Carved out of the southern part of Bihar on 15 November 2000, the state of Jharkhand, popularly known as Vananchal (meaning land of woods), is located in the eastern part of India. With an area of 79,714 sq km, the state shares its border with Bihar in the north, Uttar Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in the west, Odisha in the south, and West Bengal in the east. Owing to its abundant mineral resources, the state also hosts some of the country’s major industrial units such as Bokaro steel plant, which is the largest steel plant in Asia; India’s first iron and steel factory in Jamshedpur and many others. The industrial city of Ranchi is its capital while Jamshedpur is the largest and the biggest industrial city in the state. The rivers of Jharkhand play an important role in the socio-economic aspects of the society. While river Ganges is one of the most important rivers flowing through Jharkhand, irrigation networks also come from Damodar, Barakar, Koel and Suvarnarekha rivers. Being a tribe dominated state, nature has been given utmost prominence in every sphere of life and culture in Jharkhand.
Culture of Jharkhand
Jharkhand, which is India’s 28th state, is endowed with a rich cultural heritage reflected in various facets such as its music, craft, fairs, festivals, archaeology, languages and food. Archaeology is an important part of Jharkhand. The state has several important sites such as the Asura sites of Kathar Toli and Hansa in Ranchi. Known for its unique folk tradition, the state has mostly been inhabited by Proto Austroloid and mixed Dravidian communities from time immemorial.
Economy and Infrastructure
Jharkhand is one the most industrialized regions in India. A mineral rich state, it accounts for 35.5 percent of the country's known coal reserves, 90 percent of its cooking coal deposits, 40 percent of its copper, 22 percent of its iron ore, 90 percent of its mica and huge deposits of bauxite, quartz and ceramics1. Due to its huge reserves of forests and natural resources, Jharkhand accounted for more than 70 percent of Bihar’s domestic product before the state was bifurcated. Despite this, it is still one of the most backward states in India with its per capita Net State Domestic Product (INR 22,780) well below the national average (INR 33,731) and Net Domestic Product growth rate of 6.35 percent which is below the national average2. Despite these challenges, Jharkhand’s progress on building infrastructure is commendable. The state is characterized by a good network of roads, railways, airways, telecommunication, power and water systems. It is also well connected by roads with the length of its national highway at 1,600 km and that of the state highway at 2,711 km.
With a population of 33 million, Jharkhand contributes about 2.72 percent to the total population of India3, with three-fourths of the state’s population living in rural areas (about 75.95 percent), including 95 percent of Scheduled Tribes (STs) and 91 percent of Scheduled Castes (SCs). Over the past decade, the state has witnessed a 22.3 percent growth in population. The population of tribals has, however, decreased over time. This can be attributed to a number of factors such as rising industrialization, urbanization, low birth rate and high death rate among tribals, immigration of non-tribal communities in the region and emigration of tribal people to other places.
Historically a disadvantaged community, 28 percent of the state’s population comprises tribals. Development indicators of the state are also adversely impacted. For example, Jharkhand is among the bottom five states on the Human Development Index. Ranked 19 out of 23 states, the state has a dismal human development value of 0.3764. Jharkhand’s literacy rate of 67.6 percent is much below the national average of 74.04 percent. Female literacy at 56.21 percent in contrast to the male literacy rate of 78.45 percent is also amongst the lowest in the country5. According to the India State Hunger Index (ISHI) 2009, Jharkhand falls into the ‘alarming’ category, that is, a state with high levels of hunger. With an ISHI score of 28.67, it is ranked just above Madhya Pradesh, which, according to the report, has an ‘extremely alarming’ hunger problem. The India State Hunger Index scores are closely aligned with poverty. At 45.3 percent, the poverty ratio of the state is much above the national average of 37.2 percent. However, if factors beyond income are considered, i.e. the Multidimensional Poverty Index, this ratio goes up further to about 74.8 percent6. The urgent need for the state to address health challenges is evident in its performance on key health indicators. For example, nearly 43 percent of the women in Jharkhand have a Body Mass Index below normal; 56.5 percent of children are underweight and the under-five mortality rate is as high as 93 percent7. These high values of health indicators point to the urgent need for the state to strengthen its public health system. Further, access to basic amenities such as safe drinking water, access to toilet, sanitation facilities remains limited. Only two-thirds of the population has access to improved sources of drinking water, and only one out of four households in the state has access to toilet facilities. Although the sex ratio of Jharkhand at 947 females per 1,000 men, as per the 2011 census, is above the national average, it still ranks 17th out of the 35 states and union territories of India. With regard to the child sex ratio, Jharkhand (943) is again better than the all-India average (914), but still marginally lower than the overall sex ratio of the state8.
According to the India State of Forest Report 2011, the forest cover in the state, based on interpretation of satellite data of November 2008-January 2009 is 22,977 sq km, which is 28.82 percent of the state’s geographical area. In terms of forest canopy density classes, the state has 2,590 sq km area under very dense forest, 9,917 sq km area under moderately dense forest and 10,470 sq km area under open forest. Jharkhand has one National Park and 11 wildlife sanctuaries and a rich variety of flora and fauna such as tigers, elephants, bisons, sambhars, wild boar, etc.
Agriculture is the mainstay for nearly 80 percent of the population in Jharkhand. It is characterized by dependence on nature, low investment, low productivity, mono-cropping with paddy as the dominant crop, small and marginal holdings and inadequate irrigation facilities. In fact, Jharkhand has a very low area under irrigation, which is only 10 percent, and more than half of its area, according to the State of Indian Agriculture 2011-2012 report, is degraded due to soil erosion.
1 India Brand Equity Foundation Report, ‘Indian States- Economy and Business- Jharkhand’
2 RBI Handbook of Statistics on Indian Economy and Economic Survey of India 2010-11
3 Census of India 2011, Provisional Tables, Registrar General of India
4 Inequality Adjusted Human Development Index for India’s States 2011, UNDP
5 Census of India 2011, Provisional Tables, Registrar General of India
6 MPI data and updates for 2011, OPHI
7 India Human Development Report 2011, IAMR and Planning Commission
8 Census of India 2011, Provisional Tables, Registrar General of India
Area: 79,714 sq km
Population: 33 million
HDI value: 0.376