Skip to main content

Worrying: Hemant Soren govt is ‘silent’ on jal-jangal-zameen, traditional governance

Counterview Desk

Even as praising the Hemant Soren government for its "commitment" to the welfare of people in Jharkhand, a civil rights organization has complained, “But the journey is a long one”, as many “pro-people announcements” have not been fully implemented on the completion of one year in office.
In a statement, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha said, “The government needs to demonstrate political will to end the widespread corruption nexus of officials and contractors in MGNREGA. Also, while CM did mention malnutrition in his speech, he did not specify how this will be addressed amongst the children.”

Text:

Hemant Soren government completed its first year in office on December 29, 2020 and announced a number of new schemes on this occasion. Jharkhand’s electorate gave a clear mandate in favour of Gathbandhan under the leadership of Hemant Soren in 2019 after suffering the BJP-AJSU misrule of five years under Chief Ministership of Raghuvar Das.
During the election campaign and after formation of Gathbandhan Government, Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha, a network of several activists and people’s organisations, has been continuously raising people’s issues and demands. It’s heartening to note that the present government has given attention to some of these issues during last one year and also in the set of announcements made on December 29.
Widespread hunger and malnutrition is one of the major issues in Jharkhand. The CM accepted this fact in his December 29 speech and launched some schemes to tackle the problem. A large number of eligible citizens are left out of the PDS and the announcement to include 15 lakh beneficiaries is a step in the right direction. The decision of universal extension of old age social security pension is also a welcome step. At present more than half of elderly citizens are deprived of social security pensions.
The decision to increase MGNREGA wages from Rs 194 to Rs 225 by utilizing state funds too is praiseworthy. We hope state government will act on its announcement and soon raise this wage rate to minimum wage level.
However, the government needs to demonstrate political will to end the widespread corruption nexus of officials and contractors in MGNREGA. Also, while CM did mention malnutrition in his speech, he did not specify how this will be addressed amongst the children.
For example, the number of eggs being provided in Anganwadi and Mid-day-meals needs to be increased. CM also complimented on the role of public health system in fight against covid but the government is yet to strengthen health infrastructure in general and primary health care system in particular on ground. We hope the state government will focus on this vital area as well sooner rather than later.
In Jharkhand, people have to struggle against red-tapism and systemic corruption for availing their day-to-day entitlement. The declaration to implement Service Guarantee Act through JHARSEWA and holding officials accountable is important, but the system should be implemented through Panchayat and Block offices and not via Pragya Kendras or private agencies. Also, the governance should be completely decentralised and funds, functionaries and functions should be ensured for the Panchayats and block and district level Panchayati Raj governments.
CM’s declaration of waiver of farmers’ loans shows the commitment towards election-manifesto promises. But Aadhaar should not be made mandatory for farmers to avail this. Also, all recommendations of Swaminathan Committee including MSP for all agricultural produce at 50% above C2 cost should be implemented in the state at the earliest.
Issues not attended include promulgation of law against mob lynching, reopening merged schools, release of undertrial prisoners
By mentioning Adivasi and Jharkhandi identity and pride in his speech, the CM has reiterated the government’s commitment for welfare of Jharkhandis. Endorsement of recommendation for a separate Adivasi Sarana code for next census exercise by the Jharkhand Assembly is a step in the right direction. 
But it is deeply worrying that there has been complete silence on the issues of Jal-Jangal-Zameen and traditional governance last one year and also in the speech of December 29. Announcements and action are still awaited on fully implementing provisions of fifth schedule of constitution and PESA, cancellation of land bank policy, cancelling projects which were initiated by forceful acquisition of land and so on. 
In the backdrop of the history of large-scale displacement and miseries of people from mining and large projects, a comprehensive policy should be drafted to ensure Constitutional rights of Adivasi-Mulvasis on natural resources and governance through their traditional governance system. 
By announcing new rule for JPSC and promising to conduct timely examinations effective January 2021, CM has addressed a basic and important need of the state. At the same time, the government needs to prepare a domicile policy based on Jharkhandi welfare. It also needs to implement provisions to ensure adequate representation of Adivasis and Jharkhandis in all types of jobs and promotions.
Another area of concern is lack of attention of CM and his government and ruling alliance members towards the continuing atrocities on Adivasis and locals in the hands of security forces. Justice is not being delivered to the victims in most of such cases and hardly any compensation has been paid. Local members of the ruling political parties are also not standing with the victims of such violence.
Hemant Soren had announced immediately after his taking oath as CM that cases on hundreds named and thousands un-named persons in connection with Pathalgadi movement will be withdrawn. This announcement was like a light at the end of tunnel for the affected Adivasi families and social activists. But this promise is only on papers even after a year of its announcement. 
As per the information taken through RTI, district administrations have recommended withdrawal of only 16 out of 30 Pathalgadi cases filed in 3 districts. These 16 cases are also pending with state home department for further action. This and many other instances point out a large gap between political announcements and administrative follow up action.
Like earlier years, violence against women took place unabated during last one year as well. Announcement to set up a helpline for women is useful but concrete and timely redressal of complaints, action against perpetrators and gender sensitisation training in government offices and educational institutions needs to be undertaken on a large scale.
There are other issues of larger public interest which have not been attended to so far like promulgation of law against mob lynching, implementation of recommendations of Sachar Committee, reopening merged schools, release of undertrial prisoners, encouragement to local languages and so on.
Mahasabha hopes that Hemant Soren government will act on all its poll promises in letter and spirit and intensify its efforts for the welfare of Jharkhandi cause. We demand that the government should initiate direct and regular dialogue with activists and people’s organizations to bridge the gap between government’s intentions and grassroot realities.

Comments

TRENDING

North Gujarat gram panchayat bars villagers from dealing with Muslim hawkers, traders

By Our Representative  A gram panchayat in North Gujarat has barred its residents not to buy anything from Muslim traders and hawkers. An order of the Waghasan group gram panchayat of Tharad taluka of Banaskantha district dated June 30 states that the decision has been taken in the wake of beheading of a Hindu tailor after he posted a derogatory writeup on Prophet Mohammad in Udaipur. The gram panchayat resolution says, anyone seen buying or selling any commodity from a Muslim hawker or trader would be fined Rs 5,100. Bringing this to light, Mujahid Nafees, convener, Minority Coordination Committee, in a letter to Gujarat chief minister Bhupendra Patel, says, the state government should take legal action against the panchayat chief who has signed the “unjust” order. The letter says, the act of the sarpanch and other signatories is a violation of rule of law of the state and threat to peace, pointing out, the move is in violation of Article 15 of the Constitution, which says that none

Unlike Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India: Ukrainian scholar tells 'Indian friends'

Counterview Desk In an open letter to "dear Indian friends", Anastasia Piliavsky, born in Odessa, Ukraine, studied at Boston and Oxford Universities (on a Rhodes Scholarship), and now teaches at King’s College, London, has said that she faces "deep moral dilemma", personally and professionally, over the "astonishingly unified Indian response to the war in Ukraine." Based on her interaction with a "number of thoughtful and caring Indian friends", in this letter, she says, she is "reeling at the ubiquitous silence at, justifications of or outright support for Putin’s terror, which now prevails in India, at the ubiquitous #IStandWithPutin and #istandwithrussia hashtags." She insists, India must understand, "Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia is no friend to India. Soviet leaders, beginning with (the Ukrainian) Nikita Khrushchev – who declared hindi rusi bhai bhai – built up deep political and cultural exchange with India." Text : I

Technocratic globalism, tyranny? Health Ministry warned: bill to 'enslave' Indians

Sandeep Pandey, Tushar Gandhi By Rosamma Thomas*  Union of Concerned Citizens, a group comprising Magsaysay Award winner Prof Sandeep Pandey, human rights activist Tushar Gandhi, former judge of the Bombay High Court BG Kolse Patil, pediatrician Dr Jacob Puliyel and several renowned Indian citizens have written to the Union Health Minister cautioning him against tabling the draft Public Health Bill in the Monsoon Session of Parliament. “The Public Health (Prevention, Control And Management Of Epidemics, Bio-Terrorism And Disasters) Bill, 2017 and a Prospective Bill of 2022 as discussed in news articles, is straightforwardly violative of Fundamental Rights of the citizens of India and therefore, Ultra Vires of the Indian Constitution. It contravenes several International Treaties and Conventions including the Nuremberg Treaty of 1947 which was enacted to ensure that no country would repeat such inhuman medical atrocities on fellow human beings”, the 12-page letter reads. “Strangely, t

Protesters demand release of Teesta Setalvad, Sreekumar, seek review of SC order

By Our Representative  Protests broke out across India on June 27 following Teesta Setalvad’s arrest demanding her immediate release. Sabrang India , a site run by Setalvad, claimed she was “arrested on trumped-up charges after the Supreme Court dismissed the petition moved by Zakia Jafri demanding an investigation into the larger conspiracy behind the 2002 Gujarat violence.” The protesters also demanded release of former DGP Gujarat police RB Sreekumar, also arrested simultaneously. The protests were preceded by over 2,200 people from across the globe signing a statement demanding their immediate release. Leading signatories such as People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) general secretary V Suresh, National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) convenor Medha Patkar, former Naval chief Admiral Ramdas. “The state has used the observations made in the judgment to falsely and vindictively prosecute those who had struggled for justice even in the face of state callousness and complicit

Electoral bonds scheme 'compromises' voluntary nature PM relief fund donations

By Rosamma Thomas*  The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund (PMNRF) is meant to collect voluntary donations from the general public, either individuals or organizations, to enable assistance to people in times of natural disaster, or for expensive medical treatment. That fundamental voluntary character of the fund, however, has changed in recent years.  The gazette notification of January 2018 announcing the Electoral Bond scheme states, in Clause 12 (2): “The amount of bonds not encashed within the validity period of fifteen days shall be deposited by the authorized bank to the Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund”. The Union government has, thus, through notification, directed funds to be deposited into what was meant to be purely voluntary. Commodore Lokesh Batra, who has been campaigning for transparency in government functioning, holds that once a gazette notification has been issued directing that funds be deposited into the PMNRF, the character of the whole fund has changed,

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

'Highly abnormal': AltNews journo's arrest suggests 'deterioration in media freedom'

By Bharat Dogra*  Leading media organizations have come out in strong support of recently arrested journalist Mohammed Zubair. These organizations include, among others, the Editors Guild of India, the Press Club of India, the Delhi Union of Journalists and DIGIPUB, a platform for several important digital media organizations. All these organizations have condemned the recent arrest of the noted journalist and demanded his immediate release. While leading human rights organizations and political parties have also made somewhat similar statements, the strong support of media organizations is particularly important as the effort of the authorities has been to try to present the arrested journalist as someone who has been indulging in irresponsible journalism.  In such a situation the support of those media organizations who are familiar with his work and who are most capable of judging the quality of his work is very important. In this context it is important that some media organization

Majoritarian silence helping Hindutva forces 'handover' national resources to corporates

By Bhabani Shankar Nayak*  The majority of Indian citizens are witnessing the persecution and everyday violence against their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities. The growing assaults on reason, science, secularism, Indian democracy and constitution are going to be landmarks in Indian history of diminishing democracy and citizenship rights. It is clear that Hindutva ideology is directly promoting sectarian politics of hate which is dangerous for the unity and integrity of India, peace and prosperity of Indians. The majoritarian silence helps in empowering Hindutva and their electoral dividends. From witnessing the persecution in the sidelines to the active participation and cheering loud or silence accelerates violence against our neighbours and our fellow citizens. How and why do majority of Indians stay silent and contribute to the persecution of their fellow citizens who are Muslims and religious minorities? The question baffles me as an Indian because I have gr

Electricity Bill: Centre's reform measures contain 'carrot and stick package' for states

Counterview Desk  The Peoples’ Commission on Public Sector and Public Services (PCPSPS), claiming to be a network of eminent academics, jurists, erstwhile administrators, trade unionists and social activists, seeking consultations with stakeholders with those who are against the government’s decision to monetise, disinvest and privatise public assets/enterprises, has said that the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill-2022 will have far-reaching impacts on the finances of states. Insisting that the proposed Bill would lead to “assault on India’s federal structure”, in a statement, it says, it would weaken the finances of states’ power distribution companies, have adverse impact on utility employees, cripple the states' finances, impose a heavy cost burden on the smaller subsidized consumers (especially farmers), and benefit only corporate business houses. “States cannot afford to ignore the far-reaching implications of the Bill on their economy, finances, agricultural and industria

Cops 'refuse to register' complaint after BSF shot landless worker off Bangla border

By Our Representative  Kirity Roy, secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), and national convener, Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI), in a complaint to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), referring to the incident of “firing and execution” of a poor Muslim youth, has alleged that the 26 year old was was shot at “without giving any warning” one and half kilometers inside the Indian territory from Bangladesh border by an on- duty Border Security Force (BSF) personnel. Stating that the person, Ruhul Mondal, belonged to an Other Backward Class (OBC), and hailed from Ramnarayan Para village under Sagarpara police station in Murshidabad district, West Bengal, Roy in his representation said, the BSF person who shot at him is “attached with Singpara Border Outpost, 141 Battalion”, underlining, the BSF has now floated “self defense theory” to cover up its operation. According to the BSF officials, the incident took place in the jute fields in