India has one of the highest percentages of rural population in the world with almost 70% of the country living outside developed towns and cities. With 29 states and 7 union territories, India is an amalgamation of variety in terms of demographics, rural and urban lifestyles and cultures. Where does Karnataka stand?
In Karnataka, the largest state in South India in terms of area, 61% of the population live in rural areas. [i] Most rural dwellers are farmers by occupation, while other occupations like silk farming, weaving and craft making are also found. Karnataka’s plateau terrain, tropical climate and predominantly red soil is ideal for a variety of crops; rice, ragi, jowar and bajra being most abundant.
The map shows the districts in the state the distribution of population. Note how the Bangalore region is most dense, followed by Belgaum, while areas like Hasan, Bidar and Chikmagalur have a fairly sparse population. [ii]
What is the architecture in rural Karnataka like? Hand-made mud walls reinforced with sticks and coconut palms with thatched roofs is seen in the poorest of villages. The use of sun-baked mud blocks and clay tiled roofs are seen in other villages who have improved their lifestyles and have slowly incorporated the construction methods and materials of the towns and cities.
A research conducted on the sanitation of each state shows Karnataka in quite a pitiful condition. The study shows the percentage of rural households with toilets and the differences seen over the past decade. Despite an improvement from 18% to 28% in 2011, Karnataka still stands below the all-India average of 31%.[iii]
Karnataka is in need of a lot of improvement. Despite the aid of the government and many non-government organizations, impact is marginal and change is slow.
Over the next few weeks, blog posts about a few rural projects will give you an insight of what is happening in rural Karnataka.