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Integrated development essential for India

Impact of Urbanisation and Industrialisation on Rural Society Edited by PS Lamba and S S Solanki . Publisher: Wiley Eastern Limited, Delhi . Price: Rs.200

By Srila Dasgupta
Published: Monday 15 March 1993

Disparate development: Factory (Credit: Ashish Kothari)WESTERN urbanisation began with the Industrial Revolution and was accompanied by both economic and social development. But in India and most other developing countries, urbanisation does not reflect development. India's urban population increased from 10.84 per cent in 1901 to 25.72 per cent in 1991, but the majority of Indians still live in rural areas. About 80 per cent of Indians are involved in agriculture, only 52.11 per cent are literate and life expectancy is still a low 56 years, according to statistics cited by P S Lamba and S S Solanki in their book, which is based on 21 papers by eminent scholars.

A sense of discontent with the present state of affairs underlies the papers which deal with such topics as spatial disparity, problems of migration, unfavourable socio-economic changes and the role of science and technology in development.

The authors suggest a more integrated approach to development, using appropriate technologies while also providing educational, health and financial facilities to the people.

However, the book is repetitive and lacks both coherence and direction. One questions the wisdom of generalising for the whole country on the basis of case studies of Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and western U P.

The essence of the book is expressed by what social worker Bunker Roy once said: "The literate person's pre-conceived notion about what the poor needs, poses the greatest obstacle to participatory development." On the whole, I feel the suggestions proposed for improvement are too Utopian, as they would require a complete political, social and economic restructuring.

Srila Dasgupta is an M.Phil candidate at the Centre For the Study of Regional Development, Jawaharlal Nehru University.

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