Jharkhand celebrates its 16th foundation day on Sunday, sitting on the crossroads of important changes with a majority-on-its-own government for the first time after years of political instability which saw nine governments and five chief ministers besides President’s rule thrice.
Raghubar Das’s is the 10th government and he is the sixth CM with the ninth governor in office since Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar.
The unstable spell had seen political chicanery at its best with father swapping minister son’s portfolio when he went to jail and an independent legislator Madhu Koda creating the national record of the longest-serving independent chief minister.
There are also the other firsts — a first woman and a tribal as the governor in Draupadi Murmu and the first non-tribal chief minister at the helm and the governments of same hue at the Centre and state.
But the present does not make up for the decades lost due to the sheer lack of political will. The political combine has failed to sort out the vexatious issue of domicile which flares up from time to time disturbing peace and harmony.
Absence of an employment policy for the indigenous populace in group C and D of state jobs have kept recruitments on hold in many departments. Elected panchayats completed a full five-year term without power, para teachers were running state schools for the last fifteen years. Social indicators like healthcare is in a limbo, infant and maternal mortality rates are far worse than the national average and gender gap in literacy is shocking.Jharkhand is gifted with rivers and rivulets but still vast swathes of land are parched for want of water. The state has encountered several full and partial droughts in these years yet drought-proofing measures have not been taken as a campaign.
There were more than 40 minor, major irrigation projects, some of them undertaken in 1970s and 80s, still pending. Some of the dams are complete but are dead asset in want of distributor canals. Together these projects were supposed to bring 2.99 lakh hectares under cultivation.
There are problems of resettlement and rehabilitation of about three million people displaced by mega dam projects, industries, mining and defense projects. About 39 percent is below poverty line and Jharkhand owe a debt of Rs 34, 868 crore, as per Jharkhand Economivc Survey, 2014 figures. Maoist insurgency is another outstanding issue which demands attention.
“The state has failed to come up with policy for woman and youth besides agriculture policy. Mega irrigation projects have been a failure and only increased the number of displaced people. It is a matter of government’s will,” said Dayamani Barla, a social activist working for rehab of displaced people.
There are some hits also in the 15-year march.
The state has emerged as pioneer in ‘cage culture’ cultivation in the fisheries and earned prestigious Krishi Karman Award in coarse grain production in the country for the last successive three years. Its achievements in information technology infrastructure and e-governance are unrivalled among Indian States.