20 years after visiting the mineral capital of India, the state of Jharkhand for the last time, I met the current Chief Minister Shri Raghubar Das here in San Francisco. In his two years of tenure much changed in the State. He came to the Silicon Valley primarily to solidify business partnerships with major tech giants such as Oracle and HP. He also hosted private meetings with investors and patrons interested to invest and collaborate in the region with the help of TIE Silicon Valley. Later he visited New York. He is the 6th Chief Minister of Jharkhand after the state was created on November 15, 2000 carved out of the southern part of Bihar.
While I was waiting in the hotel lobby in downtown San Jose to meet him, memories from the beautiful region flashed in my mind. I was in Elementary school then. My father, as a geologist from Geological Survey of India was working extensively in Jharkhand. He was primarily mapping copper belts in Chotanagpur plateau. We would carry all our rations, along with his surveyor, cook and driver in the Government Mahindra jeep and drive down to the remote forests from Kolkata.
It was the year of 1991. The Jharkhand revolutions by the local tribal rebels were at it’s peak. We would be stopped at a number of checkpoints with acute suspicions. We would pass by however, looking for forest guesthouses in Ghatsila, Pathargura, Mosaboni..sometimes all the way to the dense greens of Kuchai. The pristine nature beckoned us with open arms. That year, we stayed in a tent. I could bury my legs till my knees in the fall leaves then. The leaves had so many colors – some golden, some brown, some deep green. They would settle on one another to form a deep leafy bed covering the whole of hill trough. When night settled, the rustle of the leaves would keep me awake. In the morning, the wet, musky smell would tickle my nostrils, my mind absorbing the earthen rot. I could tell who’s coming by the sound of the footsteps they made on the leaves. The tribal cook at his regular visits with tea, breakfast, cigarettes while his dog was in search of the remnants. Sharp at 8, my father’s surveyor would come and wait in front of our tent; all decked up in his field boots, hat and with the sandpaper colored bag on his back. My father would immediately pick up two of his treasured possessions: the hammer and the torch and off they’ll go to delve into the bottom of the earth. To look into the cracks an crevices, faults and mineral beds, walking endlessly through the virgin forests. There was no electricity there back then. The rural people traveled miles to attend the weekly market place, once a week. Children walked far to attend schools.
I woke up to a magnificent surprise looking at the chiseled presentation of modern Jharkhand. It is a state with endless opportunities. Be it in technology, energy or tourism, Jharkhand has limitless resources. It was wonderful to connect with Chief Minister Shri Raghubar Das and the Principal Secretary Shri Arun Singh – both warm and welcoming to the diaspora here in California. Other member who accompanied him were Chief Secretary Smt. Rajbala Verma, Principal Secretary to CM Shri Sanjay Kumar, IT Secretary Shri Sunil Barnwal and Managing Industry Secretary Sri Ravi Kuma and others. There was an open invitation to global Indians to attend the upcoming Jharkhand “Global Investor Summit” at Ranchi on 16th-17h February 2017 in partnership with CII. His chief of staff, and young, vibrant tech savvy personnel was up on his feet scheduling the meetings. It filled me with hope. The calling of the state has finally been answered. We have a government now in Jharkhand that is keen to bypass the corrupt bureaucracy and make a difference to the region. Make a difference to its deserving people.
People of Jharkhand are a community that has gone through a lot but survived another dawn of transience and transformation. While I waved goodbyes to the CM and his secretory, the Robert Frost poem went through my mind. They looked like men with a deep sense of purpose. Like the poet said, “The woods are lovely, dark and deep. But I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep. And miles to go before I sleep.”
Global Investors Meet:
“Momentum Jharkhand” is the punch line for investment promotion in Jharkhand which will also have a Global Investors Meet in Ranchi in Feb 2017. The Chief Minister and delegates aim to raise investments and awareness about the opportunities in Jharkhand as powerhouse of India’s Manufacturing Sector ( Make in India) and priority areas like Film Industry, Textile & Apparels, Tourism, Sericulture, Handloom and Handicraft, IT & ITeS, Electronic System Design & Manufacturing, BioTechnology, Automobile and Auto components, Renewable Energy, AgroFood Processing, Health, like Health, Higher Education.
The history of Jharkhand was as India’s industrial powerhouse because of vast natural resources of Iron ore, Copper ore, Coal, Mica and Bauxite. This created a virtuous cycle of attracting top companies like TATA Group ( TISCO , Tata Motors , HEC , SAIL Bokaro , MEKON ) which attracted diverse workforce from all corners of India.
Some of India’s top schools and higher education institutions such as Some of India’s most reputed Institutions like ( XLRI, IIM Ranchi , XISS , BIT Mesra , IIT Dhanbad , St. Xavier’s Ranchi , DAV Shyamali, DPS Bokaro , De Nobili Dhanbad etc.) are in global roles across the world. Jharkhand Alumni have excelled in all walks of life across the world. Investors, entrepreneurs across the world are looking for markets ( raw material, as well as skilled work force) and high growth consumer markets, which Jharkhand has plenty of.
The potential opportunities in Jharkhand are being transformed into thriving businesses in services sector and global diaspora is keen to return to motherland. Jharkhand has also given many Olympians in Archery, Hockey and other sports. Of course one of India’s biggest sports icon MS Dhoni is from Ranchi and he is the Brand Ambassador.