Located in north-western India, Rajasthan is the country’s largest state by area. At 342,239 km, it encompasses 11 per cent of the total geographical area of the country. Along with this large area comes a wide and diverse topography: rolling sand dunes, fertile plains, rocky, undulating regions and even some forested areas. Still, a large proportion of the state is arid, and Rajasthan is home to India’s biggest desert, the Thar.
The largest state in India by geographical area, Rajasthan, has seen significant pace of poverty rate reduction from 34 per cent in 2005 to 15 per cent in 2012 (Tendulkar Committee Report 2013) despite rural poverty rate remaining higher than urban poverty.
Disparities continue to exist on most socio-economic indicators, concentrating primarily in western desert districts and tribal dominated southern districts.
The state is home to more than 68 million people, almost 50 per cent of whom are under the age of 18 years (2011 census). It is predominantly rural, with 75 per cent of its population living in villages. More than 30 per cent of its population belongs to scheduled castes (17.8 per cent) and scheduled tribes (13.5 per cent).
Over recent decades, successive Rajasthan governments have shown a commitment to address the state’s many development concerns, especially those of children, adolescents and women. They have instituted the Girl Child Policy of 2012, to ensure the survival, growth and development and empowerment of girls, and have taken a lead in child labour programmes through a rare initiative to raise the bar on child labour from 14 to 18 years.
Rajasthan has been at the forefront of India’s economic reforms and is now among the country’s six fastest-growing states. Its main economy is agriculture, but industrial sectors such as textiles and vegetable oil and dye production also contribute significantly to the state’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Rajasthan has a thriving tourism industry thanks to its reputation at the “Land of Kings”. A strong royal past has left the state with many centuries-old palaces and princely estates to visit. Tourism accounts for 15 per cent of Rajasthan’s economy.