Rajasthan

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Rajasthan

Rajasthan is India's largest state by area. It is located on the north western side of the India, where it comprises most of the wide and inhospitable Thar Desert (also known as the "Rajasthan Desert" and "Great Indian Desert") and shares a border with the Pakistani provinces of Punjab to the northwest and Sindh to the west, along the Sutlej-Indus river valley. Elsewhere it is bordered by five other Indian states: Punjab to the north; Haryana and Uttar Pradesh to the northeast; Madhya Pradesh to the southeast; and Gujarat to the southwest.

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  • The watershed transition from the feudal princely states of Rajputana to the unified, democratic polity of Rajasthan in the late 1940s–early 1950s triggered a process of intense competition between, on the one hand, the challenger Brahmin, Mahajan, and Jat elites who sought to occupy the new ranks of political authority and, on the other hand, the Rajput elites who fought to maintain their traditional dominance. The challenger elites were now all members of the newly founded Congress party but unlike in other parts of India, especially those that were ruled by the British such as UP, the Congress had been established only a few years prior and did not have a strong popular base in the region. In the very first elections in the state in 1951, the challenger elites were caught by surprise by a powerful challenge from the Rajput aristocracy. In an attempt to gain an upper hand in this competition for political power, the Brahmin, Mahajan, and Jat elites found it useful to evoke a superordinate subnational identity. Coming together as “Rajasthani” allowed the challenger elite to present themselves as the legitimate 'modern' leaders of a united, democratic Rajasthan, as opposed to the Rajputs, who were portrayed as embodying narrow, segmented princely state identities and regressive, traditional feudal values.

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