The rurban areas are defined by the Census of India as urban but are governed by Rural Local Bodies (Gram Panchayats), and in very few cases, by Nagar Panchayats. These are census towns with rural and urban characteristics. These centres were first defined by Galphin in 1915 for rural land which were on the verge of becoming urban. The metropolis, mega cities and a large process a development takes place in the rurban areas and contemporary research has shifted focus from urbanization to rurbanization. These rurban areas may be used for commercial purposes administrative reasons, transportation, industrial activities, etc. Kerala has the highest number of census towns (93%) followed by West Bengal (66%), while the lowest number has been observed in Chhattisgarh (4%) and Madhya Pradesh (9%).
The Rural-Urban Continuum
The conceptual scheme of the rural-urban continuum has been discussed, criticized and employed by anthropologists and field sociologists during its history of about twenty five years. As Rao writes, the folk (rural) society is characterized by small, isolated, non-literate and homogenous with a strong sense of group solidarity. The other side of the continuum, the urban type is only constructed in contrast with the folk people.
The rural–urban continuum is consistently defined as the set of two‐way flows of people, money, services, resources and information between rural and urban areas which touches the tangible aspects (market linkages, water resource abstraction) as well as the intangible ones (flows of ideas, changes related to aspirations). Research in international contexts has defined the rurban spatially where ‘rurban fringes’ are areas that are rural in nature but are closely similar to urban areas. G.S Wehrwein defines fringe areas “as the area of transition between well recognized urban land uses and the area devoted to agriculture.” (1924). W. Firey explains rurban fringe as a marginal area in 1946. In 1952 Dickinson remarked it “as an extension of the city itself, present or potential. Attention is also given to describe the population characteristics of the fringe areas. It is seen that the fringes occupy an intermediate position in certain demographic characteristics between rural and urban situations. The economic life of people revolves around farm and non-farm activities, part – time farming and commuting.
In India the term ‘rurban’ has been defined to describe the transition or transformation of village societies to urban societies. The term ‘rurbanism’ emerged as a result of the rural-urban continuum as been defined as a process of integrating the urban with rural suggesting an evolution of the countryside where city life is also embedded within it.
The Challenges of Rurban Societies
The rurban society as an emerging form is facing some challenges due to lack of proper planning and social development. As a result of increased pressure on land resources, agricultural lands are being used for non-agricultural purposes making social interaction very complex. Where there is a situation of cultural assimilation due to migration from urban areas there is also a fear of losing ethnic culture. Illegal and unplanned construction of buildings and commercial complexes posits threats of evacuation to the residents. Such challenges require the attention of concerned authorities to mitigate the problems giving way to more complexities in those areas.