Corruption, instability mark 10 years of Jharkhand

By Nityanand Shukla, IANS
Friday, November 12, 2010

RANCHI - When Jharkhand was carved out of Bihar 10 years ago, there was euphoria that the economically backward region, with a high tribal population, would finally see prosperity. But the state is looking back at a trail of broken promises, political instability and deep-rooted corruption as it completes a decade Nov 15.

Maoist insurgency has spread from eight to 22 districts, there is not a single super speciality hospital in the state, and the literacy rate at 54 percent is far behind the national average of 65 percent.

Around 54 percent of its people are poor. The state produces only half the foodgrains it consumes.

“We don’t have a single thing to boast of in the last 10 years. When Jharkhand was part of Bihar, there were slogans for development. But after its formation, these slogans got lost in the corridors of powers,” said Rama Badaik, a resident of Ranchi. “The migration of the poor continues.”

People say successive governments have failed to meet their aspirations. Particularly bad has been the condition of tribals who form 27 percent of Jharkhand’s 2.75 crore population.

In the 10 years, the state has witnessed eight governments and two spells of President’s Rule. The state now has a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government under Chief Minister Arjun Munda.

The state has always made news for the wrong reasons - instability and corruption.

Babulal Marandi, the first chief minister of Jharkhand, said in 2001: “I do not sleep due to corruption.” But he not only failed to fight graft but was in fact accused by critics of patronising tainted people.

The first serious allegation against any minister was made when Arjun Munda headed the government in 2004. A newspaper had exposed then land and revenue minister Madhu Singh for demanding a Rs.50 lakh bribe. He was sacked but successive governments failed to pursue investigations against him.

Corruption grew deep roots from 2005 to 2008 when four independents legislators - Enos Ekka, Harinarayan Rai, Madhu Koda and Kamlesh Singh - became kingmakers. All the four are now in jail in graft cases.

Besides politicians, even Indian Administrative Service officials faced serious allegations of corruption. There is hardly any government department above suspicion.

“It seems development was never the agenda. Most politicians and officials only wanted to improve their own fortunes,” Sushila Mishra, a retired principal of Ranchi Women’s College, told IANS.

Even officials in the governor’s office have not proved an exception. The homes of the officer on special duty for governor Syed Sibte Razi were raided by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Also raided were the homes of Razi’s personal secretary. Razi was transferred to Assam in 2009.

Some good work took place during President’s Rule - from January 2009 to December 2009 and again from June 2010 to September 2010.

That was when the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) Ranchi and the National Law University opened here.

The fight against corruption gained momentum during President’s Rule. Thirtyeight officials, including deputy collectors and deputy superintendents of police, were sacked for wrongful appointments.

But such positives have been rare.

Jharkhand has failed to see development despite having 40 percent of India’s mines and minerals. Growth in Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh - the other two states created the same year - has been much faster.

“Successive governments have failed to focus on core sectors like road, electricity, education and health,” said Rabindra Singh, the Jharkhand Congress spokesperson.

Officials say while the state had two Maoist groups in 2000, the number grew to six later. More than 1,600 people, including over 350 security personnel, have been killed in Maoist violence.

Development works like road and railway projects have been badly hit by the Maoists. Jharkhand’s power production fell from 450 MW to 300 MW.

The state miserably failed in the health sector. Doctors are hardly seen in primary health centres. There is a shortage of more than 1,000 doctors in government hospitals. Around 70 percent of women suffer from anaemia, according to official statistics.

Filed under: Politics

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