From ladoos in the Odisha Legislative Assembly to traditional dances on the streets of Odisha, Droupadi Murmu’s win as the 15th President of India is being celebrated the way it deserves. The second female president of the country, Droupadi Murmu is the first tribal woman to be elected to the position.
In a country where ‘Adivasi’ is used as a deprecatory term, and there is little to no awareness of tribal communities, a tribal woman holding the highest office is an unparalleled milestone.
The results of the Presidential election were announced on Thursday, and Murmu was a clear winner after the third round of voting. The fate that the sealed ballots held after the last round was expected by all, and estimated by none. She had a glaring 64.03% votes in her account, which makes it clear that there was cross-party voting. If you’re joining this new wave of women taking over the country, here are eight things you need to know about the new President-elect.
Everything you need to know about President Droupadi Murmu
1. National Democratic Alliance (NDA) gave India its youngest ever President at 64. Murmu joined the BJP in 1997 with her first stint as the Councillor in the Rairangpur Notified Area Council, and is the only President born after Independence.
2. This former Jharkhand Governor is the only female governor and the only governor in the history of a state who completed a full tenure in the politically volatile state. Not only that, she also served for an extra year before exiting office.
3. Born into a Santhal family on June 20, 1958, Murmu was brought up with limited means in the Uparbeda village in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. After completing her education, she went on to become a teacher in the same state. She was an assistant professor at the Shri Aurobindo Integral Education and Research Institute, Rairangpur, followed by Junior Assistant at the irrigation department of the Government of Odisha.
4. Shortly after graduation, she joined the State government as a clerk in Bhubaneswar. Intrigued by politics, she left teaching and entered electoral politics at the local body level which paved the way for her election as an MLA. She remained a minister in the Biju Janata Dal-BJP coalition government from 2000 to 2004, during which she was the Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation (a rare occurrence of such young ministers), followed by Minister of Fisheries and Animal Resources Development.
5. Droupadi Murmu contested as an MLA from Rairangpur Assembly Constituency from 2004 to 2009. She contested the assembly elections in 2014 but lost to a strong contender. She then held several positions under the BJP, and went on to become Jharkhand’s governor in 2015.
6. During her tenure as Governor, she played a monumental role in stopping the amendments to the Chota Nagpur Tenancy Act (and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949) which pertains to the land rights of the tribal population. The act restricts the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals, and the amendments would interfere with the same.
7. A member of the Santhal tribe, Murmu has been an active advocate of the rights and protection of tribal communities in India. She seeks pride in being a seasoned orator in both Santhali and Odia languages.
8. Murmu has been through excruciating degrees of personal loss. She lost her first daughter in the early years of her marriage. Between 2009 and 2014, she lost her two sons, followed by her husband and then her mother. She has one daughter now– Itishri Murmu.
Smt. Droupadi Murmu – the President of India is a woman of steel and her win is symbolic of the change this country is moving forward to. She might not have put the tribal identity on the map, but she has made them apparent as more than just a constitutional presence.
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