India made history when the lawmakers, on Thursday, chose the country’s first president from the tribal communities. The 64-year-old teacher turned politician, Droupadi Murmu will be the second woman to hold the largely ceremonial role as head of the republic when she takes office on July 25 at the start of a five-year term.
Droupadi defeated the rival contender Yashwant Sinha, a former BJP finance minister and currently a harsh criticizer of Modi, winning almost twice as many votes.
Let’s throw light on 5 lesser-known facts about the newly-elected President of India:
Droupadi Murmu was born into a Santhal family in 1958 in the village of Uparbeda, one of the seven revenue villages in the Uparbeda panchayat in the Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. She attended the Ramadevi Women’s College in Bhubaneswar, now known as the Ramadevi Women’s University, and became the first girl in her village to attend college.
Before commencing her political career, Droupadi Murmu worked as a teacher at the Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre in Rairangpur in Mayurbhanj. She afterward took a job as a junior assistant in Odisha Government’s Irrigation and Power Department.
Triumphant Political Career
In 1997, after successfully winning an election to the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat, Droupadi Murmu operated as councilor. She was selected for two terms in the Odisha Assembly, viz. 2000 and 2004, and served as a Minister in CM Naveen Patnaik’s term from 2000 to 2004.
While in the state government, Murmu retained the portfolio of Commerce & Transport and later Fisheries & Animal Husbandry. As the State Transport Minister, she had set up transport offices in all 58 subdivisions of Odisha. She also served as the Vice President of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Scheduled Tribes Morcha.
In spite of having a thriving career in politics, Droupadi Murmu had to face some hindrances along the path, as she lost in the Lok Sabha election that she had contested from the Mayurbhanj constituency in 2009.
Apart from a setback in politics, Murmu encountered a turbulent phase in her personal life when she lost three of her most immediate family in a string of unfortunate events. Her eldest son Laxman Murmu passed away in 2009, followed by her younger son Sippun Murmu, who lost his life in 2013. The following her, Murmu also lost her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, in 2014
Governor of Jharkhand
In 2015, Droupadi Murmu was elected as the first woman Governor of the state of Jharkhand. In 2016, the Jharkhand government led by CM Raghubar Das passed amendments to two 100-year-old land laws, viz. the Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Act and the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act.
The above would have assured effortless transfer of land for industrial usage. Followed by massive objections by Adivasis, who felt that the action would restrict their privileges over land, Murmu returned the Bills in 2017 and questioned the government to ascribe how the amendments would help tribals.
This ultimately led Murmu to win admiration and respect by denying to grant her consent to contentious Bills enacted by the same political party to which she had herself belonged.
The Adivasi Commander
A Santhal chief and a dynamic personality for her people, especially women, Droupadi Murmu has often handled matters encountered by Adivasis. Addressing an international conference in November 2018, Murmu said that although the Centre and the Government of Jharkhand were working towards extending the advantages of banking services along with other plans to tribals, the situation of SCs and STs remain extremely poor. She also solicited the translation of writings on Adivasi culture and languages.