The Great Indian Desert or the Thar desert occupies around 4.5percent of the total geographical area of the country and more than 60 percent of the state of Rajasthan. The forest cover in the state of Rajasthan is only 8 percent. All the districts covering the Thar desert have forest area less than the state average. The area is abysmally low in Jaisalmer and Jodhpur (<1%). The population in this region has been increasing at a rate faster than national average. Some of the districts of this region are also characterized by a livestock density that is even higher than population density. This has led to increased pressure on land for food security of the increasing population and fodder security for the livestock. It is important to take into consideration the direction of change in the land uses while formulating policies for sustainable development of the region. It is also important to study the relation between development and desertification. In this study, I have used Markov Chain analysis to study the direction of change of land use.
Further, the development of the Thar Desert Region was analysed from a multidimensional perspective, looking into development from Demographic, Health, Social, Economic and Environmental perspectives. Development indices were worked out for each of these dimensions and a composite development index including all the dimensions was also worked out. The Districts were ranked on the basis of these indices and relevant policy measures suggested for overall development of the region.