Located in India’s south-west, Karnataka is the eighth largest state by area and ninth largest by population. It comprises of three main geographical zones - a coastal region, a hilly region covering the Western Ghats and a region covering plains of the Deccan plateau.
Scheduled castes account for about 17.1 per cent of the population and scheduled tribes constituteseven percent. Less than a quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line andmore than a thirdof people live in urban areas. About 80 per cent of the population is dependent on agriculture, with 65 per cent of the total land area used for agriculture. Forest covers another 20 per cent of the total geographic area.
Gross State Domestic Productwas estimated at about US$58.23 billion in 2008-09 . Since the 1980s, Karnataka has emerged as India’s leading state for IT and leads the nation in biotechnology.
Development in the state is dominated by the urbanized and better performing districts, whose progress masks the poor status of the less urbanised northern region of the state. Performance of these districts is much poorer in the areas of literacy, school enrolment, health, nutrition and household infrastructure. The poor state of transportation and communication infrastructure, a lack of qualified staff and the irregularity and non accountability of bureaucracy are some of the reasons for this situation.
The State Human Development Report in 2005 showed that social indicators of the northern region were comparable to or worse than some of the lowest performing districts of the country’s most challenged states, such as Bihar and Rajasthan. The report has led to new thinking and a reinvigorated focus to address the problems of north Karnataka.