My entire life, I have been working in the social service sector. Working for the people in Jharkhand has always brought me into direct clash with the government, the mafia and big corporates.
There is a need to change the system, and to change the system, you have to enter it. The time has to come for people like us, who work in the field with and for the people, to not only keep working there, but to enter the Lok Sabha and shape the laws that are today being used to infringe upon the rights of the tribals.
Development is the buzzword today. However, there is a lot of corruption in these so-called development projects, from the top to the bottom. If it takes Rs 3-4 lakh to construct a well, only Rs 1.5 lakh reaches the project. The rest of the money goes to the local party worker, the DC, the MLA, as well as the minister concerned. We are losing more than 50 percent of the money to corruption, and tribal rights are being violated.
For the government, development basically means exploiting the diverse natural resources of the state without taking the farmers and tribals into confidence. When the locals protest, they are labelled Maoists and arrested. But why doesn’t development mean setting up an AIIMS or IIT in Jharkhand rather than setting up one-teacher schools? Why aren’t there any agriculture centres? The need is to focus on sustainable development that creates local benefits.
I would like to create a system of development that takes advantage of the 40 percent reserved forestland. Why not look at small-scale factories that use raw materials sourced from the jungle? By setting up such factories, we can wean the youth away from arms and help bring peace, but no one wants to talk about this sort of development because they make crores from deals with big industry.
As told to Avalok Langer