Does urbanization lead to more segregation and/or marginalization of the poor in Indian metropolises?

Model Answer


Urbanisation is a process by which proportion of population in urban areas is increasing. Urban settlements are characterised by close interactions, benefits of agglomeration, anonymity and social mobility.

However, despite its promise India’s urbanisation has been characterised as exclusionary marked by segregation and marginalisation.


Factors contributing to segregation in urban areas

  • Spatial segregation:
  1. Gated communities: Increasing proliferation of gated communities restrict the access to general public and poor. These gated communities exclude poor and highlight the tendency among the elite for social segregation. 
  2. Religious segregation: Poor from minority communities especially Muslims concentrate in ghetto-like localities. Sometimes, some communities do not rent out houses to minorities even if they are willing to pay market rates. 
  • Access to commons: Poorers parts of the city are denser habitation with lower per capita access to common areas like public parks and roads etc.
  • Education: Children of urban poor are mostly educated in government schools and lack in adequate number of teachers. 
  • Lack of well-developed public transport and common areas means the rich travel in
  • Cultural segregation: Urban poor are often migrants who are culturally alienated from the mainstream culture of the metropolises.

Factors contributing of marginalisation

  • Slums and ghettos: Most poor live in informal shanties with poor living conditions, lacking in provision of basic amenities like provision of clean drinking water, sanitation and lighting.
  • Lack of government services like access to healthcare, public transport and education.
  • Informal sector: Most urban poor are employed in the informal sector with no or limited social security leading to their harassment and exploitation.
  • Domestic workers: Domestic help workers do not have dedicated legal framework to offer them protection. 
  • Environmental marginalisation: Increasing urban pollution levels hits the poorest as they do not have adequate resources to employ RO plants, air purifiers etc. Also, adverse impacts of climate change like heat island effect.
  • Political marginalistion: Migrant populations do not have say in the governance of cities. Also, urban local bodies lack effective powers and resources to tackle issues of urban poor.


Thus, in the spirit of New Urban Agenda India should plan for Right to City as the bedrock of inclusionary urbanisation. This can be done by developing common areas, better investment in public provisions of health and education and public housing for urban poor.

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