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Draupadi Murmu: Jharkhand’s Ex-Governor Is The Face Of Tribal Feminism In Modern India

What do we know about Draupadi Murmu, the ex-Governor of Jharkhand? A look at this amazing woman of tribal (Santhal) origins. 

What do we know about Draupadi Murmu, the ex-Governor of Jharkhand? A look at this amazing woman of tribal (Santhal) origins. 

Draupadi Murmu, a formidable bosslady, whose absence creates an undeniable hollow in Jharkhand, could usher a new era in Odia rajniti (politics).

A woman with an illustrious career, Draupadi Murmu has transcended all stereotypical bounds, and deserves to be lauded.

Draupadi Murmu started her career as a teacher, and went on to become the first woman to hold the office of Governor in Jharkhand, and is the first tribal leader to hold this office in any Indian state. Her presence is widely known to transpire a positive and lively aura around her.

An alumnus of the Rama Devi Women’s college, she is known widely for her proactive contribution to social and philanthropic causes, and community upliftment.

The journey taken by Draupadi Murmu to becoming Governor

Draupadi Murmu was the only one among three siblings, who pursued higher education in Odisha’s capital city. She would dream of studying and supporting her family, an aspiration that her grandmother too shared with her. However, poverty was the least of her problems.

Post marriage, she did not have adequate support from her in-laws to continue her job. So, she took up the honorary position of Assistant Professor at Shri Aurobindo Integral Education & Research, Rairangpur, where she continued to work on a pro-bono basis to promote social, cultural and educational rights.

Soon after, she joined the irrigation department of Odisha as a Junior Assistant and continued to advocate tribal rights, child rights, and women’s empowerment. Murmu has been heard saying in an interview that she could have never imagined traversing the path of politics to reach such heights that she has achieved today, back in those times.

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Making her political debut at a time when politics was a difficult career choice for women, she won the seat of Councilor and Vice- Chairman of Rairangpur Notified Area Council (‘NAC’) in 1997. She has never turned back since.

Positions usually held by men…

Today, she strongly advocates 50% reservation for women in politics.

An astute politician hailing from the Scheduled Tribes (ST) community, she also became the Vice-President of State Scheduled Tribes wing of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) in 1997. She won her first legislative assembly seat from Rairangpur in 2000 and became a minister of state in the Naveen Pattnaik led coalition with BJP.

During the ministerial stint, she remained in charge of the Dept. of Transport & Commerce until 2002. She continued as a minister of the Dept. of Fisheries & Animal Husbandry under Govt. Of Odisha until 2004.

It is pertinent to note that Draupadi Murmu held prominent positions in the party, conventionally held by men, in the decade of 2000 to 2010. She became a National Executive member of BJP ST wing in 2002 and went on to become the State President of the wing until 2009. She was then elected as District President, BJP of Mayurbhanj (Odisha) in 2010, and re-elected in 2013. She continued in the position until she became the Governor of Jharkhand in 2015.

It must be noted that she was awarded the prestigious ‘Nilakantha award’ for the best MLA in 2007 by the legislative assembly of Odisha.

She is the first Governor of Jharkhand to complete the five year term and had also been projected for the Presidential candidature.

Having lost her husband and two of her children, Draupadi Murmu’s personal life has been through and out marked with tragedies that too failed to deter her aspirations. She has, despite all setbacks, remained a woman of mettle and an epitome of resolve and tenacity for everyone, irrespective of caste, class, or gender. Swift as a deer, and blessed with the vision of a hawk, the state of Odisha witnesses the homecoming of its unsung heroine.

Draupadi Murmu presenting Samvidhan: Ek Vishleshan- a book on the Constitution of India, by the acclaimed Maithili author Shri Vidyanand Jha, to the President of India His Excellency Ram Nath Kovind and his wife, Savita Kovind.

Author’s note: The aforementioned facts are based on publicly available information only.

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About the Author

Trisha Shreyashi Mishra

The author is freelance legal draughtswoman. She is also a member of the academia at Harvard Business Review and Cambridge University Press. read more...

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