The classification of urban areas in India is done as Census Towns and
statutory towns, where the statutory towns contains Nagar Panchayats,
Municipalities and Municipal Corporations which are constituted by state act,
while the census towns are recognised by the census.

The term subaltern has been coined by a sociologist Gramsci
as, “low rank” person or group of people in a particular society suffering
under hegemonic domination of a ruling elite class that denies them the basic
rights of participation in the making of local history and culture as active individuals
of the same nation

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. (Eric Denis, Subaltern
Urbanisation in India, 2012)

If we compare the concept of subaltern with the urban
structure in India, the Census Towns which are usually small and medium towns can
be considered as the subaltern (low rank) in character due to its
administrative structure which is rural (Village Panchayat) in nature but,
satisfying the three fold criteria of urban as denoted by Census of India i.e.,

A minimum population of 5000

At least 75% of the male main working population
engaged in non-agricultural pursuits

A density of population of at least 400 persons
per Sq.Km.

Conceptual Framework

The subaltern urbanisation refers to autonomous growth of
settlement agglomerations (which may or may not be denoted urban by the Census
of India) that are generated by market and historical forces, which are not

“Dependent” on large traditionally important settlements
or (b) “planned” cities like Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar or industrial townships
like Mithapur, in Jamnagar district, Gujarat. The attempt is to investigate growth
of settlements beyond that (1) driven by the economics of agglomeration, as
advanced by the new economic geography, summarised by Venables (2005) or

Directly orchestrated by the state or private
corporate enterprise. (Eric Denis, 2012)

For subaltern urbanisation, a necessary characteristic is
independence from the metropolis and a degree of autonomy. This does not
preclude the presence of linkages among settlements. Settlements may also have
a mix of autonomous and dependent (on a metropolis) urbanisation processes,
varying over time. Based on the observed pattern of urbanisation, we try to characterise
subaltern urbanisation on two axes, viz, spatial proximity and administrative
recognition. On the spatial proximity axis, we consider two types, viz, (1)
peripheral, where the settlement is located in the periphery to the metropolis,
and (2) non-peripheral, or all other settlements. On the administrative
recognition axis, we posit the following four types of settlements, viz, (1)
invisible, or not recognised as urban; (2) denied, or classified as a census
town; (3) recognised, as a statutory town; and finally (4) contested, where the
settlement is contesting its administrative status. The last can be of two subtypes;
first, where the administrative classification is rural but the settlement
wants to be recognised as urban and second, where the settlement wants to be
rural but the administrative classification is urban.

Need for the Study

As quoted by (Kundu) the economic and
demographic growth in these towns must be supported through specific
interventions because, if left to market forces, it would take decades for
their economic transformation and to get linked with the national market. There
is an urgent need to make them “a part of India’s future urbanisation”, and if
we look into the urbanisation rate of India the current rate as of 2011 is 31%
out of which the settlements the falls under the spatial buffer around metropolitan
cities concludes 37.2%, or 926 (of 2,489) of settlements and 33.6% of the
population fall within these buffers, indicating that much of this growth is
outside the peripheries of existing large towns.

The thesis aims to study the economic structure of such small
and medium towns which are autonomous in their economic behaviour through any
predominant economic activity, the aim of the study is to know the inter settlement
linkages, socio-economic structure which are usually of linked with the
neighbouring metropolis and further determines the lacking in the development
policies for such towns if they show a varied economic structure unlike the
other dependent small and medium towns.


To assess the spatial economic changes of the settlement


Determining the existing scenario of economic
activity and its impact on spatial transformation.

Analysing the economic pattern and its spatial

Comparative analysis of economic contribution
and its trade pattern.

Evolving strategies for economic and spatial
development of the town.