Ranchi: Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar on Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s birthday in 2000. The election season has begun and political parties are campaigning with old and new promises. But the policies of the nine governments, all headed by tribal chief ministers in the last 14 years, have widely been perceived as grossly unfair for the tribals- those in charge of Jharkhand’s destinies have done more harm than good to them.
Here are the biggest issues of the tribal state that remain unaddressed even after 14 years of creation of the state.
None of the governments dared to bring a clear policy on domicile fearing loss of votes. When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar 14 years ago, the tribal locals had a dream to regain their dignity. They had a dream that their aspirations would come to fruition and struggle for self-rule will yield results. The manipulation by Jharkhand’s political class on the domicile policy has led to distrust between the tribal and non-tribal communities.
This state was formed for the welfare of the indigenous tribals. Tribals have their own way of self-rule what one can call rural governance. Panchayats play an important role in such communities so development has to be tribal-centric.
Unfortunately, the methods adopted by governments have been widely considered to be anti-tribal so far. Tribals have been dispossessed of their resources by the state by creating an “illusory perception of development.” Over 7 million people have so far been displaced in Jharkhand in the name of development. Tribals have been the real owners of forests and agricultural lands and giving away their lands to big firms can never be appreciated.
There is loot of natural resources in Jharkhand. It’s the repository of 40 per cent of nation’s minerals but has no clear policies that are acceptable to indigenous tribals as well. From ArcelorMittal, Tata Steel to the Jindal Steel & Power, all have faced massive protests by the locals.
It’s considered that the mineral policy has more to do with profiting large firms. The royalty fixed by the central government for mineral mines is very low, thus benefiting private mining firms than the state.
Language and culture
In the last 14 years, there has been no effort to set up a language academy or an institute for cultural management. Cultural discrimination of tribals by the outsiders, called ‘dikus’, has been one of the major issues among these communities. The indigenous tribes demanded separate statehood to do away with years of injustice.
Political analysts say loss of land would naturally lead to loss of tribal identity. If government bulldozes farms with standing crops to make way for industrialists, it will not solve the purpose of a separate state.
Tribals can’t be called anti-industry or anti-development. They also want development but not at the cost of their rights over natural resources. To avoid unrest, the new government should make a clear stand on displacement and land acquisition.
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