The separation from Bihar to become an independent state, Jharkhand, has always been pressed for, demanded and justified by giving two strong reasons: one, the need for a separate identity for its indigenous population, and the other, sustainable development for its poverty stricken population.
Unfortunately, both agenda seem to have remained unfinished and undelivered even after 20 years of formation of Jharkhand.
What makes it more worrisome is that nobody seems to bother about it, neither the government, nor the public.
The latest report published by Niti Aayog on the states complying 16-point sustainable development goal, set according to UN vision 2030, shows that Jharkhand is on 27th rank among 28 states of the country, only a step ahead of Bihar, which is on the last rank.
Although Jharkhand has improved 3 points from the last year’s performance but it is still not worth celebrating.
Sadly, the data show a remarkable drop in the parameters related to hunger, industrialisation and infrastructure development even when compared with last year’s performance.
The problem of malnutrition, anaemia, and height issues among the children in below 5 years group is rampant in Jharkhand.
The mortality rate in this age group is also alarming too.
Now, the question arises as to whether formation of a separate state has achieved anything substantial for the common people of the state?
Have we been able to perform better with more efficiency compared to the parent state?
If we are unable to take care of even our children and lactating mothers, how can we dream of becoming a developed state?
The different political parties, that have ruled Jharkhand till date, can play blame games. However, the reality is that sufficient measures have not been taken up by any political party or state leadership at any point of time.
Giving opportunities for better life to the poor and taking good care of newborns could never become part of the priority list for any government.
The Government needs to utilise and mobilise its resources. We have dedicated officers, fund, doctors, teachers, anganbadi sewikas, sahiyas working at the ground level. Only the commitment from the government side is missing to bring them together to achieve the goal.
The NSS and NCC volunteers of academic institutions can be instrumental in this.
They are young and enthusiastic and are willing to serve people. The government should rope them in to co-ordinate with local officers & pradhans of the villages to provide food, education, clothes, basic health and digital services to the common man.
The government must give them academic credit for this work. It can also act as a bridge between rural and urban population and fill the divide.
We need to understand that if we are dreaming of becoming a welfare socialist state, every citizen counts.
No state can rise with a half-fed population.
It’s not just about the rank where we stand in SDG index.
It’s a question of humanity and dignity that seems to be at stake. Certainly, we would not want to dodge this important challenge.
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