Mumbai is the largest city in India and the 4th most populous city in the world. The metropolitan area of Mumbai has around 20.5 million people. Mumbai was formerly called Bombay.

India Urban Regions

The Location


The Population


The Religion


The Weather

  • India’s noisy, crowded cities are home to about 400 million people, the majority of whom live in conditions of great poverty and need. India busy highway
  • Children in India’s cities find a haven of help, hope and love at their Compassion-assisted child development centers. India girls sitting in church
  • Living in a city slum poses hardships and daunting challenges for children struggling to grow up healthy and happy. India trash near small homes
  • Compassion-assisted children are encouraged to develop a strong, lifelong relationship with God through prayer. India children praying in a group
  • The Compassion program helps make up for any educational deficits that urban children might suffer. India three girls studying
  • Adults work at whatever meager jobs they can find. This man sells peanuts on the roadside. India man with blue cart

Overview: Urban Regions

Only about one-fourth of India’s people live in towns and cities, and more than 4,500 of these locations are classified as urban. India’s teeming cities are a cosmopolitan melting pot of cultures with some of the world’s highest population densities — and these are quickly growing.

Home to many affluent, multinational companies, India’s cities have better overall infrastructure than the villages and smaller towns. And for the country’s rising urban middle class, the cities offer more and better access to quality education, employment, medical care and other services.

Most urbanites are devout Hindus and start each day performing various religious rites. They decorate their doorsteps with religious designs made with rice powder, and they visit the local Hindu temple regularly to worship.

Hinduism is followed by 850 million people globally and more than three-fourths of India’s population. Islam has the next largest number of followers in India — about 13 percent of the total population. Interestingly, India’s Muslim population is larger than that found in any country of the Middle East. Only Indonesia, Pakistan and Bangladesh have more Muslims than India. Christianity is followed by about 2 percent of Indians, and many experts believe that the country of India has the largest number of people who have never heard about God’s Word.


Culture Corner


Try this Indian dish, popular during Pongal, the annual harvest festival.


1 c. rice
1 c. yellow lentils
6 c. water
3 green chilies
¼ inch ginger root
2 tsp. clarified butter
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1 tsp. cumin seeds
Turmeric powder, a pinch
10-15 cashew nuts
Salt to taste


Mix rice and lentils together in a rice cooker. Add water, and steam until rice and lentils are overcooked, mushy in texture. Finely chop green chilies and ginger root. Heat clarified butter, peppercorns and cumin seeds in a frying pan. When the peppercorns burst, add chilies, ginger, turmeric powder and cashews. Remove from heat when the cashews are roasted and add to rice-lentil mixture. Add salt and mix well. Serve hot.


Life in Urban India

About one-third of India’s 1.2 billion people live in urban centers. Many have migrated from their rural villages to the city in the hope of finding a job and a better lifestyle. They typically settle in vast, crowded slums, building makeshift dwellings of whatever scrap materials can be found. In these slums, called bastis, people live in some of the world’s most desperate of conditions.

India’s teeming cities, such as New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata, are melting pots of the country’s diverse population. Here, people representing different ethnicities, languages, dress styles, and customs live side-by-side. The primary religion is Hinduism, although Islam, Buddhism, and other minority religions are also practiced. Christianity is followed by only a small – but growing – percentage of the population.

Children at Home

The homes of poor families in India’s cities are makeshift dwellings of whatever scrap materials can be found. They are crowded together in shantytowns found along the edges of railroad yards and parks, along riverbanks and in other locations where their illegal existence is tolerated by the authorities. These dwellings offer little protection from the elements, and often, a spark from one family’s cooking fire burns down an entire shantytown.


Community Issues and Concerns india urban community

Unlike the middle class, poor migrants to the cities find no opportunities for a better life. Typically, they end up more impoverished than they were in their native villages or towns.

Some share slum flats with other families from “back home” who previously migrated to the city. Others move into the many bastis, clusters of makeshift dwellings, found throughout India’s cities. Still other poor migrants, who do not even have the means to construct a meager dwelling in a basti, live on the streets, constantly in search of any kind of employment.

The rapid influx of people in India’s cities challenges the government’s ability to provide such basic services as safe water and sanitation. The urban bastis are the very picture of suffering and need, especially for the children who call them home. Malnutrition is common, as are diseases caused by the lack of sanitary toilet facilities or by consuming contaminated water.

Local Needs and Challenges

City slum life is particularly hazardous to children. Malnutrition is common, and the lack of access to clean water and sanitary toilet facilities threatens their health every day. Parents of these children simply cannot afford medical care. Opportunities to achieve a good education are also scarce in the slums. Rather than attending school, many children spend their days working, some in dangerous jobs, to earn a little money for their families.


Schools and Education india urban education

The literacy rate in India’s cities is higher than that in the villages and smaller towns. Further, cities like Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai offer world-class education through well-respected colleges and universities.

However, poor urban children more commonly spend the day working and striving to earn a little money to help the family rather than going to school.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Compassion serves children in India’s urban centers through local, church-based child development centers. Here, children have the opportunity to improve their talents and abilities. Their healthy physical growth is assured through nutritious meals, hygiene training, and regular medical checkups. They also learn about their heavenly Father and are introduced to His gift of salvation.


Working Through the Local Church

At Compassion, we believe God’s mandate to serve the world’s poor and oppressed rests on the shoulders of the church. That’s why being “church-based” is an important Compassion distinctive. In other words, Compassion comes alongside local churches, empowering them to carry out God’s mandate to bring real and lasting transformation into the lives of impoverished children. Local churches understand well the challenges of the poor in their communities, as well as the best ways to address those challenges.

For more than 40 years, this unique partnership between Compassion and local Indian churches has been releasing children from poverty and providing them the opportunities they need to grow into happy, healthy, responsible God-honoring adults.

How Compassion Works in India india urban compassion in india

Compassion’s work in India began in 1968. Currently, more than 75,000 children participate in 334 child development centers (not including eastern India).

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide India’s children with a long-term program of physical, educational, social and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and become all that God has created them to be.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are the “face” of Compassion to the local churches that operate our program of holistic child development. In India, these dedicated women and men each work alongside 12 church partners, helping them meet the needs of the children they serve with excellence. Partnership Facilitators also represent the churches’ needs and challenges to the national Compassion office.

A Partnership Facilitator visits each church at least once every three months. Travel to churches in remote areas can be long and difficult. Often, facilitators are away from their families for days at a time. But for India’s Partnership Facilitators, committed to improving their country’s future one child at a time, the effort is more than worthwhile.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray that parents in India’s cities will find adequate, steady employment so that they can support their families.
  • Pray that children will stay in school rather than drop out to work.
  • Pray for the health of children who live in unsanitary city slums.
  • Pray for Compassion center staff members, who diligently strive to meet the needs of the children in their care.