Jharkhand after 20 Years

Rich state, poor people and broken promises

Representation Image

Jharkhand is considered one among the richest states in contemporary India because of its rich mineral resources and historical legacies of commercial and cultural wealth of the past. Despite having an industrialised state, it continues to face the challenges of socio-economic deprivation; such as poverty, illiteracy, poor health services and discursive politics.

Jharkhand was separated 20 years ago from Bihar on the pretext of regional development that had been never fulfilled by any preceding governments. Each party came into power promising to deliver regional aspirations and seduced by rhetoric policy populism. After 20 years, Jharkhand is still struggling to retain its identity and question of survival. The kept promises have been broken by all ruling regimes since its formation.

Knowing Jharkhand

Jharkhand has a population of 3.3 Crores, consisting of 26.21 % tribals, 12.08% SCs, and 61.71% others. Around 10% of the population is Bengali speaking and 70% speak various dialects of Hindi. Hinduism is the majority religion with 67.8% followed by Islam by 14.5% and 12.8% Animistic Sarna religion of the population. Whereas Christianity 4.3% and less than 1 % Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism (Census 2011). The history of Jharkhand is full of collective heritage, our history, freedom movement against imperial forces, struggle for preservation of culture, regional identity, language, lifestyle, socio-economic status. To understand one has to visit the geo-politics of the region. Jharkhand as a separate state came into being on November 15, 2000, the day of birth Anniversary of revolutionary leader Birsa Munda as 28th state of Indian Union by state reorganisation act.

The state is famous for its rich mineral resources, and the growth rate of Jharkhand is considered better as compared to other states only Gujarat, Mizoram and Tripura have better performance over 9 percent of it in the financial year 2011-12. Later in 2015-16, 12.1 percent growth was recorded, above the national average 7.6 growth per year (Business Standard, 21 Jan 2017). In the financial year 2017-18 state GSDP has recorded 2.82 lakh crores at current prices (Jharkhand state budget 2017-18).

Despite having so much rich mineral resources and concentration of some big industries like; Bokaro Steel Plant, Tata Steel Plant, Tata Motors, Telcon, Jindal Steel Plant, Electrosteel Plant, HEC, DVC, CCL, BCCL, ECL, HSCL, MECON etc. and cities such as Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Bokaro Steel City and Dhanbad were filled by mostly non Jharkhandis who dominate socio-economic space of the state. The bloomy picture of urban centers filled with upper middle-class pinched Jharkhandis and they felt deceived by their political masters. The fruit of development never reached their plate and the people of this land were forced to migrate in search of better livelihood. 

The important factor of the less developed state of affairs to the state is due to the non-development political orientation and ill-informed citizen of this state. The old traditional social structure has not been replaced by citizen centric political development that is why there is extremely limited interest shown by the state machinery and government in local development.

The politicians used to allegedly take control over the provisions of government inputs to determine their self-interest. While doing so, they mobilise people, calling them to protect their land from outsiders. The CNT Act 1908 and SPT Act 1949 remain, freezing ground of local development. The coalition and opposition have come into a confrontational position citing each other as enemies of the people and obstruction in development of Jharkhand. There is a huge deficit of trust between people and state approaches that goes against the development initiatives. The deepening mistrust among different stakeholders narrowing the chances of local economic growth and that ultimately put stress on people of this land that have already facing structural marginalization due to the political crisis in the state.

Where Jharkhandis stand

Jharkhandis are no doubt living in extreme depravity, their anxieties, frustration are emanating from their collective failures. The overall scenario of the plight of Jharkhandi people in the state are the by-product of historical development of socio-economic deprivations. There is slight difference from place to place in terms of degree but nature of marginalisation remains same. Post separation scenarios have larger implications on community social life. The community issues have become unidirectional surpassing all regional identities, although there are many more complexities in terms of their heterogeneity. There are much more differences in social life ranging from class, caste, culture and regionalism. Ironically, Jharkhandi’s life remains the same as before in undivided Bihar.

What needs to be done?

Jharkhandi people are deceived by their own representatives, they act as merely state agents. In 20 years of governance regional aspirations bluntly bypassed because of adhoc government. There is huge expectation attached to the present government because of its championing of Jharkhandi identity.

A strong government identifies with good governance which takes responsibility with accountability. In this sense with swift response to delivering citizens services and transparent administrative systems, the State must take responsibility for community development and must engage with civil society, intellectuals, activists and academician and professional social workers for safeguarding inclusive development.

On the matter of progress, lack of education is the most devastating cause of backwardness. This is because state institutions are either ill-structured or controlled by outsiders, there is a need to indigenise institutions by filling vacant posts with locals who can serve with humility and conviction. To rectify past mistakes, Hemant Soren’s government has to proactively engage and create strong redressal mechanisms in the matter of Jharkhandi concerns.

*Dr Md Afroz teaches Political Science and Public Administration at Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU)

MD Tabrez Alam, is a Doctoral Scholar at the Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi.



Jharkhand Adivasis celebrate Birsa Munda Jayanti on Jharkhand formation day




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