Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren has brought down on provincialism, which has become a go-to policy for most parties in power in India today.


What is the issue?

  • The Local Resident of Jharkhand Bill, which the state Cabinet passed recently, proposes to keep 1932 as the cut-off year for “proof of land records” to define a “local”, which would, in turn, determine access to state benefits.
  • This intent was clear from a parallel Bill approved by the Cabinet to increase reservations from the Supreme Court mandated 50 per cent to 67 per cent.
  • Once these Bills are passed, the government proposes to petition the Centre to include them in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, which contains a list of central and state laws that cannot be challenged in court (the abolition of the zamindari system being one example).


Why is it significant?

  • This marks a considerable hardening of the position from just six months ago, when the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) government had indicated that the 1932 cut-off would not be the sole criterion for determining domicile status.
  • The intent of the recent decisions is clearly to enhance benefits for tribals, who account for 26 per cent of the states population and whose welfare was at the heart of the state’s formation in 2000.


Why is it problematic?

  • There are several critical issues associated with these transparently populist moves. For one, although tribals have feted this initiative, the fact is that, in common with tribal populations elsewhere in India, many of them lack the requisite documentary evidence” of land ownership.
  • The government is reportedly proposing to include a provision that those who dont own land or a record of their familiesname in the 1932 khatiyan (or land document proof) can get these facts validated by the local gram sabhas. On what basis will the gram sabhas validate these facts? Since this process has been left ambiguous, it is easy to anticipate the explosion of corruption that will accompany this process.
  • The Other Backward Classes (OBCs), who account for a substantial 46 per cent of the state’s population, are likely to face similar problems. For another, by setting the cut-off at a year in the mists of pre-independent India, the state is excluding large swathes of the population from domiciliary rights, let alone benefits.
  • The issue is likely to create more roiling controversy, given the governments role as a major employer in a state where private investment has been subdued.



But from Maharashtra to Andhra Pradesh and Haryana, the effort to trend towards provincialism in jobs and reservations will inflict considerable damage on Indias labour market and weaken the delicate mechanisms of federalism that allow any Indian citizen to seek employment anywhere in the country.


SourceBusiness Standard


QUESTION – Rising tides of provincialism present a formidable danger to federalism that allows any Indian citizen to seek employment anywhere in the country. In light of this statement, discuss the recent trends in states where domicile rules are being changed to feed populist sentiments.