It is now almost axiomatic that cities are the engines of growth. Historically, federal support programmes have focused on rural areas, but over the past fifteen years, the need to devise such programmes for urban local bodies has come to be recognised, with JNNURM in its various forms, being the most visible early manifestation.

This paper presents the results of an investigation of selected census towns in northern India. Census towns are settlements that India's census classifies as urban although they continue to be governed as rural settlements.

There are a number of issues that need to be debated about India’s urbanization. While the popular perception is that of a deluge of migrants into urban areas, others (I among them) are concerned that our urbanization is too slow.

Urbanisation in India is both a necessary input and an inevitable consequence of growth. However, we must accept that the existing urbanisation models are unsustainable at the Indian scale and there is no available alternative trajectory.