October 13, 2002
Jharkhand: a potential unfulfilled
Politics of Development and Identity
by Amit Prakash.
Orient Longman, Hyderabad. Pages 382. Rs 525.
publication of the book could hardly have been more timely, with the
newly created state of Jharkhand receiving the attention of the
civil society as the domicile issue hangs fire, igniting ethnic
violence. The book enables us to understand this simmering identity
politics, often articulated in the form of radicalism, by analysing
the evolution and transformation of the Jharkhandi identity over the
past half century.
The author seeks to
establish that the very process of the formation of political
identity in Jharkhand, with its unique ethno-cultural connotations,
has been correlated with the process of the implementation of public
policies. The failure of the developmental state in ameliorating the
social and economic problems encouraged the historically marginal
societal groups in Jharkhand into "self-conscious ethnic
identities in order to augment their political resources and
influence the policy process in their own favour’. Prakash argues
that the sub-national movement in Jharkhand is an example where
features of tribal cultural heritage over the years combined with
the poor socio-economic condition of the region to forge a
politically significant ethnic identity on a regional basis. The
movement to begin with had an anti-non-tribal component and revolved
around the issues of autonomy and development of the tribal
communities. However, as the demographic character of the region
underwent change over the years with only one fourth of the total
population being of tribal origin at present, the ethnic elite had
to shed the exclusionary nature of the movement by including all
people that settled in the region being termed as Jharkhandis.