These grey settlements, classified as large and very large villages in Census 2011, are home to around 190 million people.

India could thus be considered more urban than official estimates show if different definitions were used. The face of “urban India” would change if these settlements were considered “potentially urban” and reclassified. These grey settlements could even be future hubs of manufacturing and service industries.


Indian Institute for Human Settlements analysed data of all the 600,000 urban and rural settlements from Census 2011 and visualised these trends using graphs and maps in the book Urban India 2015: Evidence. Some key trends emerged: High density clusters had formed in the neighbourhood of established urban centres; urban settlements in the southern and western regions had increased; and settlements with populations of less than 1,000 had decreased, accompanied by an increase in settlements with populations between 5,000 and 20,000 over the last three decades.