What Ails Jharkhand?
the foremost challenge the ‘Land of forests’ faces and is also the major reason for political instability is the rule by a coalition government, where there is ‘Monosyllabic government’ with ‘Polych-romic ideologies’
The Bihar Reorganization Bill led to the creation of Jharkhand, India’s 28th state, on November 15, 2000 on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the legendary Birsa Munda. The idea behind the very creation of the new state was that small states can be better governed and better uses their natural resources for development. The growth of Jharkhand’s industrial profile, with a near 9 percent growth, provided a testimony to the idea. However, governance remained a casualty. Jharkhand in the 14 years of its existence has witnessed eight governments under four chief ministers. The persisting political instability has been a dent on the tremendous potential of the state and its ability to find an answer to the Naxal menace which has impacted on its economic growth. Whether the ongoing elections to the state assembly would provide a solution to the state’s endemic problem, thus, is a key question.
Jharkhand is a very diverse state. The society here is divided along various religious, indigenous and geographic lines. This result in split verdicts and the poll results are such that no single party is able to muster a majority. Thus the foremost challenge the ‘Land of forests’ faces and is also the major reason for political instability is the rule by a coalition government, where there is ‘Monosyllabic government’ with ‘Polychromic ideologies’. Here lies the problem. The opportunistic politics showcasing coalition dharma brings in the political instability, which makes the government weak, policies indefinite, prime minister weak, administration inefficient and planning short termed.
Every regional and national political party in the state wants to have a ‘Sip of the Jharkhandi Sap’, which is not practical. Thus, the C.M finds himself in a continuous soup of losing chair with the fall of government. Similar thing happened in the state last year. There were instances when BJP and JMM entered into a pact of rotational Chief Ministership at the state, meaning that both the parties will rule for 28 months each. Wherefore BJP denied any such pact when the time was ripe for JMM. This angered JMM and it took back its support putting BJP-led government into minority. Thus, every now and then, these parties show their tantrums in the form of bargain politics giving state frequent nightmares.
Therefore, the government has failed to act freely and the governance has languished with unprecedented problems. As first phase of assembly election began on 25 November, it is imperative to analyse the agenda before the new government in Ranchi that will re-establish the faith in the principle. Small states can indeed be better governed. Thus seeing the pitfalls of the previous governments, the incumbent government would like to consider the following.
The term ‘sustainable development’ means development which not only addresses the present but also keeps in mind the progeny. Therefore, Jharkhand’s need of the hour is ‘sustainable governance’ which is not only cognizant of the present challenges faced with all round development of the state and its people, but which foresees the future challenges and addresses them effectively and efficiently. If the fruits of governance are to reach to the people, more and more devolution of power to the people has to be achieved without fail.
Local self government in itself is the primary school of democracy. It encourages people’s participation, because people at the grassroots level show their full interests in the administration and their cooperation is enhanced. Before arriving at any decision, they can well appreciate their problems more realistically and therefore, can ensure that efficiency takes place in administration of their decision. It also reduces the workload of the provincial government. No doubt, the adoption of the 73rd and 74th Constitutional Amendments and Panchayat Extension to Schedule Area Act (PESA) in the state has proved to be a good measure. Panchayat elections in Jharkhand held after a gap of more than 30 years are a case in point. But still much is left to be desired in this regard specially by way of delegation of powers, both administrative and financial to its functionaries. Hence local self governance deserved to be made more practical.
Left-wing extremists in the state have emerged as a major security problem. However, these Naxals should not be seen as suspects; rather they must be listened to and called for effective discourse. Moreover, they must also be encouraged to participate in the governmental process, by giving them representations, no matter whatever may be the basis for such representation. Because somewhere, deep within the corner of their heart, a chasm has been carved out by the destiny and therefore, they are finding themselves on edge and have turned hostile towards the government. For enduring solution in democracy, the dialogue is the only option.
Bureaucracy in Jharkhand, amidst the myopic political masters, hardly seems under the control of government, rather it appears to dominate the government corridor. The tiff between the political masters and the permanent executive has been the order of the day. Otherwise, they are alleged to be working hand in glove with their political masters to share the booty. Red tapism is getting entrenched deeper and deeper pushing the state of Jharkhand, a surplus budget state on the eve of its inception, to the brink of development with huge budgetary deficit. The tyranny of bureaucracy has to be tamed effectively, so that the government could act transparent, responsible and responsive to people.
Even the welfare schemes provided by the upcoming government under various policies being undertaken by the central or the state governments, must be set a relatively shorter time-frame lest procrastination leading to development of vested interests will forestall those schemes to ever reaching fruition. The upcoming government must take this seriously with priority, otherwise, very soon our conditions will turn no different from that of the former USSR. Therefore, it is high time to implement the Jharkhand’s own version of glasnost and perestroika.
Last but not the least, state of Jharkhand, under the stewardship of its upcoming Chief Minister must rise above the parochialism of the yore’s and focus upon the stark reality of development with humane face. This time even “the people of Jharkhand” are required to rise above caste, religion and language and vote for a candidate worth the post and one who is visionary. For the futures to come even the young generation must come up in politics with new and enlightened ideas, giving first preference to the state agenda and work for the real good of all including him or her.
Thus to be precise these serious measures are to be warranted in order to tame the decline Jharkhand governance has reached. The state leaders need to change their mindsets and a preference, as they are the ones who have to man the public services, an important indicator of good governance. With amassing challenges, establishing good governance in Jharkhand is not something which would resemble a ‘low hanging fruits of a tree’. To overpower the hindrances, good governance must become an obsession for the leaders of the state. The governance must undergo transformation from being controller of the enterprise to its facilitator.
By Saneya Arif