Journal Article

Urbanization in India: Population and urban classification grids for 2011

India is the world’s most populous country, yet also one of the least urban. It has long been known that India’s official estimates of urban percentages conflict with estimates derived from alternative conceptions of urbanization. To date, however, the detailed spatial and settlement boundary data needed to analyze and reconcile these differences have not been available. This paper presents gridded estimates of population at a resolution of 1 km along with two spatial renderings of urban areas—one based on the official tabulations of population and settlement types (i.e., statutory towns, outgrowths, and census towns) and the other on remotely-sensed measures of built-up land derived from the Global Human Settlement Layer. We also cross-classified the census data and the remotely-sensed data to construct a hybrid representation of the continuum of urban settlement. In their spatial detail, these materials go well beyond what has previously been available in the public domain, and thereby provide an empirical basis for comparison among competing conceptual models of urbanization.