The population of the slum in Kathputhli is mainly inhabited by the low-caste sweepers, rag-pickers, artisans and general labourers, who have migrated from rural areas to a more urban setting.
The main pull for these people to urban areas is the hope of better jobs, higher pay, modern housing and an upgrading of their lifestyle from rural workers to middleclass landowners, enjoying the benefits of life in a globalised world.
The dynamics of urban poverty in India's cities results in a growth rate in slum areas whilst people move to a city and get established. Some people manage to find work, save money and relocate to more promising residential areas, other tend to get caught in the cycle of urban slum dwelling and squatting in various locations.
Kathputhli dwellers are normally migrants from Rajasthan rural areas and there is a strong cottage industry within the slums of puppet making. Local artisans, some of them itinerant puppet performers, have settled in the area to continue making puppets, performing shows and selling their handiwork to tourists and the large number of wealthy people who site see around Jaipur.
The Kathputhli slum is noteworthy because the housing structures there are mainly semi-permanent. And it is now legally considered to be a colony, rather than a "slum" which generally denotes illegal squatters. Constructed of claybrick, cow dung and concrete. A few of the informal canteens and tea stalls have access to mains power and water. The development level of the slum matches the early stages of the residential areas of Maharashtra's Ichalkaranji, which started off as a more informal sqautter community before the graduation to land rights, water, electricity and permanent housing took place.
There is only one development agency working in Kathputhli, which is the Helping Hand Society Jaipur, providing vocational training and education to the unskilled of the population in sewing and tailoring, shoemaking, computer literacy, English language, general deportment and gradual exposure to amenities associated with modern urban living.
Kathputhli is generally a colourful place with men sitting around playing cards, children picking papers and chasing animals or playing, and women industriously packaging firewood for sale or scrap for recycling merchants who pay by the kilogram for anything of value.