Issues in the Developing World
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Edited by H. S. Geyer
Chapter 11: Urban–rural Inequalities in South and South-East Asia: Colonial Policy Impacts and Current Spatial–Economic Disparities
S. Mukherji Introduction The United Nations Population Fund report, ‘The state of world population 2007: unleashing the potential of urban growth’ (UNDP, 2007: 1–12) has detailed some eyeopening facts that will compel most people to rethink their plans of settling down in a city. Since 2008, more than half of the world’s current 6.7 billion people live in cities. By 2030, the urban population will have risen to 5 billion, 60 per cent of the world’s population. Between 2000 and 2030, Asia’s urban population will increase from 1.3 billion to 2.64 billion. Recent UN Reports on World Urbanization Prospects, 2007 also reiterated the same: by 2030, the world’s urban population will have risen to 4.96 billion, 2.67 billion of them living in Asia. By 2050, the world’s urban population will have risen to a staggering 6.4 billion, and Asia’s urban population will have risen to 3.5 billion. Numerous reasons are given, but unprecedented migration, due to rural poverty and the search for better employment opportunities are the main reasons (UNDP, 2007: 1–10). Rural–urban migration thus far has had several negative consequences, which are closely intertwined with its root causes in the colonial past: First it causes severe urban congestion, urban decay, proliferation of slums, excessive growth of urban informal sectors, acute unemployment, and frequent breakdowns in essential urban services such as water provision, transport, electricity. These huge inflows of migrants, occurring under conditions of utmost distress, have led to extreme forms of urban decay in the four...
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