On July 21, Droupadi Murmu becomes the 15th President of India. She was born on June 20, 1958, in Uparbeda village of Mayurbhanj district in Odisha in a Santhal tribal family to Biranchi Narayan Tudu. Both her father and grandfather were village heads under the Panchayati Raj Systems. Smt. Murmu has come a long way to reach where she is today. The BJP-led NDA’s Presidential candidate has overcome several personal tragedies in her life. In just six years between 2009-2015, she lost her husband, two sons, mother and brother. She has diverse administrative experience having handled Ministries such as transport, commerce, fisheries and animal husbandry in the Odisha Government. In the BJP, Smt. Murmu was
Vice-President and later President of the Scheduled Tribe Morcha in Odisha.
She was elected the district President of Mayurbhanj (West) unit of the BJP in 2010 and re-elected in 2013. She was also named a member of the BJP National Executive (ST Morcha) the same year. She held the post of district president till April 2015 when she was appointed as the Governor of Jharkhand. Santhal community has always contributed for the cause of the nation.
If we look back in the pages of history, their contribution in the freedom struggle cannot be ignored. Whether it was movement in 1855-56, when two Santhal brothers Sidhu and Kanhu Murmu organised 10,000 Santhals and proclaimed a rebellion against the British. The tribals took an oath to drive away the British from their homeland. The Murmu sisters Phulo and Jhano along with the Murmu brothers played an active part in the rebellion. The Santhals were fierce fighters but they were honourable.
According to British observers of that time, the Santhals used poisoned arrows for hunting but did not use poisoned arrows against their enemies in war. This shows their humane face and sensitivity even towards their opponents. It is ironic that the British came to ‘civilise’ the natives. The rebellion was crushed ruthlessly. More than 15,000 Santhals were killed while tens of villages were destroyed. Sido was betrayed and captured and killed in August 1855, while Kanhu was arrested by accident at the tail-end of the revolt. And the Rajmahal Hills were drenched with the blood of the fighting Santhal peasantry. Martial law was declared on November 10th 1855 and it lasted till January 3rd 1856. The British passed the Santhal Parganas Tenancy Act in 1876 which offered some protection for the tribals against exploitation. The Santhal rebellion was overshadowed by the revolt of 1857 but it remains a watershed in the evolution of the modern Santhali identity.
Even though this great insurrection lasted only for six months, it had a huge impact upon the Schedule Tribe community and served as an inspiration for other Schedule Tribe revolts. Not only this but, Santhal revolt also inspired other movements such as Munda rebellion, Kol rebellion, Thana Bhagat movement and others which were mainly directed against British imperialism.
Thus, by electing Droupadi Murmu as the next President of India, we Indians have not only paid huge tribute to the Santhals and other Schedule Tribe communities who sacrificed their lives for the sake of motherland but also fulfilled the promises made by the greats like BR Ambedkar and Deendayal Upadhyay who always believed in the policy of social justice, Ram Rajya and Antyodaya.