Dr. Md Afroz & Md Tabrez
The formation of Jharkhand on the pretext of development and change in the life of local people was actually a political gimmick to encash the euphoric regional sentiments for power. The ruling national parties used to retreat in policy matters that threatens their political stability in the changing political atmosphere due to the rise of regional parties conditioned to regional movements. Jharkhand is one of the best examples of this flimsy politics where national parties retain their political bases through championing stands, be it preservation of regional identity or development agenda altogether rhetorically used to seduce masses and to become the region’s emerging powers.
Rich State Poor People
Jharkhand, a tribal dominated state with 32.96 million populations scattered in 79,110 sq. Km area, has rich mineral resources. The Gross State Domestic product (GSDP) is 3.28 lakh crore in the year of 2019-20, and per capita income is 79,873 rupees as per government data. It has 40 percent of mineral resources in the country alone where it retains the position of being the sole producer of coking coal, uranium and pyrite. It ranks 1st in the production of coal, mica, kainite and copper in India. It produces approximately 25 percent of steel in the country. This is why the state becomes the vanguard of industrialization among Indian states. It has a wide range of industrial plants, both public undertakings and private enterprises.
Despite all this, Jharkhand still remains one of the poorest Indian states along with Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh where more than half of India’s poor populace lives (Indian Express Report). According to the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) based on 10 indicators–health, education, standard of living nutrition, child mortality, years of schooling, school attendance, access to cooking fuel, sanitation, drinking water, electricity, housing and assets: on all these parameters the state miserably failed to deliver sustainable growth through its policies & programmes.
The Tragedy of Development
If we go through the literal meaning of development, it is a process that creates growth, progress, positive change in physical, economic, environment, social and demographic status of a region. The purpose of development is to raise the level of quality life of the population and the creation of local regional income and employment opportunities without damaging the resources of the environment. The purpose of creating the separate state of Jharkhand was regional development and it came into being on 15 November 2000 after a century-old demand articulated by the people of this land.
The dilemma of development has been: developmental projects promtoted in the name of change in people’s lives which resulted in displacement of people most in need of protection. One can trace history and see the many forms of systematic marginalisation of the Jharkhandi people’s rights over natural resources. The land, nature, forests and water belong to them and several policies and laws have been passed over decades to protect the rights of the Jharkhandis.
In the name of development, it is counted as one of the backward and ailing states of the country. Not only this, India’s largest tribal-dominated state is also covered by forests. The only means of a tribal’s livelihood is forest wealth. But, due to its lack of right policies, there is a loss in both environment and economic resources. At the same time it has had a negative effect on the livelihood of the tribals. While on one hand you have deforestation, on the other hand, the land of the tribals is being snatched.
Land is needed for industrialisation, urbanisation or some public purposes. Acquiring land for development projects without providing for resettlement violates the basic rights of the tribal people. Displacing the tribal people without providing for their resettlement deprives them of their basic right of occupation of their land which results in several problems like deprivation of their means of livelihood, migration to other places in search of work and living in poor conditions there. All of this just goes to show that displacement worsens the existing position of the people. Since the need to provide special protection to the tribals has been recognized it would be an irony that when they are made to sacrifice to contribute for national development, their rights are completely violated and they are deprived of even their due basic rights.
Forced displacement of these communities has caused them to relocate to unfamiliar and hostile environments, away from their traditional habitats. The process of forced displacement has increased their vulnerability to exploitation, pushing them to poverty, chronic malnourishment, starvation and ill health, including serious psychological trauma. In the absence of adequate access to the forests, Adivasi and other communities are deprived of their food security and diversity, livelihood security, which inevitably results in poor health outcomes. The poor access to medical care, the impact of extraction and other industries affecting the environment, further exacerbates the poor health conditions. Not only does it impact their livelihoods, health, but also widens the existing gap of health inequities among Adivasi communities.
Despite holding 40 percent of India’s mineral wealth, economic development of the state has not been sufficient to trickle down to the people in need. The poverty level in Jharkhand, as measured by the Tendulkar Committee, is one of the highest amongst all large states with high levels in both rural and the urban parts. However, special efforts need to be taken by Jharkhand and the Central Government to overcome this shortage and damage. While implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030, the Niti Aayog should also make efforts to ensure that the entire country and not only Jharkhand benefits from proper consumption of available natural resources.
The way forward
Development is an essential tool for the up-gradation of people’s lives. It requires land for building industries, communications, civil infrastructure and services that obviously need land acquisition from citizens. Land is the traditional source of their livelihood means. Jharkhand is a emerging state having a large number of SCs & STs and OBCs whose socio-economic conditions are below par. Any development initiative without their consideration would meet the same fate as Nandigram of West Bengal. There is a need for appropriate legislations and provisions to safeguard the rights and development of local people. It is necessary to uplift their socio-economic conditions by providing reasonable compensation and livelihood means, especially to the tribes by diversifying resources for reducing poverty and socio-economic deprivation.
B K Thakur Journal of Economic & Social Development, Vol. – X, No. 2, December 2014
https://www.livemint.com/Specials/bqVly6xj4usB3DiTibS3DK/Spatial-poverty-in-Jharkhand.html Accessed on 22-11-2020
Dr Md Afroz, teaches Political Science & Public Administration @MANUU. he has obtained MPhil, PhD from Jamia Millia Islamia. His interest lies in: federalism, ethnic conflict, Nation-building, democratic decentralization and governance. For more info. firstname.lastname@example.org Follow @khwajaAfrozSidd
MD Tabrez Alam, Doctoral Scholar @ Indian Institute of Dalit Studies, New Delhi. As a researcher, the quest for knowledge begins from the fieldwork. Currently, he is working on urban inequality and housing segregations in newly developed township India. For more info. email@example.com Follow @ktabrezshams