The swearing-in of Draupadi Murmu as India’s youngest and first tribal president, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi put it, is a ‘historic moment for India, especially for the poor, underprivileged and weaker sections’. She is the second woman to hold the office of President.
Murmu’s life journey has been full of struggles and unbelievable. Born in Uparbeda, a tribal settlement in Odisha’s tribal-dominated Mayurbhanj district, Draupadi’s original Santhali name was ‘Puti’, but her school teacher did not like the name and changed it to ‘Draupadi’ in school records. She worked hard in her studies and was talented. Despite the lack of electricity in the village, she topped the class on the strength of her hard work and also became a monitor. His school used to study only till 8th standard, so the way forward was not being understood.
Draupadi did not lose courage. She met a local MLA, showed him her mark sheet and the MLA got her admitted to a government school in Bhubaneswar. After finishing high school, she took admission in Ramadevi Women’s College, Bhubaneswar and started living in the college hostel. His father could send him only ten rupees every month for his expenses. After completing her graduation, she got a job as an assistant clerk in the state government, and married a bank clerk. Soon after marriage, she had to leave her government job to take care of her children. Later she started working as a teacher in Aurobindo School in her home town Rairangpur.
Many tragedies knocked in the life of Draupadi Murmu. She lost her husband and both sons. He was left with only his daughter. To regain her spiritual and mental balance, Draupadi joined the Brahma Kumaris, and then became a councilor in Rairangpur doing social work. Later she became an MLA, became a minister in Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s cabinet in the same year, and later became the Governor of Jharkhand. Murmu’s struggle is a testimony to how a tribal girl overcomes the challenges of life to become the first citizen of the country.
Draupadi Murmu delivered a speech in Hindi from the dais in the Central Hall of Parliament on Monday after taking the oath of office. In his speech, he said, ‘It is also a coincidence that when the country was celebrating the 50th year of its independence, then my political career started. And today in the 75th year of independence, I have got this new responsibility.
Draupadi Murmu, wearing a hand-woven Santhali sari that her sister-in-law had brought with her to Delhi, addressed a grand gathering of Union Ministers, MPs, Chief Ministers and Governors and said: ‘It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that for centuries The deprived, those who are away from the benefits of development, those poor, downtrodden, backward and tribals are seeing their reflection in me. This election of mine includes the blessings of the poor of the country, a glimpse of the dreams and potential of crores of women and daughters of the country.
Murmu said, “It is the power of our democracy that in that a daughter born in a poor household, a daughter born in a remote tribal area, can reach the highest constitutional post of India. Reaching the post of President is not my personal achievement, it is the achievement of every poor in India. My election is proof that the poor in India can dream and make them come true.
The 15th President said, ‘We have to work at a fast pace in this Amritkal to fulfill the expectations that our freedom fighters had made from us citizens of independent India. In these 25 years, the path to the accomplishment of Amritkal will proceed on two tracks – everyone’s effort and everyone’s duty. A new development journey for the bright future of India, we have to do it with everyone’s efforts, while walking on the path of duty.
On environmental conservation, Murmu said, “I have been born in that tribal tradition which has carried on life in harmony with nature for thousands of years. I have realized the importance of forests and water bodies in my life. We take necessary resources from nature and serve nature with equal reverence. This sensitivity has become a global imperative today.
Draupadi Murmu is the first President born after India’s independence in 1947. Seeing him speak fluently in Hindi, it is known that he is also outspoken and has a lot of self-confidence. During the presidential election campaign, some opposition leaders had remarked that Murmu could not speak, but her speech in Hindi debunks such claims. He began his speech with ‘johar’, a traditional Santhali greeting similar to ‘namaskar’.
He concluded his speech by reciting a line from the revered Odia saint and poet Bhima Bhoi: ‘Mo jiban pache narke padi thau, jagato uddha haiu’, which literally means, ‘Even though my life may be in hell, I am for the welfare of the world. I will work for.’ Draupadi Murmu in her speech spoke of great fighters of India’s freedom struggle like Gandhi, Netaji, Nehru, Sardar Patel, Ambedkar, Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad on one side and Rani Lakshmibai, Rani Velu Nachiyar, Rani Gaidinliu and Rani on the other. Remembering women personalities like Chennamma.
The election of Draupadi Murmu as the President of India has sent a clear message to the poor, downtrodden and tribals that they too can fulfill their dreams in our vibrant republic. This is a sign of the strength of India’s democracy and also a proud moment for every Indian. (Rajat Sharma)
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