ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Through the Looking Glass

The Domicile Debate of Jharkhand

This paper is based on my doctoral work submitted to Jawaharlal Nehru University. I am indebted to Atiya Habeeb Kidwai The local domicile concept is fallacious in India because every citizen has the right to move freely, reside and settle in any part of the country. But domicile status can be used to grant a privilege only if there is some justifiable context like discrimination. This article deals with the domicile dispute existing in Jharkhand state, where the government is yet to complete the task.

Apparently, it is a pattern emerging in states not constituted on a linguistic basis. But domicile policy is not exclusive to such states. Most other states have designed their domicile policies to exclude deemed outsiders from certain educational and job opportunities. Internationally, each country has chosen its own domicile criteria1 for the purpose of taxation. To avoid double taxation countries enter into treaties. Mauritius has a Double Taxation Treaty with India. It has so designed its domicile policy that foreign institutional investors doing business exclusively in India may evade tax by becoming domicile in Mauritius. It is not unusual therefore that Jharkhand government chose a domicile policy for itself and that the policy favoured some and hurt some others. At the most it calls for a discussion of pros and cons, suggestions and alternatives. But in the case of Jharkhand the reactions were furious.

About Jharkhand’s domicile policy Anant Kumar wrote (2014) that the leaders of Jharkhand created “a fresh controversy leading to a divide between the tribals and non-tribals”, “…they demanded that the state should be ruled by its own people (tribals)”, “…The time has come to …expose them”, “…If these separatist (sic!) forces are not countered, it will lead to social divide and ethnic violence”, etc. The facts are very different.2 The locals never say Jharkhand is a state for scheduled tribes alone. They even invented a term moolvasi, comparable to mulki of Telangana. A committee that the chief minister of Jharkhand has formed to examine the criteria for “domicile” consists of three non-tribals and two tribals.3 Using Stuart Corbridge’s (1988) term Kumar’s piece is an example of “perversity model” narratives on Jharkhand movement. This kind of narratives abounds in media, administration and academics, on all topics not just on domicile issue. This article shows what is wrong in it and what should be the right kind of appreciation.

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