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|Written by Venkitesh Ramakrishnan|
|Monday, 05 December 2011 04:33|
IN its 11 years of existence, Jharkhand has essentially been perceived as an archetype of political instability and corruption.
In this period, it saw eight Chief Ministers and numerous corruption cases against its political leadership, including a former Chief Minister Madhu Koda, who underwent a stint in jail. In this context, hopes about the great developmental surge that characterised the formation of the State have more or less completely evaporated in the past decade.
Even so, in terms of statistics the State has recorded a growth in gross domestic product (GDP) higher than what was estimated in this period. An approach paper recently prepared by the Planning Commission has it that the State has achieved an average GDP growth rate of 10.6 per cent during the first three years of the Eleventh Plan though its target was 9.8 per cent.
The document states that the GDP growth for Jharkhand in 2008-09 was approximately 12 per cent, while it was 10.81 per cent in 2006-07. The figure for 2010-11 is approximately 11 per cent.
The Planning Commission's assessment is that though a major chunk of the State's GDP has come from the mining sector, other segments of the primary sector such as agriculture have also performed well. Interestingly, the best performance in statistical terms was in 2006-08, during the tenure of Madhu Koda, when the GDP apparently touched 20 per cent.
Observers, however, are not ready to credit the political leadership of the State with any marks for good governance on account of these figures. A member of a subcommittee of the State's Planning Commission pointed out that it was natural for newer, smaller States to have a higher growth quotient compared with States that have had a higher development track record. Buttressing this argument, the member pointed out that the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of its Gross State Domestic Product (GSDP) for 2000-01 to 2009-10 was 11.33 per cent compared with 12.54 per cent in other general-category States.
A detailed ground-level study conducted by Indicus Analytics for a prominent local Hindi-language newspaper, Prabhat Khabar, has unravelled the objective situation in the State. The study pointed out that the State had failed to add a single megawatt to its power generation, despite the signing of many memorandums of understanding with private firms. When Jharkhand was formed, it had three State-owned power plants. In 10 years, the State has not added another to it.
Some of the other findings of the study are as follows: Overall, more than two out of every five people cannot meet their basic needs in Jharkhand; high poverty is reflected in all other measures of socio-economic development; among the three States formed in 2000, Jharkhand has the second highest percentage of population below the poverty line (BPL). Chhattisgarh has the highest percentage of BPL families.
Jharkhand also accounts for the highest percentage of people who had no work for the major part of the reference period (that is, less than six months). The percentage points are almost doubled when compared with economically developed States such as Punjab and Maharashtra. The study also says that, among the newly formed States, Chhattisgarh has the highest percentage of households that live without sufficient food, followed by Jharkhand. Infant mortality rates (IMR) is also similar. Jharkhand is second only to Chhattisgarh in IMR. Only 34 per cent of the children in the age group of 12-23 months are fully immunised against diseases. Obviously, the State fares badly in terms of basic parameters such as health and nutrition.
The study notes that there has been some improvement in higher education after the State got a Central university and an Indian Institute of Management in Ranchi. But these have failed to stop the migration of students. On an average, more than 1,00,000 students migrate from the State for degree and professional courses.
The study also says that lack of development in far-flung areas has allowed Maoists to gain traction in Jharkhand. Clearly, Jharkhand's record is one that does not uphold the theory that small States are more effective.