44% of Mohali residents are graduates, the highest among Indian cities

Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar, better known as Mohali, the cricket venue near Chandigarh, has the distinction of having the highest share of graduates in its population among all Indian cities. Nearly 44% of its residents are either graduates or above.

Another Chandigarh neighbour, Panchkula, has the second highest share at 39%. Others in the top 10 include Bidhan Nagar, popularly called Salt Lake City, in Kolkata, Gurgaon, and Alandur in Chennai.

These details have been drawn from the data on educational levels of cities collected during Census 2011 and released recently. A total of 505 cities are included, ranging from Jehanabad in Bihar, with a population of 6.6 lakh, to the giant Mumbai Municipal Corporation, with 96 lakh residents. They represent 45% of urban India.

About 6% of India’s population were graduates or above in 2011. One third of them stayed in rural areas, and the remaining in urban areas.

The Census office follows its own methodology of classification which does not always harmonise with other authorities, or with common sense. For instance, urban Delhi is divided into New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC), the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and several census towns which would actually come under the jurisdiction of MCD.

These were created as categories many decades ago, but continue as units even now.

Bidhan Nagar, Panchkula and SAS Nagar were the top three cities, in that order, in the 2001 Census too. They are urban areas that evolved as hubs of the educated middle class in the 1980s and 1990s.

Both Bidhan Nagar and Panchkula house a large number of state government offices and institutions, with their employees staying nearby.

In 2001, again because of a Census office peculiarity, NDMC was broken up into several parts and counted as separate units. This led to four of these parts figuring in the top 10. This time round, NDMC has been aggregated into one unit, and it comes in at the tenth spot.

Gurgaon was placed at the 15th spot and Noida at 14th in 2001. Both have since moved into the top 10, pushing NDMC behind. Two cities from Uttarakhand, its capital Dehradun and the educational hub Roorkee, have moved up into the top rankings. Dehradun became the capital in 2001, drawing within it an explosion of government employees, besides being a base of several institutions since the British times.

Roorkee’s famous engineering college was upgraded to a fullfledged IIT in 2001. Both Dehradun and Roorkee are major Army cantonments too.

So where are the big metropolises of India in this ranking? Delhi is divided into several smaller units. Many of Delhi’s Census towns, surprisingly, are near the bottom of the list. The reason is that these areas — like Sultanpur Majra, Mustafabad, Kirari, Bhalaswa Jehangirpuri — are populated by the working class and poorer sections of Delhi. The share of graduates and above in their populations is between 5 and 6%.

Chennai clocks in at number 53, with about 24% of its population graduates or above, Kolkata at 79 with 22%, and Greater Mumbai at 192 with about 19% graduates and above. At the very bottom of the ranking are small towns, mostly with industrial populations. The five cities with the least number of graduates are Jamuria and Dabgram, suburbs of Asansol and Siliguri, respectively, in West Bengal, and Bhiwandi (Maharashtra), Loni (UP) and Botad (Gujarat), all industrial townships. Loni is on the outskirts of Delhi.