ECONOMY OF RAJASTHAN
Rajasthan is one of the least densely populated states in India. It is also one of the poorest states with low per capita income and low literacy rate especially in women. Rajasthan's gross state domestic product for 2004 is estimated at $33 billion in current prices. Unemployment and Poverty is widespread, state count among BIMARU (Sick) states. Rajasthan is promoting Cultural & Heritage Tourism, at this time this service sector holds maximum potential for employment and revenue earning. Many of the old Palaces and Havalies have been converted into hotels. With hitting of oil in Thar Desert, industrialisation of desert part will be rapid. The state’s economy largely depends on agriculture, industries, natural resources and tourism.
Agriculture in Rajasthan
Rajasthan's economy is primarily agricultural and pastoral. Rajasthan’s western region is filled with desert lands and the environment here is semi-arid. But the eastern part of the state has many rivers and there is more rain; hence suitable for farming. In past days, agriculture was a risky affair for the people and they used to farm animals for milk. Now the state has been benefited by the “White Revolution” to great extent.
Rajasthan is a state where 80% of the people depend on agriculture. The rural economy of Rajasthan are largely depends on farming. The total cultivable area in the state is 257 lakh hectares. The estimated food grain production of Rajasthan is 173 lakh tones. Wheat and barley are cultivated over large areas, as are pulses, sugarcane, and oilseeds. Cotton and tobacco are cash crops in Rajasthan. Rajasthan is among the largest producers of edible oils in India and the second largest producer of oilseeds. Rajasthan is also the biggest wool-producing state in India. There are mainly two crop seasons. The major crops sown during the months of June-July and harvested in Sep-Oct are bajra, Jowar, Pulses, maize and ground nut. Main Rabi crops for which sowing operations start during Oct-Nov and harvested in March-April include wheat, barley, pulses, gram and oil seeds. Among oil seeds, rape and mustard is the most important in Rajasthan. Cultivation of vegetable and citrus fruits in Rajasthan such as orange and malta have also picked up over the last couple of years. Other crops of Rajasthan are red chillies, mustard, cumin seeds, methi and hing. The water for irrigation in Rajasthan comes from wells and tanks. The Indira Gandhi Canal irrigates northwestern Rajasthan. The total irrigation potential of the state is about 48 lakh hectares. Rajasthan buys about half of its power from neighbouring states. The old methods of ploughing in Rajasthan are still continuing by using camels and buffaloes. Nowadays farmers are using tractors for this purpose. The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides has increased the crop productivity and now Rajasthan is self sufficient in the production of food grains.
Industries in Rajasthan
The industrialization of Rajasthan slowly began in 1960s. Major industries are textiles and woollens, sugar, cement, glass, sodium plants, oxygen, zinc, water and electricity metres, synthetic yarn and insulating bricks. Precious and semi-precious stones, caustic soda and tyres are other important industrial units.
Textiles - Rajasthan is the second largest producer of polyester fibre in India. Bhilwara District produces more cloth than Bhiwandi in Maharashtra. Small-scale industrial units numbering over 2 lakhs, have created an employment potential for over 8 lakh people.
Mining in Rajasthan
Rajasthan is pre-eminent in quarrying and mining in India. Rajasthan is a mineral rich state with rich deposits of zinc concentrates, emerald, garnet, gypsum, silver ore and mica. Rajasthan is also abounds in salt and red sandstone deposits. The first Export Promotion Industrial park of the country has been established and made operational at Sitapur. There is a Zinc smelter plant at Devari (Udaipur), copper plant at Khetri Nagar (Jhunjhunu) and a precision instrument factory at Kota providing employment to many. The state is the second largest source of cement. It has rich salt deposits at Sambhar, copper mines at Khetri and zinc mines at Dariba, Zawar mines at Zawarmala for zinc, rampura aghucha (opencast) near Bhilwara.
Dimensional stone mining is also undertaken in Rajasthan: Jodhpur sandstone in Rajasthan is mostly used in monuments, important buildings, residential buildings, etc. This stone is termed "chittar patthar" in Rajasthan.
Tourism in Rajasthan
Tourism makes a large contribution to the economy of Rajasthan in India. Recent hike in the figures of tourists to Rajasthan in India has proved that tourism is a vital source of income for the state of Rajasthan. One may not forget that many heritage hotels (old forts and palaces) all over Rajasthan are being run successfully for handsome amount of money and the considerable amount of tax being paid to the state government support the local economy and people of Rajasthan which would have not been possible without the tourists visiting to Rajasthan. A recent study showed that from every single tourist around 13 people profits directly or indirectly. Local transporters, hotels, shopkeepers, monuments, museums, guide and tour operators are just a few who survive through tourists. If proper efforts are taken, then 30% of the total population of Rajasthan can live from tourism. Rural tourism of Rajasthan could bring enormous wealth to the villages of Rajasthan.
Great Indian Bustard endowed with natural beauty and a great history, tourism is flourishing in Rajasthan. The palaces of Jaipur, lakes of Udaipur, and desert forts of Jodhpur, Bikaner & Jaisalmer in Rajasthan are among the most preferred destination of many tourists, Indian and foreign. Tourism accounts for eight percent of Rajasthan’s domestic product. Many old and neglected palaces and forts have been converted into heritage hotels. Tourism has increased employment in the hospitality sector. A spin-off of tourism has been the growth of the handicrafts industry in Rajasthan.
Wildlife in Rajasthan
Rajasthan is immensely rich in wildlife.
Bharatpur Bird sanctuary (Keoladeo National Park) and Ranthambore Tiger Reserve of Rajasthan are among the best and most popular in the world. Desert National Park and Sariska Tiger Reserve are two other important among the many others wilderness areas in Rajasthan.
It must be added that this is merely a sketch of the prominent biodiversity of Rajasthan the water lily and lotus, looper caterpillar and dung beetle, viper and cobra to name a few of the good variety, they all part of the rich natural heritage of Rajasthan.