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The number of villages
Atul Thakur, Oct 30, 2021: The Times of India
'India lives in its villages’ is a statement often attributed to Mahatma Gandhi. There is no doubt that it still holds true as even in the 75th year of Independence most Indians live in villages. A recently released handbook for census officers, however, points to a change in the course of India’s development story.
For the first time since the 1981 Census, the country has seen a decline in the number of villages. This could be a sign of accelerating urbanisation. Barring 1981, the number of villages has increased in each subsequent census year. This trend meant the country’s urban population increased mainly due to the growth of already existing cities rather than more rural areas getting urbanised and being reclassified as cities.
But 1981 was an exception as it saw the highest proportionate increase in the urban population between two census years, accompanied with a massive decline in villages. Yet, the 1991 Census saw a significant increase in villages. If one discounts these fluctuations, the pattern of change since 1991 is more consistent and points at a phase of rapid urbanisation.