By Rishin Mukherjee:
Recently, to the surprise of many, Bihar was adjudged the least corrupt state in the country. This is a complete turn-around from the Bihar that most people knew, and this has all been made possible due to the able and strict governance under Chief Minister, Mr. Nitish Kumar. In contrasting conditions lies the state of Jharkhand. This is a state that was carved out of Bihar on the pretext of need for better governance and faster development for the tribal population that is in high majority in most areas of the state. However, ever since its birth, this state, which has some of the highest mineral reserves in the entire country, has seen extremely slow growth both in the industrial as well as agricultural field. One might argue that there are several factors such as Naxalism and the frequent change in power that hinder the state’s progress; however, none of them is of bigger consequence than the corruption that seeps through every public office in the state.
It would seem highly comical but Driving Licenses are no longer issued in the city of Bokaro, one of the four major steel cities of SAIL. For the past several months, the DMV has not issued a single license in the city, as if implying that suddenly the citizens are no longer capable of driving on the road. Complaints have been heard claiming that proper documents have been submitted many times over without any response from the issuing officer, whose favourite excuse seems to be his apparent wish to control the amount of vehicles in the city. The roads of the state are in shambles, and although this is a problem common to most parts of India, over here there is a whole new dimension given to it. Coal is found across the state in many areas and in the neighbouring places of Raniganj and Assansol etc. This coal has to be transported to various industries; although a major part of this is done by railway, yet there are a number of heavy vehicles that are used in this transport. The terrible conditions and the large number of heavy vehicles create enormous traffic congestions with high levels of vehicular pollution. Every year these roads undergo repair-work and corruption is so high and far reaching that not once is the repair-work done properly, and year after year funds have to be allocated. The most striking and perhaps famous example of corruption in the state was the recently held 34th National Games; the event was postponed for almost 2 years. When, after this unprecedented delay was over and the Games were held, corruption charges flew in from all corners, marring the event completely.
Corruption in the state is matched only by an amazing lack of interest that people show towards their work. The creation of Jharkhand was brought about by a necessity for new governance, one that is more empathic towards the needs of the tribal population. The change in the people occupying the various government and administrative posts and services was not reflected in the kind of governance, complaints still fall on deaf ears in the state, and corruption runs clearly from the highest rungs to the lowest.
Corruption is not a condition that is unique to this state, but such is the magnitude of it that there is practically no scope for development. MoUs are signed with many major industries, however the follow-up is never complete and there is thus no further investment in the state. The eradication of corruption is possible only in theory and it would be fruitless to assume that total removal is a possibility. However, it is not too much to ask for development to go hand in hand with ‘do-able’ corruption, however slow the progress rate is– if that remains the only path of development of the state. After all, it would be highly suspicious if an entire city learnt to drive overnight.