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Jharkhand after 20 years: Rich state, poor people and a tale of betrayal

Image used for representational purposes only. ( From wikimedia commons)

By Dr. Md Afroz & MD Tabrez Alam, TwoCircles.net

Jharkhand is considered one among the richest states in contemporary India because of its rich mineral resources and historical legacies of the commercial and cultural wealth of the past. Despite having an industrialized 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 has never been fulfilled by any preceding governments. Each party came into power promising to deliver regional aspirations but failed. After 20 years, people of Jharkhand are still struggling for retaining its identity and question of survival. The kept promises have been betrayed 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 the preservation of culture, regional identity, language, lifestyle, socio-economic status. To understand one has to visit the geopolitics of the region. Jharkhand as a separate state came into being on 15 November 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 on, in the 2015-16 year saw a 12.1 per cent growth recorded above on national average 7.6 growths 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 filled by mostly non-Jharkhandi who dominates socio-economic space of the state. The bloomy picture of urban centres filled with upper-middle class pinches 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 of the state is due to the non-development political orientation and ill-informed citizens of this state. The old traditional social structure has not been replaced by citizen-centric political development that is why least interest shown by the state machinery and governance in local development. The politicians take control over the provisions of government inputs rhetorically to keep their interests. While doing so, it mobilizes people calling them to protect their land from outsiders. The CNT Act 1908 and SPT Act 1949 remain the freezing ground of local development. The coalition and opposition have come into confrontational positions citing each other as enemies of the people and obstruction in the development of Jharkhand. There is a huge deficit of trust between people and state, which goes against the development initiatives. The deepening mistrust among different stakeholders narrows the chances of local economic growth and that ultimately puts stress on people of this land who are already facing structural marginalization due to the political crisis in the state.

Where Jharkhandi stands

People of Jharkhand are no doubt living in extreme depravity. Their anxieties, frustration emanate from their collective failures. The overall scenario of the plight of Jharkhandi people in the state is the by-product of the historical development of socio-economic deprivations. There is a slight difference from place to place in terms of degree but the nature of marginalisation remains the same. Post-separation scenarios have a larger implication 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 merely as state agents. In 20 years of governance, regional aspirations have been 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 identified 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 academicians 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 and there is a need to indigenise institutions by filling the vacant post with locals who can serve with humility and conviction. To rectify past mistakes, the Hemant Soren government has to proactively engage and create strong redressal mechanisms in the matter of Jharkhandi concerns.


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. 


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.