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Rajasthan - Economy

Rajasthan encompasses a wide range of livelihoods. The State is home to, on one hand, prosperous “Green Revolution” peasantry in Ganganagar, and, on the other hand, subsistence farmers in Dholpur. Other contrasts are between the small artisans engaged in traditional crafts and the trading empires of the Marwari community, as well as the nomadic herders of sheep and camel to the dairy producers relying on stall-fed milk cattle.

Major crops of Rajasthan are rice, barley, jowar, millet, maize, gram, wheat, oilseeds, pulses, cotton and tobacco. Other crops are red chillies, mustard, cumin seeds, methi and hing. Cultivation of vegetable and citrus fruits such as orange and malta has also picked up over the last few years. other crops are red chillies, mustard, communised, methi and hing.

Farmers operate at different levels of endowment, technology, inputs and market access. Thus, while in districts such as Ganganagar, Bharatpur, Dausa and Sawai Madhopur farmers may achieve bumper harvests year after year, in southern and parts of western Rajasthan, even with normal rainfall, the household production is barely enough for subsistence.

Major industry of the state are textiles and woolens, sugar, cement, glass, sodium plants, oxygen, vegetable dyes, pesticides, zinc, fertiliser, railway wagons, ball bearings, water and electricity meters, sulphuric acid, television sets, synthetic yarn, polished and unpolished precious and precious stones and insulating bricks etc. Besides these caustic soda, nylon and tyre cords are also produced. There are important Central Undertakings like zinc smelter plant in Dehari, copper plant at Khetri-Jhunjhunu and precision factory at Kota. The first Export Promotion Industrial Park of the country has been established in this state at Sitapura (Jaipur) area.

This state has rich mineral deposit. Major minerals are zinc concentrates, emerald, garnet, gypsum, silver ore, asbestos, felspar and mica. Zinc concentrates, gypsum, silver ore, asbestos and felspar accounts the major share of country's total production. The state has also rich deposits of salt, rock, phosphate, marble and red-stone.

Rajasthan’s growth rates in Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) compare favorably with the national averages, although there has been some slippage over time. In the 1980s Rajasthan had the highest GSDP growth rates in the country, while in the 1990s, partly due to higher decadal growth rates in population, its rank has dropped to fourth place.

Analysis of trends in the composition of Net State Domestic Product (NSDP) and of the employment profile of the State indicates the need to diversify employment structure. There is an urgent need to redress the gap between the stagnant agricultural sector, which continues to employ the largest proportion of workforce, and the more dynamic services sector, which accounts for only a small percentage of employment. Present trends could lead to a situation of “jobless growth”. The low share (7.5 percent) of industry in employment means that industrial backwardness persists. There is an increase in the share of agricultural labor in total agricultural employment due to lack of other income opportunities for cultivators.

The class-size distribution of landholdings is highly skewed: 50 percent of total number of landholdings are marginal or small, measuring less than two hectares in size. These cover only 10 percent of total area under cultivation. The poor quality of land and the scarcity of water resources for irrigation are additional constraints even for holdings that are larger in size. Thus, land inequality is compounded by ecological fragility.

Rajasthan is famous internationally for its traditional craftsmanship in leather goods. Along with textile products, gems & jewellery, leather products (such as jutis, mojris and bags) are important earners of revenue for the State and income for its artisans. However, the growth prospects of the leather sub-sector, which employs over 200,000 people, are constrained due to poor technology, lack of infrastructure and appropriate linkages with markets.

The leather sub-sector, which traditionally catered to rural demand for durable footwear, has witnessed growth in the urban markets, largely due to demand for jutis, leather bags and related products. Interventions such as Operation Mojari and technical assistance provided by the National Leather Development Programme have contributed to this growth. Current marketing interventions need to go beyond the “boutique” approach and evolve a strategy to cover all producers, especially in the upstream areas of flaying and tanning. However, this sub-sector faces a paradoxical situation. A State which produces the largest number of hides in the country has to rely upon tanned leather from elsewhere for conversion into finished products. A strategy to ensure that value-addition takes place within the state would involve social organisation of flayers and tanners, with proper credit, institutional, marketing and technical support.

Communities that are traditionally connected with leather work have been subject to social discrimination, due to the stigma of ritual pollution that the caste system attaches to these castes. In Rajasthan the main communities engaged in leather work, which are among the poorest, are Regar or Raigar, Khatik, Meghwal, Berwa, Raidas and, in some areas, the Jatavs. Though these communities are spread all over the state, the districts of Jaipur, Sawai Madhopur, Nagaur and Jodhpur have the highest concentration of these communities, which have comparatively a low presence in South Rajasthan.

Although 40 percent of all wool produced in India comes from Rajasthan, the quality of wool is not considered good, and therefore it is used to make carpets and blankets, rather than for garment production. In addition to wool, an estimated 2.5 to 3 million sheep are sold in the mutton market. This region is the primary supplier of mutton to urban markets of northern and western India, and often across the border. Yet, the returns to sheep owners are extremely low. This is largely because the sheep breeders are scattered and organised market yards for sale of wool and mutton do not exist in most parts. For example trading in wool is carried out through middlemen who pay as low as Rs 2 per shearing of sheep.

Milk productivity of cows and buffaloes in Rajasthan is the lowest in the country because of poor breeding and nutritional practices. As a result, while self-consumption of milk if high (and consequently the consumption-based income poverty figures are low), there is little marketable surplus at household level. Commercial dairying in the state is becoming well developed in urban pockets but largely the milk trade is dominated by private milk vendors.

Among several peasant communities of the state, cattle wealth has been a symbol of family status and wealth. The cattle rearing communities include the Gurjars, Dangis, Dhakars and Jats. Rajasthan has highly evolved forms of pastoralism where whole clans and hamlets migrate with their livestock (camels, sheep or goats) to the more green areas of south and eastern Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh.

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Page last modified: 26-02-2018 18:54:29 ZULU