Karnataka is a state of diverse cultures, languages and faiths. The social and economic scenario in the state is marked by a lot of regional disparities. The state has 30 districts and 176 Taluks. Based on the physiographic features the state is divided in to four natural regions – The Coastal Region, The Western Ghats or Malnad Region, the Southern Plateau and the Northern Plateau region.
Karnataka is one of the major states of South India and the eight largest state in India in terms of population. According to the population census of 2001, the population of Karnataka was 52.73 million and has increased 17.20% as compared to the last census of India in 1991. The state of Karnataka is ranked ninth in terms of population in India. It is also one of the top states in terms of literacy rate in India. Bangalore is the top city with a population of over 1 million. The current Population of Karnataka in 2010 to be estimated at 52,850,562 out of 26,898,918 (50.89%) are males and 25,951,644 (49.11%) are females. The sex ratio of Karnataka is 965 females per 1000 males. As per the 2001 census data the sex ration of the children below 0-6years is declined to 946 females to 1000 males.
[spoiler]Agriculture is the backbone of the people in Karnataka and is characterized by wide crop diversification. The state has 66% of rural population and 56% of the workers have been classified under the cultivators and agricultural laborers as per 2001 census. Currently, the marginalized sections of the community are not in a position to afford their food due to inflation. The northern Karnataka regions are facing draughts and floods. Most of the people become homeless due to floods in Gulbarga, Raichur, Koppal and Bellary districts. Due to the draught situation in north east Karnataka most of the people migrate to Maharashtra, Hyderabad and also to the south Karnataka in search of employments. The inappropriate implementation of the government programme MNREGA in the state also resulted to the prevalence of poverty situation.
The government of Karnataka confiscated land from most of the marginalized tribal groups and agrarian communities for the creation of special economic zones in the state. These unorganized groups depend on agriculture and now have been rendered landless. Their families are now in crisis. Even some of the economic development programmes of the state government have continuously hindered the growth of the citizens in the state. The status of poor remains the same.
The literacy rate in Karnataka has increased to 66.64% as per the 2001census data. The dropout rate of girls and boys in South Karnataka is much lower than North Karnataka. In the rural areas as per census data the male literacy rate is 70.5% and the female literacy rate is 48.0%. This data elucidates the prevalence of gender disparities in the education sector. The low female literacy rate in Karnataka, as in the rest of India, is a visible manifestation of gender bias and patriarchal implications. Religion, caste, class and geographical factors are other sources of inequality.
Infant and child mortality may be considered as the most sensitive indicator of not only a nation’s socio-economic development but also of the public health services. As per the Human Development Index Report the infant mortality rate in Karnataka is 52 per thousand live births (SRS 2003) and Maternal Mortality rate in Karnataka is 195. The leading causes of maternity deaths in Karnataka are anaemia, abortion, sepsis and haemorrhage. This is mainly due to the women’s lack of control over their reproduction, poverty, under nutrition and also lack of accessibility to both ante and post-natal cares. The Community Health Centres and Primary Health Centres do not provide good health facilities.
Access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation impacts not only on poverty and health indicators but also has critical gender implications in terms of women’s work and health. In Karnataka the most vulnerable groups suffer from lack of potable water and lack of basic sanitation facilities. Most rural areas in Karnataka are not covered under the Total Sanitation Programme. Due to the high level of corruption at every level, the poor find it difficult to assert their rights. Most of the powerful people in the society impose injustice on the marginalized and vulnerable groups who are oppressed in the name of gender, caste, class and religion.
Looking at the larger agenda of the Karnataka government, it is very evident that it is not pro- poor. Everywhere it is the powerful people who propose the capitalist idea, which leads to an imbalance in the economic and social lives of the poor people.