The Bold Voice of J&K

Struggleful journey of Draupadi Murmu


Draupadi Murmu, a tribal leader from Odisha has now become first tribal President and second female President of India. As a tribal woman from remote Mayurbhanj district, she had never thought about becoming the President of India. Murmu comes from a discreet tribal community of Santhals. Santhals, also known as Manjhis, are an ethnic group largely concentrated in the states of Jharkhand, Odisha, Bihar and West Bengal. According to Britannica, there are over 5 million Santhals in India alone. She is the first tribal woman from East to hold such a top position. Modi’s Government choosing a leader from an Odisha Adivasi community seems to be its best bet currently. BJP’s choice of Draupadi Murmu for president is an important signaling for India’s historically prideful and underserved tribal communities. Murmu has a clean track record and as an Adivasi can challenge, at least in perception, the upper caste dominance in Odisha’s politics and consolidate a large section of the Adivasi population in western Odisha. During BJP-BJD coalition Government that came to power in 2000, she held the Commerce and Transport, and, subsequently, the Fisheries and Animal Husbandry portfolios.S he managed to win in 2009 even as the BJP paled against the challenge put up by the by-then estranged BJD. Murmu entered State politics in 1997 and was conferred with Nilkantha Award in 2007. BJP President J P Nadda, has rightly said that “Millions of people, especially those who have experienced poverty and faced hardships, derive great strength from the life of Draupadi Murmu Her understanding of policy matters and compassionate nature will greatly benefit our country”. When she assumed office as the governor of Jharkhand on May 18, 2015, not only was she the first woman to have done so but also the first tribal leader and woman from Odisha to be a governor in any Indian state. When she was born in 1958, in the district of Mayurbhanj in Odisha, there was nothing to foretell that she was headed to the Rashtrapati Bhavan. Living in one of the state’s most underdeveloped regions, her family struggled with poverty. Despite her family’s difficult situation, she went on to graduate from the Ramadevi Women’s College in Bhubaneswar. Her father, who comes from a tribal family, made her stand on her feet by educating her. She struggled to reach the first job of a clerk in the Irrigation Department from a village in Orissa. She took her baby steps struggling with poverty in one of the most remote and underdeveloped districts of the country. Draupadi Murmu is a devotee of Lord Shiva. She is the only woman to have travelled from the Santhal tribal section to the post of President. She is recognized as a woman living with simplicity and taking strong decisions. But her life can inspire many of us who start thinking small difficulties as end of life. The 64-year-old Murmu was twice elected as a BJP legislator from Odisha and was a minister in the Naveen Patnaik cabinet when the saffron party supported the Biju Janata Dal (BJD). Born in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, Murmu belongs to a Santhal family – a tribal ethnic group. She began her career as an assistant teacher at the Shri Aurobindo integral Education Centre in Rairangpur. Thereafter, she had working with the Odisha government as part of the irrigation and power department. In 2015, she was sworn in as the first woman Governor of Jharkhand. She was also the first woman and tribal leader from Odisha to be appointed as Governor of an Indian state. She has come a long way in making her way till here, on her own, breaking all social stigmas. When she had gone to study in Bhubaneshwar before the nineties, there were no roads, no Google Maps to help people. She has always maintained a very stoic appearance in her public and personal life. She figured everything out on her own. She has devoted her life to serving society and empowering the poor, downtrodden as well as the marginalised. Her life has been marked with personal tragedies as she lost her husband and two sons. Over the next decade or so she held several leading roles within the BJP, serving as the state president of the ST Morcha and as the BJP district president of Mayurbhan. She has diverse administrative experience having handled ministries such as transport, commerce, fisheries and animal husbandry in the Odisha government. She is a source of inspiration for us. As Murmu’s contributions to our nation are immense and she possesses a lot of expertise in different areas which will be certainly of great benefit to our country.

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