Jamshedpur/Seraikela/Ichagarh: Small groups of men sitting at roadside stalls and idling away their time, with rows of cranes and trucks giving them company — this has become a common sight for visitors in Adityapur, Jharkhand, which, with close to 1,600 small, medium and large factories, is one of India’s largest industrial belts.
The economic slowdown has hit business hard in this industrial belt adjoining Jamshedpur, where Tata Motors and Tata Steel plants are headquartered. About 80 per cent of the industries in the region are dependent on orders from the plants for their business.
“The slowdown has had a spiralling effect on hundreds of such factories. Many of them are working at 30 per cent of their capacity. Many others have been forced to shut shop, leading to job losses,” says Sunil Kumar Singh, who ran a small machine factory in Adityapur until about nine months ago.
“I did machine work for two industries that supplied ancillary components to the Tata plant. But they stopped getting fresh orders. I could not afford the four labourers who worked in my factory. The power bill also kept rising. I did not have a choice but to close my unit,” Singh told ThePrint.
Singh’s is not an isolated case.
The slowdown in the economy has had an impact across constituencies, making words like recession, job loss, unemployment part of the regular election discourse from Ranchi to Ichagarh, Tamar to Seraikela, Kharsawan to Jamshedpur. All these constituencies will vote in the second and third phases on 7 December and 12 December.
The election began on 30 November and will continue until 20 December, covering five phases. Results will be declared on 23 December.
People in Adityapur are peeved at the Raghubar Das-led BJP government for not doing anything to address their plight.
“The BJP keeps talking of Hindutva and nationalism. But they are not going to give us our daily bread. The state government has not only failed to create jobs but has not taken any measures to address the industrial slowdown too,” said Rajiv Ranjan Dubey, a crane operator from Jamshedpur.
According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, in 2018-19, Jharkhand had the highest percentage of stalled investment projects in the country — at 44 per cent.
“There is a recession and it has affected the industrial output. There is no demand. Of the 1,600 industries in Adityapur, close to 700 are working at 30 per cent capacity,” said Santosh Khaitan, vice-president, Adityapur Small Industries Association.
Dr A. Kanagaraj, associate professor at Jamshedpur’s Xavier School of Management, told ThePrint that there is a problem of demand in the market.
“People don’t have enough money in their hands. The worst-hit are small factories supplying components to automobile industries where there has been a major slump in demand,” he said.
Kanagaraj said industrial activity has gone down by at least 35 per cent due to the slowdown in the economy. “This has resulted in a spiralling effect everywhere, including the creation of new jobs.”
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‘No jobs, our children are migrating to other states’
Residents in many of the rural and urban pockets who will vote in the second and third phases rue the fact that the absence of jobs is forcing the younger generation to migrate to other cities.
“There are no jobs here. Our children are migrating to other states. We are living a hand-to-mouth existence. The Raghubar Das government has done nothing to address the situation,” says Narayan Singh, a resident of Chowka village in Ichagarh constituency.
In Ulihatu, a village in Tamar assembly constituency, where Jharkhand’s most famous freedom fighter Birsa Munda was born, there is hardly anybody — out of a population of approximately 1,000 — having a government job.
The BJP had bagged 37 of the 81 seats, the highest, in the 2014 assembly elections as against 19 of Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM).
The Congress had won seven seats, the All Jharkhand Students Union, a former BJP ally, had got five, while the Babulal Marandi-led Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) had won eight seats.
The remaining five seats were won by the smaller parties. Six of the JVM(P) MLAs had joined the BJP in February 2015.
The BJP’s vote share increased from 31.26 per cent in the 2014 assembly elections to 55.29 per cent in 2019 Lok Sabha elections. The party had won 12 of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 general elections while the JMM had won two.
(Edited by Debalina Dey)
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BJP is insensitive towards mutually linked 2 major economic issues of population control and employment generation, which is root cause of all problems. This arrogance of BJP is only due to its belief that there is no national level party to challenge it.
High unemployment seen
A growing mismatch between the anguished needs of the populace and the ruling formation’s ideology / world view.
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