India has had a hard time adjusting to its own rapid urbanization, resulting in the surge in the informal market as well as the creation of slums. Many of these problems go unaddressed by India’s government, despite how central they are to its efficiency and revenue.
In India, slums are a physical reminder of the ills of industrialization. One in six Indians reside in conditions ‘unfit for human habitation’ as a result of India’s urbanization frenzy. The unsanitary conditions range from lack of indoor plumbing to poor house structures, with slum residents often times having come to the city in search of jobs, lacking the financial means necessary to live within the traditional boundaries of a city.
The dispute over what constitutes an urban areas has reached international proportions, with global entities such as the EU and World Bank challenging data collected by India’s census officials. This debate highlights India’s rampant city planning problem, with a lack of a clear urban definition or city boundaries, city officials often skirt the pressing issues of the slums by purporting the idea that they are not encompassed within the city’s boundaries.
The unaddressed problem of both sanitation and pollution is beginning to force city residents to retreat back into the countryside, as seen in the migration of Delhi residents in November of 2017, when the level of toxic microscopic particles reached 75 times above what is considered to be safe by the World Health Organization. India’s environment has also been heavily affected by its rapid urban growth, with major cities such as Mumbai having lost upwards of 88% of its vegetation.
With Air Quality Index values ranging from a low of 85 to the maximum of 500, it is evident that even in the most rural of areas air pollution is still very prevalent. As India’s population continues to grow at an alarming rate, projected to add 250 million people to its population in the next twenty years, it can only be assumed that the pollution associated with human activities, such as fuel consumption, will increase directly with the population.
The informal sector of India’s economy poses a threat to traditional employment and education, with 90 percent of the agricultural sector and 70 percent of the non-agricultural falling under the informal category. This poses a great threat to India’s future economy, as tax evasion and black money are problems which thrive in an informal sector-dominated society.
As India’s population continues to grow, it will be pertinent for the government to generate a large number of good jobs in order to stably employ its people, thereby reducing the economic inequality. Education improvement will also be key in creating a market of skilled workers, allowing for those who live in regions in which agriculture is more prevalent to have a larger skill set for the job market.