East- West conundrum of India

 

To be able to understand the failings of mineral rich states like: Jharkhand, Orissa & Chattisgarh, we’ll need to delve deeper into the East-West conundrum.

  1. The Western part of India is relatively prosperous thanks to stable state governments since independence. In many western states (Gujarat & coastal Maharashtra) the presence of a traditional mercantile class since antiquity has helped create an atmosphere of thriving economic activity. Moreover, liberalization of economy ( although a bane for small scale industries) helped those who were ready to adjust with times: new expertise, better production techniques & the boom of economy trickled down on a vast segment of mercantile class of western India.
  1. The Eastern half on the other hand has had a hard time dealing with changing conditions over the past seven decades (a feudalistic mindset may also be one amongst a multitude of reasons for this). Further, Eastern India (the region of Bengal) suffered the most under the British Raj (Bengal & adjoining regions were continuously under British rule post Battle of Plassey in 1757). Post independence, this historical chasm between East & West further grew owing to rise of Naxalism ( in 1960’s); a direct product of holding onto an anachronistic feudal culture.

 

  1. In context of mineral rich states of East India the menace of naxalism has severely hampered progress. Maoist run parallel governments are rampant across multiple towns particularly in the tribal belt; scant development in such areas has effectively turned them into Maoist hotspots. This has unleashed a vicious cycle of under development as popular schemes can barely be implemented in zones of political unrest rendering them even more vulnerable to Naxals & their ideologies (blowing of schools, demanding levy from industrial establishments often populates the front page of leading news dailies).

 

  1. Political instability: Between 2000 & 2014 a total of 9 governments were formed in the state of Jharkhand. Nothing harms a state more than a crippled government. Investors were never ready to commit in a politically volatile state that too with security issues .Those who reluctantly agreed demanded exorbitant returns ( read: arm twisting the state government ) & hence, the result: little trickling down on the hapless masses:

 

“per capita income stands at a grim, Rs.29,786, as of 2011 & with BPL population hovering at around 40% of total (source: UNICEF India) with high child undernourishment & anemia among women running rampant.”

 

States like Orissa & Chattisgarh were less politically turbulent however, prosperity for the masses was never in proportion of industrialization. Certainly, there has been a lack of political will from the side of state governments. These states are surely the best example of failure of lassiez faire theory (trickle down effect).

©Haris Ahmed

(Originally written on Quora)

 

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