Urban Area

As per Census, of India the deletion of urban area adopted is as follows: All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee, etc.

All other places which satisfy the following criteria

  • a minimum population of 5,000;
  • at least 75 per cent of male working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and
  • a density of population of at least 400 persons per sq km (1000 per sq mile)

Besides, the Directors of Census Operation in States/Union territories were allowed to include, in consultation with the State Governments/Union Territory Administrations and the Census Commissioner of India, some places having distinct urban characteristics as urban, even if such places did not strictly satisfy all the criteria mentioned under category (b) above. Such marginal cases include major project colonies, areas of intensive industrial development, railway colonies, important tourist centres, etc.

Size-Class Composition of Urban Population

Census of India has presented the urban areas in six-fold. An urban centre with less than one lakh population is called a town while that with more than one lakh is called a city. Cities having population varying from one to five million are called metropolitan cities while those with more than five million are known as mega cities. Majority of metropolitan and mega cities are urban agglomerations. An urban agglomeration may consist of any one of the following three combination:

  • a town and its adjoining urban outgrowths,
  • two or more contiguous towns with or without their outgrowths, and
  • a city and one or more adjoining towns with their outgrowths together forming a contiguous spread. Examples of urban outgrowth are railway colonies, university campus, port area military cantonment etc. located within the revenue limits of a village or villages contiguous to the town or city.

According to 2011 census, India has 53 million plus (metropolitan) cities. They are in descending order of population, Greater Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Pune, Surat, Jaipur, Kanpur, Lucknow, Patna, Nagpur, Ghaziabad, Indore, Coimbatore, Kochi, Kozhikode, Bhopal, rissur, Vadodara, Agra, Visakha patnam, Malappuram, iruvananthapuram, Kunnur, Ludhiana, Na shik, Vijaywada, Maduari, Varansi, Meerut, Rajkot, Faridabad, Jamshedpur, Srinagar, Jabalpur, Asansol, Allahabad, Dhanbad, Vasai-Virar, Aurangabad, Amritsar, Jodhpur, Ranchi, Raipur, Kollam, Gwalior, Durg-Bhilainagar, Chandigarh, Tiruchirappalli and Kota.

The growth of these urban areas from 1901 to 2001 is given in the following table:

Growth of Urbanisation by Class of Town

  Class of town       Population in ‘000s      
    1901 1951 1961 1971 1981 1991 2001 2011
I. 1,00,000 and above 6,652 27,812 40,518 61,863 95,952 1,40,067 1,76,722 2,27,899
II. 50,000-99,999 3,011 6,109 8,659 12,108 18,195 23,629 34,098 41,328
III. 20,000-49,999 3,994 9,745 13,154 17,103 21,584 28,688 41,957 58,174
IV. 10,000-19,999 5,281 8,412 9,934 11,861 14,543 17,074 22,307 31,866
V. 5,000-9,999 5,186 7,986 5,449 4,824 5,386 5,650 7.746 15,883
VI. Less than 5,000 1,572 1,925 625 496 760 663 772 1956

Linguistic Composition

The inhabitants of India came from different parts of the world and brought different languages to India. It is, therefore, natural that there are so many languages and dialects in India. Language became a very important basis for the formation of states in India after independence, the reby adding a new political meaning to the geographical distribution of languages.

According to Grierson (Linguistic Survey of India, 1903-1928) there were altogether 179 languages and as many as 544 dialects in the country. The most comprehensive data on languages was collected at the time of 1961 census. As many as 1652 languages were listed as mother tongues in India. Out of these, as many as 94 languages are spoken by less than 10,000 persons each, and 23 languages together account for 97% of the total population of the country. Of these 23 languages, 15 languages in addition to English have been specified in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Three more languages have been added to Eighth Schedule by a Parliamentary Act on 20th August, 1992. These languages are Nepali, Konkani and Manipuri.

Later on Maithili, Santali, Dogri and Bodo were also included in the Schedule, making a total of 22 languages. The number of people and their percentage to the total population is given in the following table:


Scheduled Languages in Descending Order of Speakers’ Strength-2001


  Language Persons who returned Percentage to
    the language as their total population
    mother tongue  
    2001 2001
  INDIA 1,028,610,328 96.56
1. Hindi 422,048,642 41.03
2. Bengali 83,369,769 8.11
3 Telugu 74,002,856 7.19
4 Marathi 71,936,894 6.99
5 Tamil 60,793,814 5.91
6 Urdu 51,536,111 5.01
7 Gujarati 46,091,617 4.48
8 Kannada 37,924,011 3.69
9 Malayalam 33,066,392 3.21
10 Oriya 33,017,446 3.21


11 Punjabi 29,102,477 2.83
12 Assamese 13,168,484 1.28
13 Maithili 12,179,122 1.18
14 Santali 6,469,600 0.63
15 Kashmiri 5,527,698 0.54
16 Nepali 2,871,749 0.28
17 Sindhi 2,535,485 0.25
18 Konkani 2,489,015 0.24
19 Dogri 2,282,589 0.22
20 Manipuri 1,466,705 0.14
21 Bodo 1,350,478 0.13
22 Sanskrit 14,135 N

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