Urbanization of Dibrugarh: A view into the social aspect

Article by Sreekar Maddala

Migration, whether internal or international, has always been one of the forces driving the growth of urbanization and bringing opportunities and challenges to cities, migrants and governments. Urban migration is a result of the outbreak and poverty that has created rural and urban migration. It is happening not only because of urban sprawl but also because of rural push-ups. Urban migration in India has been relatively slow compared with developing lands. Urbanization in India is mainly due to liberalization of its economy after the 1990s, which gave rise to the development of the private sector. Presently, although urbanization is taking place at a fast rate in India, only one-third of its population lives in urban areas. According to the 2011 census, there are 53 cities in India with a population of a million or more; by 2031, that number will rise to 87.  One of the states in India which has seen a relatively recent trend of rapid urbanization is Assam. Assam is one of those states of India, which is traditionally rural in character with agriculture and allied activities being the primary occupation of its population. However, over the years there has been an upward trend towards urbanisation and it got momentum particularly in the post-independence era. The growth rate of population during the second half of the 20th century has been really commendable in urban Assam. Among the states of India, Assam has got the largest population of persons born outside the state.

One of the towns which has witnessed recent rapid urbanization and can be studied as a benchmark is the town of Dibrugarh. In the town of Dibrugarh, it has been noted that most town dwellers engage in trade and commerce. Others do jobs such as doctors, engineers, lawyers, civil servants, security personnel, teachers, professionals and government services and others in charge of private work. One of the reasons the town has grown is because of the influence of tea and other government institutions. It is surrounded by the mighty Brahmaputra River. In this town, there are many industries large and small, government offices, shopkeepers’ numbers, motorists and Tempo drivers, rickshaw pullers, daily operations and more. All of this is due to the heavy influence of urbanization. One of the major reasons for this recent trend in urbanization is the construction of the Bogibeel Bridge which is a combined road and rail bridge over the Brahmaputra River in the northeastern Indian state of Assam between Dhemaji district and Dibrugarh district, which had started construction in the year 2002 and took a total of 200 months to complete, Bogibeel river bridge is the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India, measuring 4.94 kilometres over the Brahmaputra river. The completion of the construction led to a rapid inflow of migrants which in turn lead to rapid urbanization of the town. Urbanization has also encouraged economic participation and job opportunities to attract more people to the town. It is also important that urban incomes are generally higher compared to rural incomes. As a result, young men and women kept moving to the towns in Assam, and the same applies to Dibrugarh. They came primarily for commercial and administrative purposes. It should be noted that the town of Dibrugarh is the center of rapid economic activities, commerce, arts, education, politics, education, technology, science and other activities. It has also been observed that economic life in urban areas is better than in rural areas. Here, everyone can easily manage to do something, which is not easy in rural areas. It also recognizes that the town offers opportunities and resources to make full use of human skills and abilities. 

One of the many noteworthy effects of urbanization is how the urban centre has provided freedom for women by standing on an equal footing with men. Today, many urban women are involved in both White and Blue collar jobs. In the town of Dibrugarh, many women are involved in business as shopkeepers, tailors, beauty salons and also in more technical jobs such as tax collectors and others. There are various types of business like shop owners, photo studio, transportation business, hotel business, petrol pump, fish and meat retailers, hairdressers, laundry, goldsmiths, metalworkers, and more. This diversity in businesses can be attributed as the influence of urbanization.

Social Mobility refers to the movement of people from one social status to another, from the lowest to the highest or from the lowest to the rich. Town life in this way is very competitive. With regard to urban planning, it is said that cities will need to achieve three goals of ensuring that all citizens have adequate living conditions; 

  • Urban planning by building adequate infrastructure, such as roads, housing, , water and sanitation services, public transport, schools and health clinics; 
  • An urban development strategy, by adapting their objectives to their regional context to transform informal settlements into official communities; and 
  • Strengthen urban governance to improve the lives of the poor and promote equality. If urban policy makers confirm the above, the spread of urbanization will be of great benefit. 

The process of globalization has increased the value of being intelligent and even one becomes wise by associating with intelligent people. Therefore, cities are permanently important as they create meaningful connections that build people’s finances and encourage new inventions. Problems, such as poverty, pollution, and disease, are not the result of urbanization but of a lack of proper planning and management of cities by policymakers. 

The town lifestyle can also be perceived as being very scientific and comfortable along with the heavy competition. Most of the residents in Dibrugarh are educated, but some of them are illiterate. They prefer the formal and technical education of their children. This furthers the point that an urban lifestyle has both positive and negative effects on people. New sacrifices, innovations, new experiments, new strategies and projects can bring tangible benefits, but at the same time can put a lot of pressure on the people. This leads to the question, Is urbanization a boon or bane?

About the author:

Sreekar Maddala is a Third Year Student at College of Engineering Pune. His research interests include the fields of GIS, Mobility, Public Policy, Project management and mapping. His experience is spread across the fields of mapping, spatial data analysis and modelling. Other than this he has conducted research work on Public policy and City funding infrastructure. Currently, Sreekar is associated with NEDA as an intern.

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