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Droupadi Murmu: The First Tribal Woman Prez of India

  • 02 Aug 2022

On July 25, 2022, 64 years old Droupadi Murmu assumed office as India’s first tribal President as well as the second female president after Pratibha Patil. She belongs to the indigenous schedule tribe, and thus the nation is looking forward to a better upliftment of the backward tribes with her appointment as the President, succeeding Ram Nath Kovind. The former governor of Jharkhand, the cabinet member of the government of Odisha, will now serve in the highest position in India for the next five years.

Early Life

'Puti Tudu' was the original name of the new President of India, who was later named Droupadi by a teacher in her school. Born, in a Santhali family, on June 20 1958, the early life of Droupadi Murmu was spent mostly in Rairangpur, Odisha. After her name got changed several times initially, Droupadi Murmu was the final and official name she chose to adopt. She completed her graduation in Arts from Rama Devi Women’s College, and her grandparents were chiefs of the village council.

She got married to Shyam Charan Murmu, a bank employee, in 1980. Unfortunately, her married life was short-lived. Her husband and her two sons passed away one by one between 2009 and 2015. She also lost her brother in the course of these seven years.

Her early career started as a junior assistant in the department of irrigation under the Government of Odisha. She was a teacher of Hindi, Odia, maths, geography etc in a school in Rairangpur named- Sri Aurobindo Integral Educational centre.

Political Career

Her political career started to flourish when she joined Bhartiya Janata Party and was elected as Councilor of Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997. She was also selected as MLA from the Rairangpur Assembly constituency in the 2000 Odisha Vidhan Sabha election.

She was the Minister of Commerce and Transportation of Odisha from 2000 to 2002, during the rule of the coalition government of BJD and BJP in Odisha. She had also been a minister of Fisheries and Animal Resources Development from 2002 to 2004.

She contested the Lok Sabha election from the Mayurbhanj constituency in 2009 but could not win the majority.

Murmu with PM (2016) when she was Governor of Jharkhand

Role in Jharkhand

On May 18, 2015, she was selected as the Governor of Jharkhand. She was the first woman governor of Jharkhand. Murmu served in her office as governor for a tenure of six years and also had the power of the union government.

Though she represented the tribal population, it is said that she did not use her powers adequately to develop local self-government in the tribal villages. She did not use her powers well to implement the Pesa act in the region of her governance.

A few bills have been mentioned below which had been implemented in Jharkhand when Murmu was the governor of the state.

Murmu with former president Ram Nath Kovind

Religion bill

In 2017, Droupadi Murmu passed the religion bill. This bill states that if a person is forced into the conversion of a particular religion, the person forcing it will be punished severely by the law. There can be long-term imprisonments accompanied by fines. If the person who is forced into the conversion of religion belongs to a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe, then the punishment increases for the people involved in the forceful conversion. The increase in punishment also results if the person who is forced to change religion is a person belonging to a minority class or is a woman. Generally, the term for imprisonment is three years, but it can also increase to five years in certain cases.

Land Bill

This bill was passed in 2013 by Droupadi Murmu. It stated that the government could not use the lands meant for the tribal population. Even if it does so, a compensation amount must be given by the government for the acquisition of the land within a period of six months.

Selection as the President of India

BJP selected Droupadi Murmu as a candidate for the President’s election from the National Democratic Alliance party. Yashwant Sinha was her opposition in the election. She sought support for herself by campaigning across the states of India. Finally, she defeated Yashwant Sinha with a huge number of votes and became the 15th President of India.

A hopeful future

With the appointment of Droupadi Murmu as our new President, we can now be hopeful for better upliftment of the tribal community of India. Since she has the reputation of being a tough constitutional figure, hence it will be interesting to see how she wields her pen and her powers this time around.

 Poonam Sharma 

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