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Jharkhand: A profile
 

The state of Jharkhand became a functional reality on November 15, 2000 after almost sixty years of people`s movements around the Jharkhandi identity. Located on Chhota Nagpur plateau and Santhal Parganas, it has evergreen forests, rolling hills and rocky plateaus with many places of keen beauty.

It has been carved out of the relatively backward southern part of undivided Bihar, sharing borders with the states of Bihar to the north, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to the west, Orissa to the south, and West Bengal to the east. The industrial city of Ranchi is its capital, while other major cities and industrial centers are Jamshedpur, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Sindri, Deoghar Hazaribagh and Gumla.

History

The name "Jharkhand" comes from the Sanskrit word Jharikhanda, which is the ancient name of the region`s dense forest. It is said the region already had a distinct geo-political, cultural entity called Jharkhand even before the period of Magadh Empire, and the name has also been referred to in the Bhavishya Purana (around 1200 AD). Among the earliest rulers of this land were tribals, of whom some, like the Munda Rajas, continue to thrive till today.

During Mughal period, the Jharkhand area was known as Kukara and after 1765, it came under control of the British Empire. The subjugation of Jharkhand region by the Britishers resulted in spontaneous resistance from local people. The region witnessed a series of repeated revolts by the tribal populace against British colonial regime.

Tribal revolts: One of the earliest tribal revolts, all of which took place from 1771 to 1900, occurred under the leadership of Tilka Manjhi, a valiant Santhal leader. He wanted to liberate his people from the clutches of the unscrupulous landlords and restore the lands of their ancestors. But the uprisings were crushed by the British troops ruthlessly. Soon after, the Bhumij tribes rose in arms against the British in Manbhum, now in West Bengal, in 1779, followed by the Chero tribes of Palamau. The latter revolted in 1800 AD, and in 1807, the Oraons in Barway too revolted by killing their landlord in Gumla.

The tribal uprisings also engulfed the neighbouring Tamar areas of the Munda tribes, who were up in arms from 1811 to 1813, followed by the Ho tribe which, in 1820, fought against the landlords and the British troops for two years in the Singhbhum region. Their revolt is called the Larka Kol Risings. The great Kol Risings in 1832 greatly upset the British administration.

Though the Santhal insurrection in 1855, under the leadership of two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu, gave a tough battle to the British troops, these were finally crushed down too. After them, under the iconic leadership of Birsa Munda, the tribals revolted again in 1895 and continued their fight till 1900. This revolt mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada and Bandgaon, it also got support from Oraon belt of Lohardaga, Sisai and even Barway. It was the longest and the greatest tribal revolt in Jharkhand, and Birsa Munda, after becoming a folklore hero, later attained the status of a God-like figure among the tribals.

During freedom struggle, the Tana Movement was started in 1914 under the leadership of Jatra Oraon, who later joined the Satyagrah of Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and stopped giving land tax to the British government. In 1915, the Chotanagpur Unnati Samaj was formed for socio-economic development of the tribals and when the Simon Commission came to Patna and Chhotanagpur in 1928, the Samaj delegation put forth its demand for a separate Jharkhand state which was rejected.

Jharkhand Movement: The movement for a separate statehood had been changing colour and strategy, but after Independence, when the Jharkhand Party grew politically stronger, the government formed various Commissions to examine the feasibility of the demand. The Thakkar Commission (August 1947) said it would not be beneficial for the Adivasis, while the Dar Commission (1948) rejected it on linguistic grounds. Besides the State Reorganisation Commission (1955) reports also did not agree to the demand for a separate state of Jharkhand.

However, the Jharkhand Party never lost its vision and contested the 1952 elections and won 32 seats in Bihar Assembly. In the 1957 assembly elections it won the same number, but in 1962 the party could win only 23 seats. It later aligned with Congress and Jaipal Sigh became a minister in Vinodanand Jha`s government and the demand for a Tribal Homeland was put into cold storage for nearly a decade.

In the 1967 assembly polls, the party suffered defeat and won only 8 seats that led to its split. But the movement got a new lease of life under Santhal leader Shibu Soren, who formed the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), in league with Marxist Co-ordination Committee in 1972. In the early years, Soren brought industrial and mining workers mainly non-tribals belonging to Dalit and Backward communities e.g., Surdis, Doms, Dusadh and Kurmi-Mahtos into its fold. His association with the late congress MP Gyanranjan brought him close to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. He won Dumka Lok Sabha seat in 1972.

Irked over Soren’s proximity to the Congress party, some young Turks in the JMM set up the All Jharkhand Students` Union (AJSU) in Jamshedpur but failed to stunt the growth of JMM. The movement was reignited under the foreign educated scholar Ram Dayal Munda, who unified splinter groups to constitute the Jharkahnd Coordination Committee in June 1987. The JMM later pulled out of JCC as it felt `the collective leadership was a farce`.

In the nineties, BJP too came out with its demand for a separate "Vananchal" state comprising 18 districts of Bihar. In response, the then Home Minister, Buta Singh, asked Ram Dayal Munda to prepare a report on Jharkhand. The latter advised `autonomy` for `Greater Jharkhand`. In August 1989, a committee on Jharkhand Matters (CoJM) was formed and it proposed a Union Territory or a Jharkhand General Council.

After a tripartite agreement signed by the Centre, the Bihar government and Jharkhand leaders the Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council (JAAC) was set up in 1995. In July 1997, Shibu Soren extended support to a minority government of Laloo Yadav with a condition of a separate Jharkhand bill. The Lok Sabha on August 2, 2000 passed the bill to create a separate state of Jharkhand.

Parliament approved the formation of Jharkhand when the Rajya Sabha passed the Bihar Reorganisation Bill 2000 on August 11, and on August 25, President K.R. Narayanan gave his consent to the bill. The Centre issued the gazette notification on October 12, 2000, and fixed November 15 to be the date for the formation of new Jharkhand government. Therefore, on November 15, 2000 BJP leader Babulal Marandi became the first Chief Minister and Prabhat Kumar administered him oath of office as the first Governor of the state.

Demographics

Jharkhand has a population of 26.93 million, consisting of 13.88 million males and 13.08 million females. The sex ratio is 941 females to 1000 males. The population consists of 28% tribals, 12% Scheduled Castes and 60% others. The population density of the state is 274 persons per square kilometre, however, it varies from as low as 148 per square kilometre in Gumla district to as high as 1167 per square kilometre in Dhanbad district.

Since Jharkhand was part of Bihar, the region witnessed migration of people from that state and West Bengal for last several decades, besides attracting people from all parts of India to industrial and mining centers like Jamshedpur, Dhanbad and Ranchi. Around 10% of the population is Bengali speaking and 70% speak various dialects of Hindi.

Hinduism is the majority religion in the state with 68.5%, followed by Islam with 13.8% of the population, while 13% practice Animisitic Sarna religion. Christianity with 4.1% is the fourth largest religious community while Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism also form less than 1% of the population.

Culture & education

The people of Jharkhand speak a number of languages belonging to three major language families: the Munda languages which include Santhali, Mundari, Ho, KHaria, Bhumji and Kurmali; the Dravidian languages which include Oraon (Kurukh), Korwa, and Paharia (Malto) and the Indo-Aryan languages which Nagpuri, Sadri, Khortha, Hindi, Urdu and Bengali. A fair part of the state population speaks Oriya and Bengali or a blend of Oriya and Bengali.

Besides, the state has 32 tribal groups which include Asur, Baiga, Banjara, Bathudi, Bedia, Binjhia, Birhor, Birjia, Birjia, Chero, Chick-Baraik, Gond, Gorait, Ho, Karmali, Kharia, Kharwar, Khond, Kisan, Kora, Korwa, Lohara, Mahli, Mal-Paharia, Munda, Oraon, Parhaiya, Santhal, Sauria-Paharia, Savar, Bhumij, Kol and Kanwar.

As per the 2001 census, the literacy rate for the state was 54.13% (Male: 69.74%; Female: 39.38%) with 5 districts above the average literacy rate: Purvi Singhbhum: 69.42% (Male: 80.08%; Female:57.95%); Dhanbad: 67.49% (Male: 80.03%; Female:52.93%); Ranchi: 65.69% (Male: 77.76%; Female: 52.77%); Bokaro: 62.98% (Male: 76.99%; Female: 47.17%); Hazaribagh: 58.05% (Male: 72.06%; Female: 43.15%).

The state has made primary education so accessible that 95% of children age between 6 and 11 go to school.

Flora and fauna

Jharkhand has a rich variety of flora and fauna. The National Parks and the Zoological Gardens located here present a panorama of this variety. Betla National Park in the Palamu covering an area of about 250 square kilometers has a large variety of wildlife. In 1974, the park was declared a Project Tiger Reserve. The reason for variety and diversity of flora and fauna found in state may be accredited to the Palamu Tiger Reserve which is an abode of hundreds of species of flora and fauna.

The Hazaribagh Wildlife Sanctuary with scenic beauties, 135 kms away from Ranchi, is set in an ecosystem very similar to Betla National Park of Palamu. While Jawaharlal Nehru Zoological Garden in Bokaro is the biggest Zoological Garden in Jharkhand. Another zoo is also located about 16 km from Ranchi.

Economy

Jharkhand has 24 districts, 211 blocks and 32, 620 villages out of which only 45% are electrified while 8,484 are connected by roads. Urbanization ratio is 42.25% and the per capita annual income is USD 1,490. The state is the leading producer of mineral wealth, as it is endowed with vast variety of minerals like iron ore, coal, copper ore, mica, bauxite, graphite, limestone, and uranium, besides known for its vast forest resources.

The state has a concentration of some of the country’s highly industrialized cities such as Jamshedpur, Ranchi, Bokaro Steel City and Dhanbad. It also has several firsts in India, including: largest fertilizer factory of its time at Sindri; first Iron and Steel factory at Jamshedpur, largest steel plant in Asia, Bokaro steel plant, Bokaro; biggest explosives factory at Gomia, Bpakro; first Methane gas well at Parbatpur, Bokaro.

Polity

The state has a unicameral legislature with 81 members, while it sends 14 members to Parliament. The state in its nine years of existence has witnessed six Chief Ministers and now under the President’s Rule since January 19, 2009, following the resignation of JMM chief Shibu Soren after his debacle in Tamar Assembly by-election to Jharkhand Party candidate Gopal Krishna Patar (alias Raja Peter).

Compiled by: Arun Chaubey

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