibility.

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