DROUPADI MURMU INDIA’S FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT FROM A TRIBAL COMMUNITY
President Droupadi Murmu’s passage, overcoming personal losses and communal barriers to grace the position of the Governor of Jharkhand and now the 15th President of India is truly one of determination, grit and perseverance. Born in the Santal tribal community, in Rairangpur, Odisha, President Murmu is the first person from India’s indigenous tribal communities to be elected to the highest office in the country and only the second woman after Pratibha Patel. From humble beginnings, she was the first girl from her village to join college and an arts graduate who started out as a teacher. Her political career began with her election as the councillor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat in 1997.
She later held various portfolios in the cabinet of the Government of Odisha. President Murmu was a strong voice for the rights of tribal communities. In 2016, while she was the Governor of Jharkhand, the then government passed amendments to two centuries-old land laws, that would ensure easy transfer of land for industrial use. This led to massive upheaval among the tribal communities. Murmu’s intervention led to the withdrawal of the bills. Another major highlight in her political stint is the Freedom of Religion Bill, 2017, passed in the Jharkhand assembly, this sought to protect people and communities, especially tribal and marginalized, from coercive and forced religious conversions.