Jharkhand fares among the worst governed states in 2018 as it ranks 28 among states surpassing only Meghalaya and Bihar according to the Public Affairs Index 2018 released by Bengaluru-based think-tank Public Affairs Centre (PAC).
Since the past two years, Jharkhand has held the same rank, thereby showing no improvement in governance. Unlike Andhra Pradesh, which has improved from 14 in 2016 to 9 in 2018? The ranking is based on 10 factors: livery of justice, crime law and order, women and children, social protection, Support to human development, essential infrastructure, transparency and accountability, social protection, fiscal management and environment. These ten themes comprise of 30 focus subjects and 100 indicators to derive the PAI. It is largely based on secondary data which has been extracted from Union Government Ministries and Departments. The two exceptions earlier were the variables related to underweight children and education learning levels, sourced from UNICEF and ASER reports.
Presently, Kerala is the best governed state in the country followed by Tamil Nadu and Telangana..The rankings of states this year are as follows: Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Haryana, Mizoram, Sikkim, Tripura, Chhattisgarh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan, Assam, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Delhi, Nagaland, Odisha, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Manipur, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, and Bihar. Released annually since 2016, the new PAI 2018 report is similar to earlier PAI reports. However, this year, the study has been made more rigorous and comprehensive.The index examines governance performance in the states through a data-based framework, ranking them on social and economic development they are able to provide.
Among smaller states (with population less than two crore), Himachal Pradesh topped the list, followed by Goa, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura, which figured among the top five states with good governance. Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya were ranked at the bottom of the index among small states. It relied solely upon government data. The PAC said it was not keen to access private data sources that may be interpreted as “biased”.
Education is one of the essential requirements for nation building. It is indispensable for development of human resources. Education imparts knowledge, skills, and character. After independence, the government in India relied more on the literacy mission that emphasized on 3Rs (Reading, Writing and Arithmetic) to fulfil the expectations of the Directive Principles of State Policy. At the backdrop of privatisation of colleges and universities being debated recently and the central and state governments supporting the idea, there is a critical attempt to appraise the statistics and status of higher education in Jharkhand.
SOURCE: AISHE 2016-17
The state of Jharkhand was formed on 15 November 2000. According to the 2011 census, the population of the state was 3.29 crores and the literacy rate was 67.63%. As per the 2016- 2017 All India Survey of Higher Education (AISHE), Jharkhand has only 18 universities as compared to 864 spread over the country. Jharkhand has 9 colleges per lakh population compared to the national average of 28 colleges per lakh population.
Apart from lack of infrastructure, another difficulty that encapsulates the state is lack of teachers. As per the AISHE 2016-17, the state has a poor pupil-teacher ratio at 61 compared to 26 nationwide for regular and distance mode.
The state needs proper educational planning to devise it out of the plague of poor higher education that it suffers in the present and the proposal of privatisation of educational system is not the one which will help Jharkhand to come out and be part of the growth of the nation. For education to make any impact, it must be accessible and private institutions are anything but accessible to the general public and the major reason for that is the high fees that they charge .
According to the state government, the privatisation model will benefit us by saving resources and time; improve efficiency of the system; improve performance and promote autonomy which will ensure high quality in higher education. But any private organisation will only put in their capital if they see profit coming out of it . Since education is termed as “non-profit” they do not have much avenue to earn the profits other than if they are allowed to run it “for-profit”. The government has recently allowed Amity to open up their institution in Jharkhand and the average fees of Amity is way beyond the affordability of common person. If the government sees private institutions as a manner to resolve the problem of accessibility they have to deal with this major issue first.
The only way out for Jharkhand is to set up quality government colleges and provide facilities through them so that general masses can bear fruits from them. To conclude, what we can gather from the reports and statistics is Jharkhand has long journey to go in order to make some strides in higher education and the government needs to seriously invest in it instead of mere tokenism .
India’s constitutional forefathers adopted the parliamentary form of democracy after India became an independent country in 1947. India as a nation of teeming millions has also taken a bold step of adopting universal adult suffrage when experts were debating about India’s survival as a nation. This faith is still visible in India’s election processes, as Indian general election is the largest event management exercise on earth during peace times.
The Constitution of India came into force on January 26, 1950. The first general elections to Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies were held simultaneously in 1951-1952. In fact, this practice of simultaneous elections continued till 1967 when due to premature dissolution of State Legislative Assemblies the cycle of the synchronized elections got disrupted. In 1970, the fourth Lok Sabha was dissolved prematurely. The fifth Lok Sabha term was extended till 1977 due to emergency provisions under Article 352 of the Constitution of India. Since then the dissolution of the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies is the order of the day due to the fragmented political system, the emergence of regional parties and indiscriminate use of the power under Article 356 which gives power to the President to declare President’s rule in any state on various grounds. Though after the Supreme Court Judgement in S. R. Bommai vs. Union of India case, the arbitrary use of the Article has come down. The Sixth, Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh, Twelfth and Thirteenth Lok Sabha was dissolved before the end of the term of their respective Lok Sabha. Due to this, the cycle of simultaneous elections got disrupted in the Indian polity for last 48 years.
Simultaneous elections mean a restructuring of the Indian election cycle in a manner that the General Elections for the House of people and the Assembly elections for State Legislative Assemblies are conducted simultaneously. In such condition, voters will cast their vote on a single day and at the same time for electing the members of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies.
WHY DO WE NEED SIMULTANEOUS ELECTIONS?
India is the world’s largest democracy in the world due to its electoral size as well as subcontinental dimensions. Commenting on the size and scale of Indian elections, the Strategic Plan 2016-2025 published by Election commission of India mentions,
“India, in fact, accounts for the largest share of electors in any country, exceeding the total number of electors in the entire American continent, or even that of the entire African continent or that of all the European nations put together”.
It shows the complexity of the election process. However, the independent election commission along with other organizations are doing the humongous job of conducting the election process in a free and fair manner. Despite that, Indian election process is with a number of challenges. If we take the example of the period March 2014 to May 2016, then as per the Election Commission data, 15 State Assembly elections were conducted along with the elections for the 16th Lok Sabha. If we add the elections conducted in the third tier of the Government i.e. the Panchayati Raj Institutions and Municipalities, bye-elections, the number of elections conducted in one year will increase substantially. To manage this situation and reduce the burden on the exchequer, the idea of simultaneous elections was propounded by various political parties as well as the reports of various institutions. 170th Report of the Law Commission of India headed by Justice B. P. Jeevan Reddy, remarked that separate elections should be taken as exception and the rule should be having fix elections ”. In December 2015, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Department of Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice also supported the idea and offered an alternative of holding elections in two phases. It stated that elections to some Legislative Assemblies could be held during the midterm of the Lok Sabha and elections to the remaining assemblies could be held at the end of the Lok Sabha term. It has also given recommendations for fixing the schedule of the bye-elections.NITI Aayog report has analyzed the whole issue extensively and recommended for holding simultaneous elections for the Lok Sabha and the State Legislative Assemblies. The recent India Action Plan- Three Year Action Agenda (2017-2020) also supported the idea of synchronized two-phase elections from the 2024 election to the Lok Sabha.
Therefore, there is a need to understand the implications of frequent elections
Impact on the Political and Administrative functioning of the government: Whenever any elections are conducted in our country, the Election Commission enforces the Model Code of Conduct(MCC) to maintain a free and fair environment for the election process. It is imposed from the date of announcement of the election schedule by the Election Commission and is in force till the whole election process is completed. During this period parties in power as well as other political parties are not allowed to announce welfare schemes or development projects throughout India if it is a General Election. In fact, even during the Assembly election, the Central Government can’t take any decision related to that particular state.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee has articulated this problem stating that, “The imposition of Model Code of Conduct (MCC) puts on hold the entire development program and activities of the Union and State Governments in the poll-bound State. It even affects the normal governance. Frequent elections lead to the imposition of MCC over prolonged periods of time. This often leads to policy paralysis and governance deficit”. If we just take the year of 2014, the governance activities were suspended for around 7 months
Economic and financial impact of the frequent elections: Fighting elections and conducting elections create huge expenditure not only on the government machinery but also for all the political parties and their candidates. The management and the conduct of the elections create a severe strain on the economic and fiscal budget of the Government of India as well as the various state governments. Dr. S. Y. Qureshi in one conference remarked, “…. elections have become the root cause of corruption in the country”. He further mentioned that “…. after winning elections, the politician-bureaucrat nexus indulges in “recovering the investment” and that is where corruption begins”. As per a news report, the expenditure on the general elections 2014 was the highest ever around 3500 crore. Therefore, conducting simultaneous elections will help in saving the tax money and increase the fiscal space which can be used for development activities.
The social impact of the frequent elections: Frequent elections disrupt the normal life of common citizens. Since normal functioning of the fgovernment is on standstill and officials are busy in managing elections, daily activities get disrupted. School teachers are deployed for the election duty which impacts the quality and quantity of the education provided to the children.
But when there are so many benefits of simultaneous elections, it is a surprise that there hasn’t there been a consensus across the political sphere yet. The reason being that the advantage of simultaneous elections doesn’t outweigh the harm that it causes to multi party democracy which is India. Apart from this there are a lot of practical issues, which have to be worked out.
WHY CANNOT INDIA IN THE PRESENT CONTEXT HAVE SIMULTANEOUS ELECTION
Regional parties don’t get political capital- The political narrative at the centre is so strong and dominant that the regional parties fail to make themselves heard. As a result, votes are mobilized through rallying on the central narrative, which is beyond the reach of the regional parties. The instruments through which this happens are manyfold. It can be the media which runs on ratings and senisalization or plain financial might of these large parties.
The Election Commision of India has pointed out several difficulties which might be encountered for conducting simultaneous elections. The chief issue highlighted by them is that simultaneous conduct of elections would require large scale purchase of Electronic Voting Machines and Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail (VVPAT) machines, the Commission expects that a total of INR 9284.15 crores will be needed for procurement of EVMs and VVPATs. Further, storing these machines would increase the warehousing cost.
Political instability and conflict with Constitution- If the government fails their will be midterm polls in states, due to political instability in the States. To conduct the elections simultaneously all the Legislative Assemblies cannot be unilaterally abolished for no fault of them. A conjoint reading of Articles 83(2) and 172(1) of Constitution makes it clear that tenure of Lok Sabha and State Legislative Assemblies cannot be extended beyond five years except in the case of proclamation of emergency. In case simultaneous elections were to be conducted either the tenure of Lok Sabha or some of the state legislative assemblies has to be extended beyond five years which is not permissible under aforesaid Articles of the constitution. The government of the day needs to enjoy the confidence of the House during its entire tenure. It can fall due to loss of majority at any point of time during that tenure.
Neither the Lok Sabha nor the state legislative assemblies could be prematurely dissolved to synchronize general elections to Lok Sabha and state legislative assemblies.
When UDAY (Ujwal DISCOM Assurance Yojana) was announced by the central government in 2015 to improve the condition of debt-laden DISCOMS, Jharkhand was the first to provide in principle approval and sign a MoU with the central government. Many thought that the scheme would do wonders and take the state out of a long looming energy crisis. However, in spite of all the natural resources in Jharkhand and targets on paper, the situation of energy supply is only worsening in the state.
SOURCE: MERCOM INDIA
One of the objectives of the scheme was to reduce AT&C losses to 15% by March 2019. AT&C loss refers to the sum total of technical and commercial losses and shortage due to non-realization of billed amount. Even when the figures are gradually reducing across India the effect of the scheme is far too distant to be seen in Jharkhand. After overshooting its target consistently, Jharkhand DISCOM (JBVNL) is now witnessing an increase in its losses. Jharkhand experienced 31.8% loss against the target of 22%, even higher than last year when 29.9% loss was recorded.
Jharkhand DISCOM is also experiencing a huge gap betweeSOURCE: REALTYPLUSMAGn the cost of supply and revenue realised (ACS-ARR gap). Because of high technical and commercial loss, Jharkhand is incurring 57 paise loss on each unit they produce whereas the average across India has been reduced to 22 paise per unit. Adding to the problem, all such losses are to be handled by the state government as per the scheme. This adds up the burden of heavy fiscal deficit already being faced by Jharkhand.
This pathetic condition of DISCOM has led to an energy crisis across the state with an average 95.21 hours of power cut in May. In spite of all the promises of CM Raghubar Das, the situation is only getting worse day by day. To fulfill his promise of 24 hour electricity supply in a near future, CM Das must improve the state of energy supply at the present. Such complacent nature from DISCOM and shifting the economic burden on common households will not be able to sustain Jharkhand and its energy requirement for long.
Nutrition is the intake of food, considered in relation to the body’s dietary needs. Good nutrition as defined by WHO is an adequate, well balanced diet combined with regular physical activity. Deficiencies, excesses or imbalances in a person’s intake of energy and or nutrients can lead to malnutrition. Malnutrition includes conditions like stunting (low height for age), wasting (low weight for height), underweight (low weight) and also the obesity or diet related non-communicable diseases like heart attack, diabetes etc.
The health indicators of women in the state reflect a very poor condition, where 62.6 percent of women in the age group 15-49 years are anaemic and the data also shows that only 15 percent of pregnant women consumed iron and folic supplements for 100 or more days during pregnancy. This anaemic condition of mother cycles to the anaemic children and the legacy continues. Jharkhand has 69 percent (2nd highest in the country) anaemic children in the age group 6 to 59 months.
Jharkhand has performed worst in most of health indicators for a long time, but there have been improvement from 2005-06 to 2015-2016 in key indicators. Jharkhand has shown a substantial decrease of 25 and 15 percentage point in the proportion of women aged 20-24 who got married before the age of 18 and women of the age 15-19 years who were already mothers or pregnant at the time of the survey.
Jharkhand is the 10th poorest state by per capita income in India. It spent 1.14 percent of its GDP on health in 2015-16, which is less than the average of 1.35 percent of GDP as spent by EAG states and 1.18 percent of GDP as spent by the country. Apart from the expenditure, the state has also made it difficult for the poor to get ration from the Public Distribution System by mandating compulsory attachment of Aadhar and biometrics based verification. The state has seen at least 12 cases of alleged starvation deaths in last 10 months. Seven of these deaths are allegedly because of the victims not getting ration due to Aadhaar seeding issues. The victims in these cases are mostly from the Dalit and Tribal population, in specific to whom, the health indicators are worst performing in the state.
Poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to disease, impaired physical and mental development, and reduced productivity. In order to tackle the poor nutritional state of Jharkhand, the government launched Jharkhand Nutrition Mission (JNM) in November, 2015. The mission targets to achieve malnutrition free Jharkhand in 10 years i.e. 2025 by providing technical leadership for nutrition specific and sensitive interventions. However, launching of mission is not sufficient for a state like Jharkhand which has a history of malnutrition. The state needs to allocate adequate funds, devise people friendly multi-sectoral interventions and real-time monitoring in the health sector.
 The eight socioeconomically backward states of Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Uttaranchal and Uttar Pradesh, referred to as the Empowered Action Group (EAG) states.
The Jharkhand government’s pilot project of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) in Nagri block of Ranchi district has severely impacted the local community. DBT was introduced in October 2017 as part of the food security scheme. Earlier, people used to take their ration cards to the local dealer and purchase rice at Re 1/kg, with each member of a priority household allotted five kg. After the introduction of DBT, money of Rs 31/kg for allocated amount of grains is first transferred into each household’s Aadhaar-linked bank account. Once they receive the money, they have to withdraw the cash from banks or local Pragya Kendra or business correspondent. After this, the ration card holders take cash to the local ration dealer and buy rice at Rs 32/kg by adding Re 1/kg.
This new system is creating chaos for the people, so much so they are demanding the old imperfect system. The problems include several visits to banks, pragya kendras and local business correspondent to withdraw the money. Some banks are denying that the payments are too small for them to carry out transactions. There are also cases where, an individual’s thumb impression is registered with the biometric system in the PDS (ration) shop. But the subsidy amount is credited into another family member’s or children’s bank account. People are also using their own money to buy rice from the ration shop because they are receiving warning notices that their cards would be cancelled.
To examine the impact of this scheme, multiple surveys have been conducted by various stakeholders. A study by the Right to Food Campaign found that 97% of the respondents wanted the old PDS system. A recent social audit conducted by Jharkhand State government found that 8,370 ration card holders across 13 gram panchayats were surveyed for the audit and 96.9% of them wanted to go back to the old PDS system. Out of 38 villages surveyed, 36 clearly declared that they did not want the DBT system. The other two gram sabhas said the DBT system would be acceptable after it is reformed completely. Additionally, the report found that on an average, cardholders spent 13.1 hours trying to withdraw their recent DBT installment and purchase rice. It also mentioned that cardholders had withdrawn their DBT payments an average of 3.6 times in the last six months. In addition, while respondents had withdrawn their DBT payments an average of 3.6 times in the last six months, they had purchased rice on an average of 4.1 times – showing that they were using their own money, and so spending Rs 31/kg more than they had to, in certain months, as reported by The Wire.
The DBT system became a huge burden for beneficiaries in Nagri and made a mockery of their rights under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). Instead of receiving subsidised food grains, they were forced to pay much more than the local market price to purchase rice. The system also made people to spend lot of time to collect the ration. The most affected people are those living in the remote areas, poor and elderly.
As per the National Food Secuirty Act (NFSA) , those who do not receive their food rations are to be compensated with a ‘food security allowance’. The rules framed for this purpose require state governments to pay the allowance within three weeks of the month in which the entitlement is denied. However, the Jharkhand government didn’t initiate any move to compensate the households. Unfortunately, the food minister’s response was “nowadays there is a ‘fashion’ of DBT and that other states have also initiated similar experiments”. If this continues, the fate of PDS in Jharkhand remains to be seen and questioned.
In spite of having country’s 30% of coal reserves and enormous Damodar Valley Project in its backyard, Jharkhand is facing major power shortage for years now. The situation has been worse in last couple of months with the state facing more than 95 hours of average power cut per month in May.
The data obtained from Urja App shows the poor situation of electricity supply in Jharkhand. Jharkhand consistently remained the worst performing state with most number and highest duration of power cuts from February 2017 to May 2018. The numbers look even scarier when we compare the situation with other states. There were 95:21 hours of average power cuts in May, nine times more than the country’s average. No other state comes close to Jharkhand with Jammu and Kashmir being the second with 36:40 hours of average power cut.
The comparison of Jharkhand to India show how badly Jharkhand is lagging behind in terms of Energy sufficiency. The figures for the entire country shows around 8 hours of average power cut with the number of average power cuts per month is as low as 11.4.
PICTURES OF URJA APPS
In addition to such poor state of energy supply, instead of improving the quality over the years turning in lesser power cuts, Jharkhand shows an upward trend with more power cuts across the state this year than in the same months last year.
Average Duration of Power Cuts (in hours)/ Month
GRAPH WITH GREEN AND BLUE LINES
The situation is even worse in the urban hubs. Ranchi faced 105.18 hours of average power cuts in May 2018 with the figures being consistently above 45 hours a month for last couple of months. Bokaro Steel City witnessed almost 80 hours of power cut in April.
Jharkhand has an enormous capacity to produce power and not only sustain itself, but other parts of the country. Ample resources in form of rivers, pockets of strong wind force, adequate sunshine, and huge coal reserves are available. However, steps that are being taken by the government to harvest these resources into electricity are slow and need to be streamlined. The government website mentions multiple projects, however most of them are still in initial stages and far from satisfying the state’s power requirements.
The Jharkhand government has been desperately looking for private investments to boost employment opportunities and control migration. However, with the current state of energy infrastructure and power cuts will certainly have a negative impact over such attempts. In order to attract investors and industries, the Jharkhand government must set their priority straight and strongly look upon the quality of electricity supply.
Pathalgadi: A Movement For Adivasi AutonomyDriven by the dream of Gram Swaraj, villages across the country are joining the Pathalgadi movement in order to assert their autonomy,. Considering Gram Sabha as the chief administrative body, these villages, falling under Schedule V areas, have claimed special rights under the Constitution and Provisions of Panchayat (Extension in Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996.
The traditional Pathalgadi rituals have been in place in the tribal societies for ages. The rituals reflected respect towards their forefathers and deceased with their memories engraved upon the stone slabs. However, the tradition took a political turn recently, with tribes asserting their rights by engraving legal provisions upon the stone slab as a sign of protest. The growing influence of Sati-Pati cult over the region and hostile nature of state and central government towards Adivasis and their traditions have further fueled the protest.
Adivasi also claim rights under Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 (CNTA) and Santhal Paragana Tenancy Act, 1949 (SPTA). These Acts recognise collective ownership of the land for different tribes. They further assert that such special status under PESA and CNTA/SPTA is warranted by Article 13, 19(5), 19(6), 244 and Schedule V of the Constitution.
But, is it unconstitutional or anti-national?
The constitutional provisions mentioned above provide special status and protection to Adivasis and their traditions. These include respect towards customs under Article 13 and restriction over Right to move freely, reside and settle by existing laws for the interest of Scheduled Tribes under Article 19 (5). Article 244 (1) read with Schedule V also provides for establishment of Tribes Advisory Council (TAC) to consult Governor for implementation of any law in Scheduled Areas
However, all these provisions are frequently flouted and ignored by both state and central government. In practice, all laws are automatically applicable in Schedule V areas, TAC rarely meets and the Governor never submits report to the President as required under Schedule V. The condition in Jharkhand is even worse with no separate Tribal Welfare Ministry despite the mandate under Article 164 of the constitution. Chief Minister Raghubar Das, a non-tribal, being the Chairperson of TAC has further complicated the issue. By all these steps, the state government is taking away the tribal autonomy over their administration as pictured under constitution. Pathalgadi, as a movement against the same, is trying to remind the government of its constitutional obligations. The movement reflects the distrust and anger of tribal community towards the policies and actions of government.
The police force is the primary face of justice delivery mechanism in India and the first point of contact – regarding any legal dispute – for citizens. They are responsible for maintaining law & order as well and conducting investigations in criminal cases. However, the police are often blamed for using repression and violence, instead of following prescribed legal procedures. They also attract sympathy for working long hours during natural calamities and difficult situations, lack of facilities, and being overburdened with responsibilities despite lower salaries.
In this context, a study by Lokniti- Centre for the Study Developing Societies (CSDS) and Common Cause on ‘Status of Policing in India, 2018’ highlights the perceptions of people about the police and measures their performance across states as per different communities, caste, class and genders.
Jharkhand citizens are most likely to have heard about police excesses
In Jharkhand, people are most aware about cases involving police violence and excesses. While in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand, none of the respondents were aware about quite a few cases of police violence.
Further, in Jharkhand, people were majorly dissatisfied with the police’s investigation of crime. However, after having contacted the police, most people were somewhat satisfied. This implies that the perception of the police by the people is of being violent and ineffective. At the same time, after having contacted them, they are much more satisfied
(Maximum satisfaction with police help was found to be in Jharkhand while the lowest satisfaction was in Delhi)
Since the image of police force hold strong stereotypes and prejudices which are consistent with the larger society, it becomes difficult to keep an unbiased and neutral perspective in policing. For a healthy police-community relation, the police, however, must be responsive to the needs of the community and represent them adequately. Compliance with law comes not from deterrence mechanisms, but from trust and accountability within the justice system i.e. if the police system is seen as fair and law abiding then, this trust on the system can deter further crimes.
As per the Rule of Law Index by the World Justice Project, India has been ranked at the 62nd position out of 113 countries. It stands at the 66th position in terms of criminal justice.Though in civil justice, the rank falls to 97. India stands at 98 out of 113 countries in terms of order and security. This measures the extent to which ordinary people can resolve their grievances peacefully and effectively through the civil justice system i.e. the police and alternate dispute resolution mechanisms. The index also measures the accessibility, level of corruption, affordability, etc. of the system.
How representative are the police?
The percentage of women in the police force has been reserved at 33% and the SC, ST and OBC quota is decided as per the specific populations in a state. As per the Policing in India report, “only nine states have been able to meet the reservation quota for OBCs”, out of which Jharkhand is one. “None of the states have been able to achieve the 33% benchmark for recruitment of women in police force”.
In Jharkhand, it stands at 5.15% as per a CHRI Report published in 2015. Specifically, the Jharkhand state police manual says that women police “are not to be substituted for male police but they should be employed on duties which they alone could perform more effectively and with greater advantage than male police”. This implies that they should only perform specific tasks such as escorting women prisoners, doing desk jobs, or helping the male police as substitutes. Moreover, less than 1% of policewomen in India occupy senior ranks and almost 90% of them serve as constables.
The Muslim population in Jharkhand is 14.53% (Census 2011) and as per data received through the Right To Information Act in 2012, the representation of Muslims in the police force was barely 6.4%. A further disturbing fact is that the data was previously disseminated through the National Crime Records Bureau’s ‘Crime in India’ report, but it has been discontinued after 2013 and hence the latest data is not available.
Despite reservations, if the police force in itself is not open to marginalised sections and women enabling them to hold important positions in the force, it is highly unlikely that those sections would be able to access that space comfortably and trust the police. In order to do their work in an unbiased and neutral manner, adequate representation of different communities within the police force is critical.
Jharkhand has reduced its Maternal Mortality Ratio (MMR) from 208 in 2011-13 to 165 in 2014-16, according to the Sample Registration System (SRS) bulletin released last week. The SRS calculates combined data for Bihar/Jharkhand hence the figure of 165 is for both states.
“Campaigns such as the Pradhan Mantri Surakshit Matritva Abhiyan have been introduced with great impact, allowing women access to antenatal check-ups, obstetric gynecologists and to track high-risk pregnancies, exactly what is needed to make further gains and achieve SDG targets,” said Poonam Khetarpal Singh, Regional Director for South-East Asia.
More than 90% expectant mothers in rural areas are unaware of health and nutrition issues, according to the Jharkhand Economic Survey 2015-16. “It indicates that anganbadis (village playschools that also sensitise lactating and pregnant mothers on maternal and child health) from where rural mothers source their information are not functioning properly,” Balram, Jharkhand’s adviser to the Supreme Court-appointed commissioners for right to food, told the Hindustan Times.
The National Family Health Survey 2015-16 also shows some worrying statistics which influence the maternal health of women. For instance, only 8% of pregnant women in Jharkhand had full antenatal care before delivering a child and 62.6% of pregnant women aged between 15-49 years were anaemic.
While institutional deliveries is considered an indicator of safe deliveries, multiple reports highlight that the condition of public health institutions and hospitals leaves much to be desired. The condition of hospitals in Jharkhand is quite saddening as pregnant women are subjected to abuse and ridicule, in addition to the pathetic quality of services offered. Video Volunteers, a media activist organization has extensively covered the challenges faced by mothers in Jharkhand. You may see the video here.