Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum
(Jharkhand Vaikalpik Vikas Manch)
c/o P.P. Verma, 60, Booty Road, Ranchi-834009
Alternative Development Model For Jharkhand - Prem P. Verma
Background of Jharkhand � some statistics
Jharkhand State, formed on November 15, 2000, has a total population of 269 lacs, with rural people accounting for 77.7% of the population. Of the total population, tribals account for 23%. The number of villages is 32,620.
Total area of the State is 79,714 sq. km. with rural area accounting for 97% of the same. The distribution of the total area is as follows :
Urban land � 2.3%
Forest land � 23.0%
Wasteland � 19.0%
Cultivable land � 55.7%
Population below poverty line is 53%, literacy level is a mere 52% and only 50% population has access to safe drinking water.
Land acquired in the name of �development� of Jharkhand is 24,00,000 acres and this has displaced 17,00,000 people of which 80-90% are tribals and locals of Jharkhand. Only about 25% of the displaced personnel have been halfway rehabilitated.
This then is the real picture on which any development plan of Jharkhand must be based.
False hopes of job-creation
Jharkhand has been promised, since its creation and even before when it was part of Bihar, employment, prosperity and happiness through the establishment of a number of large projects on its soil. Since the advent of globalisation, the promises have accelerated.
From 1991 till date, globalisation and free trade has been given the credit for the extraordinary growth of our economy. Captains of industry constantly remind us how India is becoming an acknowledged superpower. The U.S. Nuclear Agreement is today cited as an example of this great status accorded to us.
Whereas, the facts speak otherwise. During this entire globalisation period of 17 years, employment in organized private sector has remained static at 4.5 million people (employing merely 1% of total work-force of 460 millions). Rapid economic growth has not produced employment whereas we are adding every year an additional unemployed labour force of 10 millions. This 170 millions added during the globalisation period is roaming our streets looking for jobs and we are proud of boasting that India has the second largest number of billionaires in the world. We are not a nuclear force due to the U.S. Nuclear Agreement; we are instead sitting on an explosive time-bomb of unemployed youth which will explode any day and destroy our dreams of false growth bandied about. This growth is not promoting employment and the emphasis should be on instruments of employment that will promote growth. Promoting growth without employment is a classic example of putting the cart before the horse.
The IT Sector and SEZ�s are another method of promoting employment that is being advertised. Indian IT sector�s total employment is 1.3 millions (a mere 0.3% of total work-force). In SEZ�s (since February 2006, when the SEZ rules were passed), India has invested Rs. 81,000 crores and created 2,15,000 jobs, an expenditure of Rs. 37 lakhs per job. A simple scheme like NREGA will guarantee 100 days of work per year for 370 people with the same Rs. 37 lakhs.
Tata Steel in Jharkhand had a workforce of 85,000 when it was producing 1 million tons of steel in 1991. In 2005, Tatas produced 5 million tons with 44,000 workers. The production was 5 times with half the labour.
The conclusions are obvious. Large and mega industries, IT sector, SEZ�s, etc. are not the keys to solving India�s number one problem � unemployment. The Constitution guarantees us right to work and if the increased number of hungry mouths are not employed meaningfully, we are heading towards unmitigated disaster and unstoppable violence in our society. Naxalism, communalism, terrorism are all off-shoots of this.
Understanding Tribal Society
Jharkhand was carved out from Bihar as a tribal State although tribals constitute only 23% of the population. We have a tribal Chief Minister since the inception to protect the interest of the tribals, although the experience has been otherwise.
Any development plan for Jharkhand must incorporate and protect the culture of the tribal community and we should not make the mistake of USA and Australia in damaging the original tribal inhabitants of the State. Tribals are community oriented, love nature and its surroundings including its forests, birds, animals, lakes, etc. In fact the majority of
tribal surnames are derived from birds or animals to show their affinity to nature. When tribals talk of land, it is not a strip x metre by y metre, but everything above and blow it, i.e. air, water, minerals, environment, etc. and their entire culture is intertwined with the same. When you uproot a tribal from his land, you are displacing a whole way of life and culture and he becomes totally alien to his new habitat. This must be kept in mind when talking about development of Jharkhand.
In our race to ape the West, we erroneously have come to believe that growth and progress means cities teeming with concrete skyscrapers, malls, highways, McDonalds and Pizza Huts. In this scenario, rural communities are an anachronism that must be forced to urbanize and fall in line. The development model therefore that most appeals to us is the one that uproots village communities, takes their land for large projects and forces the rural population to live in urban ghettos. In fact our Government at the Centre has promised rapid urbanization through the above process over a period so that rural:urban ratio is reversed and happiness will result. Or will it?
Globalisation versus Alternate Development
Seventeen years of globalization has given us widening gap between rich and poor, second largest number of billionaires in the world co-existing side by side with 77% of the population who have to survive on Rs. 20/- per day, rural neglect in the name of speedy urbanization, curtailment of agriculture for rapid industrialization, displacement of rural poor to make way for urban growth, increased violence due to large scale unemployment and disenchantment, insatiable urban consumption with rural starvation deaths and creation of a wealthy class unconcerned with how the other Bharat lives.
Whereas, alternative model of development is aimed towards rural development as opposed to urban, investment in and modernization of agriculture and agro-based industries, promotion of small and cottage industries in the rural areas, minimal or nil displacement of the rural population, creation of employment opportunities in the rural hinterland to discourage migration to urban centres, development projects based on People�s Plan with grassroots participation, community ownership of projects and assets and protection of nature and environment along with rural growth.
The Alternative Development Model for Jharkhand
From the above it is quite clear that the alternative development model best suited for Jharkhand is one that is rural oriented, emphasizes farming as a sustainable activity, keeps rural and tribal societies intact, preserves tribal culture and its diversity, is environment friendly and produces nil or minimal displacement.
The practical model of alternative development that is being implemented currently in Jharkhand by Jharkhand Alternative Development Forum, in cooperation with local groups led by Dr. Mitilesh Dangi of Azadi Bachao Andolan, is near Hazaribagh in the Barakagaon Block in a remote village there.
Firstly, the village is being given electricity through a community owned and operated 10 KW steam engine power producing plant which runs on coal and water. Three village young men will be trained to operate and maintain the plant and they will be employed with salaries for the same. The total operating and maintenance cost including salaries will be borne by the villagers and the village group will have total control over their own power generation.
Secondly, farmers from the village will be trained at Dehradun in organic and multi-crop farming methods with natural composte (and no expensive chemical fertilizers), so that the farming as a profession becomes profitable and sustainable in the long run. It is a pity today that the farmer who gives us our daily food is at the bottom strata of our status hierarchy whereas it should be just the opposite.
Thirdly, twenty-four hour power availability in the village will give rise to small manufacturing and service units to meet the needs of the village and surrounding areas, thus generating further employment.
Fourthly, the available power in the day can also be used to run water pumps for irrigation and farming requirements.
Where water falls or river streams are available, instead of steam engine, we can use micro-hydro power generating units using small turbines. Bio-gas based power generating units are also an alternate wherever applicable.
This attempt is simple : give small community-owned autonomous power generating units to the village, upgrade farming methods, set up small industrial units to produce requirements of village and surrounding areas, upgrade handloom weaving in areas where this was a profession, promote community-owned and operated tourism in scenic Jharkhand areas, encourage the growth of local art and culture of the community, etc.
This is real development from bottom upwards and benefits of growth will flow upwards
and not downwards as in globalisation. With Jharkhand�s population being 78% rural of total and 23% tribal of total, below poverty line being 53%, how can we ever think of skyscrapers, highways, large dams, mega power plants and mega monolithic industries as our way to paradise? The displaced are crying and the rural are shouting and yet we seem deaf to their pleas.
Today it is a plea, tomorrow it will be a threat, and the day after destruction and violence will follow unless we wake up. The majority is rural and the real alternative development has to be for this segment and this development has to be as per their requirements, desire and decision and not someone sitting in Ranchi or Delhi and preparing a �golden� plan. Let us all wake up to reality before it is too late.
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