Internal Colonialism of Jharkhand

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Today, the central idea behind a century old struggle for the creation of separate Jharkhand state lie in tatters, completely. With the brutal introduction of its highly unjust domicile policy, the incumbent BJP Government has murdered the kindred spirit of Jharkhandi denizens. The shrewd ruling élite of the state have sacrificed the hopes, desires, aspirations, dreams and futures of crores of Jharkhandi natives with their repressive policy decision on domicile issue.

This kind of exploitative regime does not bode well for us. It reminds us of the British Colonial era. During that imperial-rule period, to break the exploitative class barriers, to reclaim our stifled voices, to salvage our lost identities and to seek autonomous homeland for ourselves; our brave ancestors had led Jharkhand Movement, for many years. But their dreams of separate Jharkhand state remained an elusive dream. Our long struggle for motherland continued, even in the post-independence India. Finally the long and tiring Jharkhand Movement yielded the positive results for us.

In 2000, we all thought that BJP led NDA Government created separate Jharkhand state to take care of the suppressed and oppressed class of Jharkhandi populace. Our Jharkhandi people were brimming with joy and cautious optimism. Earning the good bit of goodwill and enjoying the first-movers advantage in this newly created state; in the last 16 years, BJP has had the longest reign here. Since then lot has changed for the worse in state as the successive governments failed miserably to offer good governance to its people. Presently, there is a lot of pessimism, cynicism and disillusionment among the Jharkhandis.

In 2016, our state’s ruling élite is led by Chief Minister Raghubar Das. He is a non-Adivasi, who traces his ancestral roots to the neighbouring Chhattisgarh state. No wonder, Jharkhandis sincerely believe that the incumbent Chief Minister, a non-Jharkhandi is pushing the unfair domicile policy down the throats of the hapless local citizens. As he occupies the highest seat of political power and holds the levers of the immense authority in the state, he is actively pushing and pursuing the policy of internal-colonialism here.

It appears that with the passage of time, Chief Minister, State Government and BJP have conveniently forgotten all about the historical struggle of the Moolvasi and Adivasi people; as if they don’t really matter in the greater schemes of things. Their interests become subservient to those, who have migrated from other state in the recent past to make a fortune in this state.

It’s a disturbing reality that the non-Jharkhandi controls almost all the significant pillars in this state, including the influential Press. Even towards the reasonable Jharkhandi cause, the local Press is unsympathetic. Not surprising that state’s Jharkhandis live in silent majority. Sadly, our Jharkhandi people largely belong to the ruled class, the powerless and voiceless aam-janta. In complete contrast, almost all the levers of power are owned and operated by non-Jharkhandis. And this a misfortune of a teenaged state, exploited by its own elected and selected guardians.

Jharkhand state boasts of 100% deposit of our country’s copper, 50% of coal, 40% of bauxite besides 37% of country’s total mineral endowments. In addition, Jharkhand state has more than 32 mega industries, 400 large and medium industries, 55500 tiny, SSI and artisans units, etc. If we delve deeper into the ownership of all the above mentioned mining, manufacturing and trading units operating in the state, then we might discover the cruel truth behind the veil.

With the dawn of the era of capitalism and globalisation, the culture of collective and economy of community ownership have been systematically eroded and banished from this state; fact is that Government lacked seriousness to pursue the policy of involving Gram-Sabha in sharing the spoils of the mineral wealth with the Jharkhandi people. Little wonder, just like mineral rich Africa, Jharkhand state too is a Rich land inhabited by Poorest people.

The unforgiving reality is that the overwhelming majority of Jharkhandi denizens dwell at the bottom of the economic pyramid; they either work in agriculture fields or in the mining sector as a hardy labourer. On the one hand, 75% of state population live in Rural areas; however, only 13% of the agriculture lands are irrigated. No wonder, more than 40% of our state population live Below Poverty Line (BPL) as they struggle to beat hunger on daily basis.

It’s ironic that Jharkhand is one of few states of India that does not take care of its own Jharkhandi natives in their own homeland. Consequently, left-wing extremism is on rise here.

Where will Jharkhandi go? To some distant lands or to the nearest forests. It’s a tough choice. Although forced by depressing circumstances back home, many of these Jharkhandi are forced to migrate to distant lands to survive and seek better earning opportunities; working as hardy labourers. While some head to nearby jungles. Those brave hearts, who stay back at their ancestral homes, they continue to fight the losing battles against the heavy odds on daily basis.

The missing basic infrastructure, the absence of educational facilities, the lack of employment opportunities, the hostile attitude of government towards the Jharkhandis, etc. All these factors do not help our Jharkhandi people. The cold-blooded fact is that in last 16 years, lion’s share of the jobs in the IInd, IIIrd and IVth class jobs in the government sectors have gone to outsiders. And with the introduction of flawed domicile policy by BJP, the process of growing discontent and alienation among the Jharkhandi natives will only speed up. All of these point towards the impending catastrophe in the not so distant future, pitting one against another.

According to the political commentators, BJP has always prided itself as a political party of self-righteous Hindus. In Jharkhand state, the people belonging to the upper-castes and the business-class communities are its foremost supporters and benefactors. It’s an awful reality that Adivasis are not considered as equal and integral part of this caste-hierarchy based “Aryan” society, they are considered outcasts in this always closed society. So, it should not come as a surprise that the local Adivasi communities distrust BJP and viewed their core-constituents as dikku (the exploiters from outside of the state). Interestingly, in not so distant past, BJP has used more ideological palatable (for itself) terms like “Vanvasi and Vanachal” in place of “Adivasi and Jharkhand” respectively.

Pushed into the corners, the opposition political parties eventually decided to fight back the authoritarian BJP Government. They joined their hands and stepped up their protest against the faulty domicile policy of ruling BJP Government. They took out street protests and urged Jharkhandis to support their Bandh-calls. To muffle the growing voices of the dissents, the state Government arrested more than 10000 Jharkhandi protestors. It’s only a start of a long drawn out battle against the hugely unjust domicile policy of the dictatorial government. It’s paradoxical that Jharkhand state and its Jharkhandi natives have been duped once again by its own hearing-impaired Government led by the inflexible Chief Minister.

On hindsight, it seems that BJP did not carve out the new state out of Bihar to fulfil the aspirations of its local Adivasi and Moolvasi denizens. Majority of Jharkhandi have started believing that BJP created this truncated Jharkhand state to accomplish its elaborate electorate, religious, financial and ideological objectives. This young and ambitious political party needed a mineral rich colony to fill its coffers to pursue its grand political plans for the entire nation.

Like a jewel in BJP’s crown, now Jharkhand shines brightly; but underneath that shining glitz lays the pervading gloomy darkness that engulfs the lives of local Adivasis and Moolvasis. I often wonder, for how long, this internal-colonial-policy will continue in my Jharkhand state.

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Sameer Bhagat

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Social-Activist. Author of SALVAGING ADIDWEEP.


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