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Transforming Jharkhand through Development Initiatives

The basic principles of growth and development are the same the world over. Though we behave in a generally homogeneous manner, yet we are vastly different from economically developing countries of Africa and Asia, and from the affluent West.
In a broad sense, development is defined as the overall well-being of the entire population. Thus, any agenda on development goes beyond the income of the individual or of the groups of individuals or of the society, and encompasses healthy living, equity, empowerment, participation, security, and social cohesion. Thus, the goal of the nation for development is therefore to increase economic growth and social justice, improve human resources, empower the poor, and create employment opportunity for them and consequently to reduce poverty. Thus, a nation thrives and develops if it simultaneously encompasses all these for the betterment of its people.

In India, there is low level of income and high incidence of poverty, which has impacted on all aspects of development of the human society. Extreme poverty is now heavily concentrated in two particular regions of the world: South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. They have among the lowest per capita income among all the regions (Amartya Sen, 2000:99, “Development as Freedom”). Poverty affects social development directly, as it has strong positive impact on infant mortality and death rate.

The recent literature on poverty has caused rethinking of development policies appropriate for poverty alleviation. There is quite a good number of literature that generally refers to addressing poverty. Poverty does not come by itself, one needs to understand the causes of poverty. Once the cause of poverty is understood, the solution for minimizing the poverty can be found out, if not its complete eradication.

While talking about poverty, it reminds me of one cartoon by the celebrated cartoonist R. K. Laxman on Mr Rajiv Gandhi’s ambitious plan on virtually eradicating poverty, that appeared in Laxman Rekha, a Times of India Publication (edited by Nina Martyris, p. 121, 205). The lines run as follows against the cartoon on the facing page (120) thus: “Mr Rajiv Gandhi outlined an ambitious plan of virtually eradicating poverty. He stated that 75 per cent of the population would be lifted above the poverty line within five years and that by the end of the century; the figure would be 95 per cent. He also said that from 1980 to 1984, the percentage for people brought above the poverty line had gone up from 36 to 51.” (This is an extract from his speech delivered on 5 December 1985).

Based on his speech R. K. Laxman developed a cartoon thus — An aged haggard faced poor man with an empty thali and a lota sitting on the ground with folded legs before the pasted statistical chart on the wall, looking at the poverty line which hangs before him just a little above his bald head. The drawn poverty line has been held stretched by a man, a facial carricature of Mr Rajiv Gandhi, partly bending across his working table, while on the other end on the right side, a bespectacled man stands holding the other end of the line, giving the impression of a bureaucrat, amidst sheets of papers (suggesting statistical estimates). The twosome join in hands through the line while the caricature of Mr Gandhi, the politician, speaks, “LOWER IT. LET THE POOR FELLOW BE A WEE BIT ABOVE IT!”

Though it is just a cartoon, but it shows the reality in India.

Identification of poor and estimation of poverty in India has received considerable attention during the last few decades. The issue of identification of poor in rural areas is one of the most important factors for effective implementation of various poverty alleviation programmes. The basis for estimating poverty in India is the National Sample Survey data on Household Consumer Expenditure. The Planning Commission of the Government of India, or its Expert Group, as well as the other social scientists, estimate the poverty in rural and urban areas in India on the basis of the National Sample Survey data. There are controversies and diversity of opinions on the methodology and estimates of poverty released by the Planning Commission of the Government of India as it does not take into consideration the various facets of rural population like social groups (caste), type of household (occupation), possession of land, possession of irrigated land, age and sex of the head of the household and other members of the household. While the Expert Group for estimating the State-specific poverty line takes into consideration the various facets of the rural population.

          Cultural characteristics of Bihar (north Bihar), Uttar Pradesh and north-west of Madhya Prdesh are fairly similar, being the Hindi speaking belt, where there is high concentration of Scheduled Castes. While south Bihar (now Jharkhand), and Orissa, and also south-eastern part of Madhya Pradesh (now Chhattisgarh) has strong concentration of Scheduled Tribe population. We find a fairly uniform pattern of culture in this tribal dominated pocket of central India. Only Orissa and West Bengal is linguistically and culturally distinct from the central Indian Hindi speaking belt, though tribal cultural characteristics are similar with the tribes of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. Thus, we find that the ‘high poverty states’ shows two distinct linguistic groups, one Hindi speaking group, and the other Bengali/Oriya linguistic group. Assam is an exception.

In the present paper, the author would like to focus his attention to the development process initiated by the government and non-government organizations which implies economic betterment of the people as well as social transformation. The author specifically would like to present the economic inequality of the people of Jharkhand where there is 26 per cent people are tribals, who are struggling hard to adjust themselves with the rapidly changing situation brought in by large scale industrialization and ever increasing urbanization in specific centres interspersed between forests and agricultural tracts.
The Indian society is in the throes of transition. When we look around us we find that every aspect of life and organization is undergoing change. Nowhere is this so prominent, perhaps, as in the patterns of stratification and differentiation. The traditional pattern of differentiation rooted in professional family heredity and family behaviour, is being replaced by a new pattern based on competition and specialization which have thrown open newer modern occupations and professions. In India, the twin process of mobility and urbanization are going on simultaneously.

Today the tribals of some villages in Jharkhand are almost indistinguishable from the upper caste villages. The Oraons, for example, have forgotten their past tradition (Sachchidananda, 1970). The Gonds of some areas have become “part-society as a caste”. The Mundas have begun to lose faith in the power of “Bonga”. The Bhumij exhibits caste like characteristics. The tribals of Jharkhand differ widely among themselves in the level of social-economic development. The number of people living entirely by hunting and food gathering is very small. Many tribal communities have already got assimilated with the general population in India.
 Rural development is therefore, an absolute and urgent necessity in India now and will continue to be so in future.
Indian policy makers have been emphasizing upon the need of rural development ever since the advent of the planning process in the country. The ultimate objective of rural development was the eradication of poverty and thus improving the quality of life of the masses. Hence the focus of planned development was on "growth with equity". However, despite a modest growth in the economy, rural areas have lagged behind in the process of development. The economic growth of India has remained concentrated in a few sectors and only in certain regions of the country. This has created wide regional disparities and inequalities amongst the different sections of the society.
In India, we find this sustainability of the projects is in a very bad shape. On the basis of experience in developed and developing economies of the world it has now been realised that the real motive force of socio-economic progress is the people. So, people's participation in the development programmes is the need of the hour for sustainable development.
 Many non-government organisations and voluntary organisations after having understood the basic concepts of people's participation in rural development programmes have come forward to assist the government and its programmes to serve the predominantly agrarian society in rural areas of India.
In the tribal belt of Jharkhand there are more than 200 non-government organisations who are actively engaged in the development programmes in the different districts of Jharkhand.
Science and Technology for Rural Development
In India, the entire science and technology institutions are only caring for the urban people. The chain of Science and Technology institutions for National Laboratories at one end and the ITI’s on the other hand cater to only urban industrial needs. Science and technology for the vast rural areas of India is left to the traditional craftsmen and to ill trained and ill equipped personnels. Development administration at the block level is manned by ordinary arts graduates.
India needs a science and technology policy to match its own special needs, the needs of the rural people, and not that which is based on the value system of the affluent West. The Western value system brings social stress and is a source of economic wastage.
India will develop fast if the youths of the villagers get skilled training, and develop an attitudinal change and interest in science and technology for rural development, particularly in the field of agriculture and irrigation for their sustainable development.
By: P. Dash Sharma
(Retired Professor of Anthropology, Ranchi University, Ranchi)

Mailing address of author:
A-3, 3rd Floor
11, New Santoshpur Main Road,
Santoshpur, Kolkata-700075
(Mob.: 8521427117, Tel.: 033-24160089)

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