Despite a view that India is rapidly urbanising, it will have just half of its population in cities even in 2050, new UN projections show. In 2050, India will be one of the least urbanised major countries, with Sri Lanka, Uganda, Cambodia, Nepal, Kenya and Ethiopia for company, while China will be 76% urban.
The 2014 revision of the World Urbanization Prospects produced by the UN Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs was released on Thursday night. The 2014 Revision updates numbers and trends, and expands its analysis to a far wider range of urban settlements, the agency said.
In 2050, the world will have 9.55 billion people and India with 1.62 billion people will be the most populous country in the world, the numbers show, its population still growing. China, on the other hand, will have hit its peak of 1.45 billion in 2030 and have declined to 1.38 billion people by 2050.
Undoubtedly, India is urbanising, the numbers show; it will add 400 million urban residents between now and 2050, and will account for a third of all urban growth with China and Nigeria. However, the pace is not as fast as had been earlier imagined. The world’s rural population will hit its peak in a few years and is expected to decline to 3.1 billion by 2050. While India has the world’s largest rural population now (857 million), the number of rural residents is expected to decline by 52 million by 2050, as opposed to an upcoming decline of 300 million rural residents in China. India will account for a quarter of the world’s rural population in 2050, as it does now.
Within urban areas too, smaller cities still dominate. “In 2014 close to one half of the world’s urban population lives in settlements with fewer than 500,000 inhabitants. While this proportion is projected to shrink over time, by 2030 these small cities and towns will still be home to around 45 per cent of urban dwellers,” the report says. Another 10% of urban residents lived in cities of 500,000 to 1 million people, 20% of in cities of 1-5 million residents, 8% in cities of 5-10 million and 12% in cities of over 10 million.
Delhi, the world’s 12th largest city in 1990 but its second largest city today (after Tokyo), will remain the second largest in 2030 with a projected population of over 36 million people in the entire urban agglomeration. From two megacities (cities with over 10 million residents) – Mumbai and Kolkata – in 1990, India has three in 2014 – Delhi (25 million), Mumbai (21 million), Kolkata (15 million). By 2030, it will add four more – Bangalore, Chennai, Hyderabad and Ahmedabad.