Jharkhand (pronounced ) is a state in eastern India. It was carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000. Jharkhand shares its border 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. It has an area of 79,714 km2 Or . The industrial city of Ranchi is its capital and Dumka is sub capital while Jamshedpur is the largest and the biggest industrial city of the state. Some of the other major cities and industrial centres are Dhanbad, Bokaro and Hazaribagh.
The name "Jharkhand" means "The Land of Forests".
According to some writers like Gautam Kumar Bera, there was already a distinct geo-political, cultural entity called Jharkhand even before the period of Magadha Empire. Bera's book (page 33) also refers to the Hindu Mythological book Bhavishya Purana. The tribal rulers, some of whom continue to thrive till today were known as the Munda Rajas, who basically had ownership rights to large farmlands. During the Mughal period, the Jharkhand area was known as Kukara.
After the year 1765, it came under the control of the British Empire and became formally known under its present title, "Jharkhand"—the Land of "Jungles" (forests) and "Jharis" (bushes). Located on Chhota Nagpur Plateau and Santhal Parganas, the place has evergreen forests, rolling hills and rocky plateaus with many places of keen beauty like Lodh Falls.
The subjugation and colonisation of Jharkhand region by the British East India Company resulted in spontaneous resistance from the local people. Almost one hundred years before Indian Rebellion of 1857, adivasis of Jharkhand were already beginning what would become a series of repeated revolts against the British colonial rule:
The period of revolts of the Adivasis to protect their Jharkhand land took place from 1771 to 1900 AD. The first ever revolt against the landlords and the British government was led by Tilka Manjhi, a Santhal leader in Santal tribal belt in 1771. He wanted to liberate his people from the clutches of the unscrupulous landlords and restore the lands of their ancestors. The British government sent its troops and crushed the uprisings of Tilka Manjhi. Soon after in 1779, the Bhumij tribes rose in arms against the British rule in Manbhum, now in West Bengal. This was followed by the Chero tribes unrest in Palamau. They revolted against the British rule in 1800 AD. Hardly seven years later in 1807, the Oraons in Barway murdered their big landlord of Srinagar west of Gumla. Soon the uprisings spread around Gumla. The tribal uprisings spread eastward to neighbouring Tamar areas of the Munda tribes. They too rose in revolt in 1811 and 1813. The Hos in Singhbhum were growing restless and came out in open revolt in 1820 and fought against the landlords and the British troops for two years. This is called the Lakra Kol Risings 1820–1821. Then came the great Kol Risings of 1832. This was the first biggest tribal revolt that greatly upset the British administration in Jharkhand. It was caused by an attempt by the Zamindars to oust the tribal peasants from their hereditary possessions. The Santhal rebellion broke out in 1855 under the leadership of two brothers Sidhu and Kanhu. They fought bitterly against the British troops but finally they too were crashed down. Other notable Adivasi warriors are Jabra Paharia, Veer Budhu Bhagat, Poto Sardar, Telenga Kharia, Phulo-Jhano, Maki Munda, Gaya Munda.
Then Birsa Munda revolt, broke out in 1895 and lasted till 1900. The revolt though mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada and Bandgaon, pulled its supporters from Oraon belt of Lohardaga, Sisai and even Barway. It was the longest and the greatest tribal revolt. It was also the last tribal revolt in Jharkhand. All of these uprisings were quelled by the British through massive deployment of troops across the region.
British Government faced a lot of tribal revolt in Chhota Nagpur Division. Wherever resistance to British rule existed they tried to divide them. The policy of "Divide and rule" was made effective by Lord Curzon, when he was Governor General of India. He carried out Partition of Bengal in 1905, when the Princely states of Gangpur and Bonai of Chota Nagpur States were transferred from the control of Commissioner of Chhota Nagpur Division to Orissa division and Princely states of Jashpur, Surguja, Udaipur, Chang Bhakar and Koriya were transferred from Chhota Nagpur Division to Chhattisgarh Division of Central Provinces, leading to shrinkage of Chhota Nagpur Division. Due to popular resistance to Partition of Bengal, the two Bengals were united in 1912 by Governor General Harding and the province of Bihar—Orissa was created by taking out of Bengal the Bihar division, Chhota Nagpur Division and Orissa division. During this creation Midnapur, Purulia and Bankura remained with Bengal. Thus, whenever there was reorganisation of Provinces, Chhota Nagpur Division lost some area. Thus during British rule, tribal areas, although geographically continuous, were put under different administrations. As a result of this, when India gained independence in 1947 and after the Princely states acceded to Government of India in 1948, the Princely states of magadha were put under Orissa province, Princely states of Jashpur, Surguja, Udaipur, Chang Bhakar and Koriya were put under Madhya Pradesh and Midnapur, Purulia and Bankura were put under West Bengal. Princely states of Gangpur and Bonai were combined together to form Sundergarh District. Princely states of Koriya and Chang bhakar were combined together to form Koriya district and Udaipur was included in Raigarh District.
The 20th century Jharkhand movement may also be seen as moderate movement as compared to the bloody revolts of the 19th century. Having the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 to protect their lands, the tribal leaders now turned to socio-economic development of the people. In 1914 Jatra Oraon started what is called the Tana Movement. Later this movement joined the Satyagrah Movement of Mahatma Gandhi in 1920 and stopped giving land tax to the Government. In 1915 the Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj was started for the socio-economic development of the tribals. This organisation had also political objectives in mind. When the Simon Commission came to Patna in 1928, the Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj sent its delegation and placed its demand for a separate Jharkhand State for self-rule by the tribals. The Simon Commission however did not accede to the demand for a separate Jharkhand State. Thereafter Theble Oraon organised Kishan Sabha in 1931. In 1935 the Chhotanagpur Unnati Samaj and the Kishan Sabha were merged with a view to acquire political power.
Jharkhand Movement: post-Indian independence
For almost six decades the movement had been changing colour and strategy to gain a foothold. Gradually, the Jharkhand Party grew politically stronger but the commissions examining the demands for a separate Jharkhand State rejected it one after another. In August 1947 the Thakkar Commission rejected it saying that it would not be beneficial for the Adivasis. In 1948 Dar Commission also examined the demand for a separate Jharkhand state but rejected it on linguistic grounds. Despite these reports of these commissions going negative in nature, Jharkhand Party never lost sight of its ultimate target: a separate state of Jharkhand. Jharkhand Party contested the 1952 elections with a declared aim of strengthening the demand of a tribal homeland and won 32 seats in the Bihar Assembly. In the second General Election in 1957, too, Jharkhand Party won 32 seats and for two terms the party remained the leading opposition party. In 1955 the Report of the State Reorganisation Commission came out. Here, too, the demand for a separate Jharkhand state was rejected. In the third general election in 1962 the party could win only 23 seats in the Bihar Assembly. Personal interests of the Jharkhand leaders started playing upper hands. The following year Jharkhand Party aligned with Congress and Jaipal Singh became a minister in Vinodanand Jha's government in Bihar. With this, the demand for the Tribal Homeland was put into cold storage for nearly a decade.
In the 4th General Election held in 1967 the party had a very poor show. It could win only eight Assembly seats. The party was soon split into several splinter groups each claiming to be the genuine Jharkhand party. These were the All India Jharkhand Party led by Bagun Sumroi, the Jharkhand Party led by N.E. Horo, the Hul Jharkhand Party led by Justin Richard which got further fragmented and came to be called the Bihar Progressive Hul Jharkhand Party and it was led by Shibu Soren. The movement was infused with a new radicalism when Santhal leader Shibu Soren formed the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) in league with the Marxist co-ordination Committee in 1972. In its early years, the JMM under Soren's leadership, brought industrial and mining workers mainly non-tribals belonging to Dalit and Backward communities such as Surdis, Doms, Dusadh and Kurmi-Mahtos, into its fold. However Soren's association with the late congress M.P. Gyanranjan brought him close to then prime minister of India, Indira Gandhi, in New Delhi. He won the Dumka Lok Sabha seat in 1972. Irked by Soren's association with the Congress, a few of the younger members of the JMM banded together in Jamshedpur and set up the All Jharkhand Students' Union (AJSU). This did nothing to stunt the growth of the JMM in the 1991 Lok Sabha election where the JMM won six seats.
That year saw the emergence of another foreign educated scholar, Ram Dayal Munda, who reignited the movement by unifying splinter groups among the tribals. Under his guidance the Jharkahnd Coordination Committee was constituted in June 1987, comprising 48 organisations and group including the JMM factions. Due to Munda, Soren, Mandal and AJSU leaders like Surya Singh Besra and Prabhakar Tirkey briefly shared a political platform. But the JMM pulled out of JCC as it felt that 'the collective leadership was a farce'. The JMM/AJSU and JPP successfully orchestrated bandhs, economic blockades in 1988–89. In the interim, BJP came out with its demand for a separate "Vananchal" state comprising 18 districts of Bihar, arguing that demand for a greater Jharkhand is "not practical".
In response, Buta Singh, the then home minister, asked Ram Dayal Munda, the then Ranchi University vice chancellor, to prepare a report on Jharkhand. Munda handed his report in September 1988, advising the Home Ministry to grant 'autonomy' to 'Greater Jharkhand'. In August 1989, the Union Home Ministry formed a committee on Jharkhand Matters (CoJM) to look into the issue. These were followed by further talks between the then Bihar Chief Minister, Satyendra Narayan Sinha, the central government and Jharkhand groups. In September 1989 the COJM submitted its report proposing the alternatives to the formation of a greater Jharkhand, a Union Territory or a Jharkhand general council. In 1995 the Jharkhand Area Autonomous Council (JAAC) was set up after a tripartite agreement was signed by the Union government represented by the then minister of state for home, Rajesh Pilot, the Bihar government represented by the chief minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jharkhand leaders like Soren, Munda, Mandal, Besra and Tirkey. Horo did not sign this agreement. He dubbed the JAAC as the 'fraud' and stuck to his demand for Tribal Homeland. So did the AJSU and JPP.
Jharkhand—a separate state
The state of Jharkhand became a functioning reality on 15 November 2000 after almost half a century of people's movements around Jharkhandi identity, which disadvantaged societal groups articulated to augment political resources and influence the policy process in their favour. Its the 28th state of India. The Jharkhandi identity and the demand for autonomy was not premised solely on the uniqueness of its tribal cultural heritage but was essentially a fallout of the failure of development policy to intervene in socio-economic conditions of the adivasis and non-adivasis in the region.
The dynamics of resources and the politics of development still influence the socio-economic structures in Jharkhand, which was carved out of the relatively 'backward' southern part of Bihar. According to the 1991 census, the state has a population of over 20 million out of which 28% is tribal while 12% of the people belong to scheduled castes. Jharkhand has 24 districts, 212 blocks and 32,620 villages out of which only 45% are electrified while only 8,484 are connected by roads. Jharkhand is the leading producer of mineral wealth in the country after Chattisgarh state, endowed as it is with vast variety of minerals like iron ore, coal, copper ore, mica, bauxite, graphite, limestone, and uranium. Jharkhand is also known for its vast forest resources.
This paradoxical development profile of Jharkhand is combined with the fact that distortions in distribution and access to resources have made little difference to the lives of ordinary people. However, the people of the region are politically mobilised and self-conscious and are actively seeking better bargains for their state. The people in Jharkhand have the advantage of being culturally vibrant, as reflected in the diversity of languages spoken, festivals celebrated, and variety of folk music, dances, and other traditions of performing arts.