When the people of Jharkhand fought for a separate state, their goal was liberty and greater control on their lives. But ironically, the formation of Jharkhand has, over the years, given greater control to their oppressors and consolidated the hold of corrupt politicians, industrialists and contractors on the masses. It is even more unfortunate that the leaders who were at the forefront of the liberation movement have turned into oppressors.
With eight Chief Minister changes and thrice president’s rule, the state remains a political horror. In this viscus cycle of mafia rule and breakdown of governance, the state’s resources are today in control of this criminal nexus, and the people there have started to accept this without protesting. This speaks in great deal about their dis-empowerment. Even if the people want to protest, they are too afraid of the harassment that follows. The basic needs of the people are not being met. Except a few exceptions, there is no democracy in any meaningful sense.
While the popular belief remains that Jharkhand is held back by excessive controls and government interference, the fact is, that Jharkhand is an economy where almost anything can be bought and sold without restriction – from votes, to contracts, to bureaucrats. The flag bearers of FDI and privatization may note that the public sector in Jharkhand has already been ‘privatized’. It is almost entirely run by private contractors and middlemen. As a result of this private plunder of public resources, Jharkhand has become a living hell. This has also increased naxalism in the state. When people are constantly exploited by local officers, and the naxals offer to protect them, they are left with no choice. The solution to Jharkhand remains in restoration of the constructive role of the state in the economy.
Jharkhand, more than any other state in India, is an ideal ground for productive work. From huge mining potential and industrial requirements, to smaller projects like building and cleaning ponds, wells, check-dams, making rural roads, land leveling, tree plantation – Jharkhand is a paradise for NREGA. The people of Jharkhand have excellent technical skills and a strong tradition of collective action, especially in tribal areas. However, in order to get the spirit of Jharkhand back in place, the first and foremost requirement is the restoration of democracy. When the political leaders will be accountable to the people, they would try to make things work. A stable, and people friendly governance, one that respects the tribals, is the first step.