Rajasthan, the largest state in India, started its quest for development with several handicaps and a few advantages. Nearly two-third of its area is arid or semi-arid, with low and irregular rainfall characterised with extremes of climate. For a predominantly agrarian economy these conditions prove a major handicap in ensuring sustainable growth.If geography of the state is proving a stumbling block, its history - especially, recent history - makes the task of sustainable growth all the more daunting. The feudal tendencies had a deep sway over social organisation, which was characterised by hierarchical outlook, paternalistic institutions, low status of women and sharp social and economic discrimination against certain sections of population.The state has some favourable 'initial conditions' as well. Its hardy stock of peasantry is capable of facing adversities. Its agriculture is diversified, with animal husbandry occupying an important place. It has vast mineral resources and enviable tourist potential. Its feudal past has also contributed to the inculcation of values of bravery, fortitude and charity among the people.
Above all, it encouraged spirit of adventure and entrepreneurship.Transforming such a state to a modern, egalitarian and democratic state, and to place it on a path of sustainable development is not easy. The essays in this volume address this task in all its complexities.
Vijay S. Vyas is Professor Emeritus at the Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur. He has a Ph.D in Economics from University of Bombay. His current research interests are public policies for agricultural growth and rural development. Sarthi Acharya was educated at the Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur and Central School of Planning and Statistics, Warsaw. He is a former Director of the Institute of Development Studies, Jaipur.