Jharkhand Development and Aspirations of the Tribals

Dr. P. DashSharma

Methodology of Study
Policy Implications


    In 1980 I edited a book entitled "The Passing Scene in Chotanagpur" which was published by a local publisher of Ranchi. It was the first publication of Sarat Chandra Roy Institute of Anthropological Studies to commemorate Sarat Chandra Roy, the Father of Indian Anthropology. I wrote thus in the Preface of the book "Sitting here at the desk between the tall windows of the study room of late Sarat Chandra Roy at his spacious Church Road house, I am wondering how to introduce this book, which I conceived about a year back. The portrait of Sarat Chandra Roy hanging on the back wall of my desk, giving me a feeling, that my activities in this room are being keenly observed by the one who in the flesh moved in this very room some thirty-eight years back."

    It was a fine evening in the month of February 1979 sitting in this room, relaxing after my day's library work and discussing with Miss Mira Roy [youngest daughter of late S.C.Roy ] about the uncertain future of this great collection of about four thousand book [ it must have crossed more than six thousand by this time], that I started thinking seriously to develop a memorial institute to preserve the works of this great scholar. In the middle of April 1979 I decided to publish a book in memory of Sarat Chandra Roy. In the third week of April I decided to publish a book in memory of Sarat Chandra Roy. In the third week of April 1979 I had to be away from Ranchi for a field study at Netarhat [154 km west of Ranchi. It is a plateau covered with thick forests and situated at a height of 3,700 feet. Generally people visit this place to enjoy its breathtaking sunrise and sunset It is a tribal dominated area.] on either side for six weeks working among the Kisan and the Birjia of Netarhat plateau. It is in this field that I developed the title "The Passing Scene in Chotanagpur" for this memorial volume. My observations and experience which I had during my travel from Ranchi to Netarhat through Gumla road after crossing the Ratu block tell me and which I can recollect now, give the impression with extensive paddy fields, corn fields, touching the horizon, sometime lined with distant hill ranges, and with scattered small huts thatched with dried straw, or roofed with red mud tiles (khapra) here and there and occasionally clustered huts close to the bus stands or near the developing urban centres and some khalihans [paddy thrashing and winnowing area] near the corner of the paddy fields. This landscape is still visible when one moves away from Ranchi towards Gumla, or towards Tatanagar or Khunti region. Nothing much has changed in the countryside even after quarter of a century from my first visit to Netarhat in the year 1975.

    The State of Jharkhand was created after bifurcating Bihar, a long cherished dream of the tribals of the area which came to reality on 15th November 2000, for which they struggled hard tenaciously through peaceful agitation for about sixty years. Formation of the State of Jharkhand [the youngest state of the country] could happen only under a non-Congress government at the Centre. Recently the Jharkhand Government celebrated its 3rd Anniversary as Establishment Day on 15th November 2003. And as it happens in such political celebrations, it was all rhetoric, dreamy assurances and make-believe promises to the common man of Jharkhand. The Hindustan Times supplement on Jharkhand 3rd anniversary is boldly lined with interesting catchy headings. Some of them are as follows:

"Welfare State my priority"—The Chief Minister, Shri Arjun Munda

    Shri Arjun Munda writes, "I believe in Bhagidari (partnership). In tribal State like Jharkhand, the tribals need to have 'equitable participation' in the development process. The tribals should not be used for their lands and discarded thereafter. They should be made partners in the enterprise set up on their land. By 2020 I aim to ensure their Bhagidari"

"Open doors to development"

— Shri G.Krishnan,

    Former Chief secretary of Jharkhand  Krishnan writes " When Jharkhand became the youngest State of the country … it had the most industrially advanced cities in its fold and above all it had people with a vibrant tribal culture. … It also had very high percentage of its people below poverty line, one of the lowest literacy rates in the country, probably the lowest literacy rate among the tribal female population. It had very high incidence of Malaria, a very large segment of population suffering from malnutrition and a very high infant mortality rate. The problem of shortage of drinking war too was acute during the height of summer. "

    The State Development Report which was commissioned by the Planning Commission with assistance of the State Government and prepared by XLRI was a step to take care of these problems. Development would basically mean improving the quality of life of the people. Essentially it would mean reducing the percentage of people living below poverty line to a very low figure, much lower than the national average.

"Development index zero"—

says Stephen Marandi, Leader of the Opposition

    "Three years have gone by since the formation of the State but the government has sadly missed out on all aspects of development. The age-old feelings of brotherhood , which existed amongst the people of the State has become the first casualty and today great animosity can be seen amongst all sections of the society.

    A Hindustan Times correspondent cited a report on 19 November " State precariously placed". "An overview of the population, health and social development scenario of Jharkhand presented by UNFPA advisor Dr Almas Ali and Dr B.P.Thiangarajan, Joint Director, Population Foundation of India have argued on the basis of strong data base that " perhaps no other state in India is as adversely placed in the context of development as Jharkhand, notwithstanding its immense industrial and mineral potential".

    The report says that the root cause of overall poor health status of Jharkhand is poverty —both income and human related, social deprivation, low literacy rate, specially among the females, and structural inequalities in terms of class, caste and sex. Thus, most of the disease burden in Jharkhand is directly or indirectly attributed to poverty. The other causes of ill health are education levels, awareness levels, low-level of social investment on health, geographical inaccessibility and not so efficient functioning of the government health machinery.

Nutritional Status of Jharkhand

  • 1 in 9 children dies in first year of life

  • 1 in 3 dies before the age of 5 years

  • Girls are more likely to be stunted and boys waisted

  • 54% of children under 3 years are underweight, 49% stunted; 25% waisted

  • Just 26% children aged 6-9 months receive breast milk and mushy food

  • Only 6.5 % children is fully vaccinated

  • 32% children was never vaccinated

  • 2 out of 5 women are undernourished

  • Anaemia in young children is 70%

  • Anaemia in women is as high as 72.5%

  • 40% women has chronic energy deficiency

Unhealthy Figures in Health Report of Jharkhand





Health Sub-Centre




Primary Health Centre




Community Centres




Sub-Division Hospital




Health Posts





    According to the Government of India guidelines there should be 7260 health sub-centres in the rural areas but there are only 4462 sub-centres. Unfortunately the erstwhile Bihar government built only 37 referral hospitals in the 37 blocks and ignored the other blocks. Worst still for the 44 statutory and 108 census towns there should have been 1740 health posts for the urban areas. Against this not a single health post was created by the erstwhile Bihar government or for that matter the present government during the last year. In a recently conducted study it has been found that the total number of non-diet beds in the State are 3366 in the government health-care system. Similarly in the diet category, there are 6735 beds. In the matter of availability of doctors from the MBBS, allopathic stream there is one doctor for 21,520 people.

    We can understand from these figures the state of development in the State of Jharkhand, as the health status being a reflection of the socio-economic development of a state. The two-day conference [17-18 November, 2003] on " Population Stabilisation, Health and Social Development in Jharkhand" was recently concluded at Ranchi where the experts, policy makers and the planners arrived at a consensus that massive efforts are needed to uplift health services in Jharkhand. The experts were unanimous that best results in the field of health could only be achieved through the combined efforts of Government and NGO, in view of the poor health facility in the State.

    A very large area of the State has been declared a malaria zone by the World Health Organization and hundreds die of it each year. The steps taken by the government to redress this problem have hardly produced the results they were supposed to. Even after three years the people of the State are forced to drink polluted water. Officials who are totally insensitive to the aspirations of the tribals of the State today occupy important posts. The dreams of Birsa Munda, Sidhu-Kanu , Jaipal Singh, Kartik Oraon and the countless who had sacrificed their lives during the Jharkhand movement are being trampled.

    We understand the reasons of the ire of the leader of the opposition Shri Stephen Marandi, which he voiced through his article presented on the occasion of the third anniversary of the State. However, the aspirations of the tribals are very high though the development scenario is not very encouraging in Jharkhand.

    Though the government records suggest a very poor over all picture of the development process in the rural areas of Jharkhand, however, we find something encouraging is happening among the tribes of Chotanagpur, particularly among the youths of the major tribal groups of the present time.

    We find that the impacts of Hinduism and Christianity have a radical effect on the life and culture of the tribes of Chotanagpur. Though the transforming effect is a slow process, however, it has gradually helped the tribes in developing an inner strength to perceive the realities of the present day situations which have lead to a new kind of social and economic mobility among the educated tribals of Jharkhand. Under the rapidly changing situations during the last few decades which have led to social disruption, conflict, tension and frustration among the tribal peoples of Chotanagpur, a gradual change is now being perceived among the elite who are in search of new identity of self which covers an entire spectrum of educated youths, professionals —- like doctors, lawyers, contractors, teachers and also the tribal school children. For the understanding of the new identity among the tribals of Jharkhand a study was initiated on the aspirations of the educated tribal youths of Ranchi and their parents. This study on the aspiration of the tribal youths is basically a study on the social and economic mobility of the tribals of Jharkhand. The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship in terms of urbanism and the individual modernity and aspirations of the educated tribal youths of Ranchi. Stress has been given specifically to study the aspirations of the students and the jobholders who are residing at Ranchi city. For comparative study some rural samples have also been covered.


    The data collected for the present study on the aspirations of the tribals of Ranchi have been done by interviewing the different categories of the tribals through structured schedules. The study has been specifically designed to cover the tribal students up to the level of the university and those who are in various jobs and services after completing their studies.

    It has been assumed hypothetically that the aspirations of the students and the jobholders would be different. So the hypothesis that the students have different aspirations than the jobholders has been tested in this study through comparative study.

    The methodology followed for studying the aspirations of the educated tribals of Ranchi was interviewing the different categories of the tribals through open ended structured schedules. In the present study more attention was given to the student group which covers about 79.22% of the total sample size(N= 154). The details of the sample collected for the different categories of the tribal groups for the present study are as follows:


  • High School Students (St. Paul’s School, Ranchi city) Sample size 32
  • High School Students ( Project High School- Jonha, Angara) Sample size 43 (Rural sample)
  • College students (Gossner College, Ranchi) Sample size 24
  • University students(P.G.Departments, Ranchi University) Sample size 23
  • Total = 122


School Teachers

  • (Gossner Middle School, Bethesda Girls High School,
  • Elizabeth Girls High School ) Sample size 10
  • College Lecturers (Gossner College ) Sample size 05
  • Government Servants ( A.G.Office / H.E.C.) Sample size 10
  • Total = 25


  • Medical doctors ( Ranchi city) Sample size 03
  • Engineers and technical persons (H.E.C.) Sample size 04
  • Total = 07

Total sample for the present study: Total = 154

Sample size and characteristics of the data collected

    The data have been collected during the months of June to September 2001. In the course of the data collection for the aspiration study among the tribals it was realised that stress should be given more on the student’s sample, as the students are in the process of education and are with dynamism (the emphasis given in the project title). Whereas the jobholders (government servants) and the professionals are already settled in their life and thus have less of dynamism in them as revealed from their answers. This general statement has been tested through the data analysis of the sample collected.

    The students in the process of getting formal education are aspiring for their jobs and security, hence large number of student sample ( about 80% of the total sample) has been collected for the aspiration study.

    For policy planning and policy implication of the aspiration study, the youth and the student groups were found to be the most important sample group for general study, vocational study, entrepreneurship and skill training programmes, hence maximum sample has been covered for this group. Further, for comparative study of the high school students of Ranchi with the high school students of rural area , samples from the high school students from Jonha of Angara block of Ranchi district have also been covered in this study.

    The sample for the present study covering 154 tribal individuals showing the representation of the different tribal groups are as follows:


   The stratified sample of 154 tribal individuals as represented by students, jobholders and professionals have been covered for the present study from Ranchi city. The predominant tribal population in Ranchi city is of the Oraon which is largely represented among the student sample and among those tribals who are in service.

Aspirations of the students

    The aspirations of the school students of Ranchi is very high, as most of them are aspiring for government jobs, banking service, medical and engineering services, while a few are aspiring for business. The most striking feature observed among the students who are studying in rural school is that most of them are not aware of the problems of the professional services, yet they have expressed preferences for jobs and services other than government service. This possibly reflects that rural students are not much exposed to the scope, opportunities and the problems for the jobs and professional courses under the prevailing situations in underdeveloped areas of Chotanagpur.

    The various categories of aspirations of the college students and the educational and occupational levels of their parents indicate that the tribal college students are more aware of the present day job opportunities than their parental generation. It is also observed that the aspiration levels among the college students are changing as they are more exposed in the competitive world of job preferences as compared to the younger group of students represented by the school.

    The study reveals that more than 52% of the tribal students of Ranchi University have expressed aspirations which are of very specific nature, while about 48% of the university students have not expressed their aspirations specifically, probably this is because of their lack of confidence in them. Though about 50% of the students who do not have any specific job preference, however, are aspiring for good financial position and status in the society.

Aspirations of the educated tribals in service:

    The present study reveals that about 72% of the tribals in service at Ranchi belong to the Oraon tribe. The analysis of the different types of jobholders gives interesting results. The three different types of jobholders are giving basically two distinct types of their aspirations. The government servants and the professionals are aspiring for higher salary and status in their jobs and present occupation, while those tribals who are engaged in the teaching profession are mostly aspiring and are interested in the education of their children and social welfare work among the fellow tribals. The self-centred nature of the government servants and the professionals is found to be missing among the teachers of the tribal community. This is a very interesting situation revealed in this study.


    The study on the aspirations of the educated tribals of Ranchi has important policy implications. This study has been specifically taken up among the educated tribals of Ranchi so as to understand the nature of their aspirations, their desire, their ambitions in life. This is a cross-sectional study of the educated tribals of Ranchi. Though the sample size(152 educated tribals) is not very large, nevertheless, some clear picture emerges from this study which has been spelt out in the foregoing chapters. This cross-sectional study also reveals the occupational changes and the aspirations of two generations; that is of the students and their parents on one hand; and the tribals who are in service( average age above 40 years) and their parents. Thus it reflects the tribal occupational and educational changes and their aspirations.

The future planning and programmes in tribal dominated areas in Chotanagpur must address the following:

1. The rural tribal students who are not much exposed to the scope, opportunity and the problems associated with the jobs and professional courses under the prevailing situations in the rural areas, need our most attention for building awareness among them and the rural development programmes in which they can participate and share the responsibilities.

2. There is need for vigorous drive to educate the tribal women students and the lesser known tribal communities about their rights and privileges and the various development programmes initiated for them in the rural areas by the government and the non-government organisations.

3. The self-centred nature of the government servants and the professionals are found missing among the teaching tribal community. This is a very important finding of the study as the educated- tribals who are teachers must be encouraged to involve themselves in development programmes particularly in the rural areas or in their ancestral villages as they are also interested in welfare works apart from teaching. This involvement of the educated tribals is very much desired so as to encourage the younger tribal groups for confidence building and educating the tribal adolescents and the youths of rural areas.

4.Government and the NGOs have to think hard to identify the various job opportunities, vocational studies and various skill training programmes which can be extended to the tribal youths of the rural areas for developing their confidence and image building, and at the same time to evolve some mechanism for them for their earning while learning, which will ultimately help them to identify the systems for generating incremental income for their sustainability.

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