Life in Big Indian Cities!

Image – Satish Krishnamurthy

I was speaking to an old friend who is working in Mumbai. He said there is no life in the big city these days; just a mind-numbing rat race between 9-to-9 with no work-life balance whatsoever. Another friend from Delhi echoed similar feelings. “Every day it’s an uphill struggle just to get to office and return home. Weekends are lost in just lying around and recuperating from the pain. Even if you go out for shopping or cinema during weekends, the crowd everywhere just squeezes out all the fun!”

Life in big cities
Image via Flickr by Padmanaba

These words made me think… Is there any life left in big cities? Can we rate Indian cities based on standards of living and quality of life? Studying the latest data from the Census of India, 2011, I found an interesting way to find cities with better living standards. I filtered out cities with more than 3 million people and ranked them on literacy rate, gender ratio and population density. Accordingly, Nagpur, Pune and Chennai led the ranking, followed by Bengaluru, Lucknow, Ahmedabad. Surprisingly, Surat the top ranked city ‘Quality of Life’ surveys, shares the bottom rank with Kanpur due to its poor male-female ratio of 1000-758, which is one the lowest among all cities in India!

 Ranking based on Human Development Indices
City Population Sex Ratio Literacy Rate Population Density Rate
Nagpur  2,405,421 961  93.13 10,550 1
Pune  3,115,431 946  91.61 11,205 2
Chennai  4,681,087 986  90.33 25,501 3
Bengaluru  8,425,970 914  89.59 6,642 4
Lucknow  2,815,601 915  84.72 4,218 5
Ahmedabad  5,570,585 897  89.62 22,473 6
Mumbai  12,478,447 852  90.28 22,937 7
Hyderabad  6,809,970 945  82.96 18,480 8
Kolkata  4,486,679 899  87.14 27,774 9
Delhi  11,007,835 875  87.61 29,155 10
Jaipur 3,073,350 898 84.34 27,613 11
Surat 4,462,002 758 89.03 23,196 12
Kanpur 2,767,031 842 84.14 1,366 13


Incidentally, some recent surveys have also rated cities based on other criteria. Chandigarh ranked first in the national sanitation and cleanliness survey conducted under the National Urban Sanitation Policy in 2010. It is followed by Mysore, Surat and New Delhi. Similarly, the newly launched Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems by Janaagraha, Surat was the top-ranked city for urban planning, cleanliness, water supply, crime control and government services. It was closely followed by Pune and Ahmedabad. So is there life in big cities or should we all move to smaller ones? Check the data and decide.

 Quality of Life Ranking
City Rank
Surat 1
Pune 2
Ahmedabad 3
Mumbai 4
Chennai 5
Kolkata 6
Jaipur 7
Hyderabad 8
Bengaluru 9
Delhi 10
Kanpur 11


Factfile –

Levine Lawrence
Stuck inside an air-conditioned cubicle... i yearn to ride into the countryside... under the open blue skies, where farmers toil in the field, smell mitti ki khushboo, fill more greenery into the picture... travel across the world, meet more people, bring smile on faces... and finally, work for world peace. Just like those Miss World statements! I am a veteran media professional with 12 years of diverse experience in business media and research in India. Apart from my full time job as a researcher, I have been an avid travel photo-journalist, who has covered the art & cultural aspects of South India. Further, I am actively involved in the voluntary organisations working on energy efficiency, organic farming and environmental issues.