IntersectionalityIndigenous Rights Poster Series: Who Is Droupadi Murmu – India’s First Tribal President

Poster Series: Who Is Droupadi Murmu – India’s First Tribal President

India takes a step ahead in representing marginalized voices as Droupadi Murmu takes oath and becomes India's first tribal President.

Former Jharkhand Governor Droupadi Murmu recently took the oath as the 15th President of India. She is the first tribal woman to hold the country’s highest constitutional office, and also the youngest ever to become President.

Let’s take a look at her life and political career!

Who Is Droupadi Murmu?

Droupadi Murmu, 64, is the first Adivasi and second woman to become India’s First Citizen and the Supreme Commander of India’s Armed Forces.

Born into a Santhal family on June 20, 1958, Murmu was the first girl in her village, Uparbeda, to go to college for education. Uparbeda is one of the seven revenue villages under the panchayat in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district.

She graduated from Rama Devi Women’s College in Bhubaneswar with a Bachelor of Arts degree.

Early Life

Before entering politics, she worked as a Junior Assistant in the State Irrigation and Power Department from 1979 to 1983, and later as an Assistant Professor at Shri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre at Rairangpur until 1997.

Murmu has witnessed a tumultuous personal life, having lost her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, and her two sons. She also has a daughter, Itishri.

She is the youngest and first individual born after India’s independence in 1947 to have been elected President.

Political Career

1997: Droupadi Murmu started her political career in 1997 as a councillor in Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat after winning the election.

2000: She won the 2000 Odisha Legislative Assembly election from Rairangpur constituency. She served as Minister of State with Independent Charge for Commerce and Transportation, and Fisheries and Animal Resources Development during her tenure.

Murmu served two terms in the Odisha Legislative Assembly between 2000 and 2009, in CM Naveen Patnaik’s BJD (Biju Janata Dal) and BJP (Bhartiya Janta Party) coalition government.

BJD-BJP End Alliance

2007: The Odisha Legislative Assembly honored Droupadi Murmu with the ‘Nilakantha Award’ for best MLA.

2009: Murmu contested the Lok Sabha election from Mayurbhanj constituency, but lost as the BJD and BJP ended the alliance.

2010: Elected as BJP’s District President of the Mayurbhanj (West) Unit; re-elected in 2013.

2013: Murmu was named a BJP National Executive (Scheduled Tribes Morcha). She also served as the Vice President and later President of BJP’s ST Morcha in Odisha.

Governorship and The Pathalgadi Movement

2015: Droupadi Murmu was appointed the Governor of Jharkhand and she became the first-ever tribal leader and woman to hold the post.

In November 2016, the Raghubar Das-led BJP government passed amendments to two centuries-old land laws — the Chotanagpur Tenancy (CNT) and Santhal Pargana Tenancy (SPT) Acts — that would have allowed the easy transfer of tribal land to the government for commercial use. An Indian Express report states that the proposed amendments had led to massive protests by tribal communities across the state.

The Police responded with a violent crackdown on tribal communities and criminal cases were filed against several people including tribal rights activist Stan Swamy. The then Governor Droupadi Murmu was reportedly criticized in the start for not being too assertive towards the police authority.

However, eight months later, in May 2017, when was called on by the delegation and she returned the laws asking the government to clarify how the amendments would benefit tribals. The bill was later withdrawn in August 2017. 

As Governor, Murmu was in power in the BJP-led Union Government throughout her six-year tenure, until 2021.

In June 2022, she was nominated as the National Democratic Alliance (NDA)’s candidate for President of India for the 2022 election.

Murmu secured a clear majority in the 2022 Presidential election and will assume office on 25 July 2022.

Related Posts

Skip to content