From Rairangpur to Raisina, Your Excellency, Madam President Draupadi Murmu

From Rairangpur to Raisina, Your Excellency, Madam President Draupadi Murmu

In the historic 75th year of independence, India achieved another milestone by electing the second woman and the first Adivasi as the President of India.

Draupadi Murmu, the former governor of Jharkhand, registered an emphatic win over rival presidential candidate, Yashwant Sinha, in the presidential election held on July 18, 2022. On July 25, 2022, she was sworn in as the 15th President of the Republic of India, and thus becoming the first tribal woman to occupy the highest office in the country as well as the youngest President of the country till date.


In Hindu mythology, the name Draupadi is synonymous with feminine power and grace as well as endurance. Contrary to the prevalent tradition, Draupadi lived with her famous-five husbands.

Much like her famous namesake of Mahabharat, Smt. Draupadi Murmu is also an iconoclast of her time being a trailblazer in her community with many firsts to her credit. Her success is the triumph of human will against insurmountable odds of life.


She became the first girl in her village to complete matriculation and go to college. Draupadi Murmu’s journey from a very humble background to now being the country’s first tribal President is an inspiration for the tribal community of India, especially women belonging to the downtrodden sections of the society.

Draupadi Murmu was born in a Santhali tribal family on June 30, 1958, in Uparbeda village, which falls under the Mayurbhanj district in Odisha.

After graduating from Rama Devi Women’s college in Bhubaneswar, she started her professional career as a junior assistant in the State Irrigation and Power Department from 1979 to 1983. This short stint was followed by a long spell of 14 years as a teacher at Sri Aurobindo Integral Education Centre at Rairangpur till 1997.

Draupadi Murmu’s foray into politics began in 1997 when she joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Her first stint in active politics began with her getting elected as the councillor of the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat.

Her political career got a further boost in the year 2000 when she became the chairperson of the same panchayat. Her organizational acumen got noticed in these two posts and gained the attention of the party, which then elevated her to the position of the national vice president of the BJP Scheduled Tribe Morcha. There has not been any looking back since then.

She contested the assembly elections to the Odisha legislature in the year 2000 and got elected from the Rairangpur assembly constituency. Following the victory, she was inducted as a member of the council of ministers in the BJP and Biju Janata Dal coalition government in Odisha.

She was entrusted with the portfolio of commerce and transportation from March 2000 to August 2002 as the minister of state with independent charge. Later, from August 2002 to May 2004, she was in charge of the ministry for fisheries and animal resources development.

She got re-elected from her assembly constituency in the year 2004. In the year 2007, she was conferred with the Nilkantha Award for the best MLA by the Odisha assembly. Following a parting of ways between the BJP and the BJD.

She could not continue in any gubernatorial position till the year 2015. She continued to be a very active member of the BJP and worked to further the cause of the party within the state of Odisha.

For her consistent and dedicated hard work, the party rewarded her by appointing her as the governor of Jharkhand, a neighbouring state of Odisha, in the year 2015. She became the first woman governor of Jharkhand and also earned the distinction of being the first woman tribal leader from Odisha to be appointed as the governor of a state.

Her stint as governor was quite eventful as she refused to give her consent to the bill seeking amendments to the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act, 1949 in the year 2017.

She expressed her reservations about specific provisions in the bill and sought an explanation from the Raghubar Das-led BJP government on the issues. She was concerned that the new amendments would take away the rights of the tribal communities affected by the bill and would put them in financial distress.

This catapulted her to national prominence and made her the symbol of tribal empowerment and established her as a tribal leader.

She had a terrific tenure as governor of Jharkhand, where she took a deep interest in promoting education in tribal societies as she was keenly aware of the power of education to transform lives, her own life being an excellent example of that.

She devoted her time as governor to serving society, particularly with regard to the oppressed and marginalized section of the society and empowering poor. She put her wide administrative experience to good use during her gubernatorial tenure in Jharkhand. All this endured her to the tribal community and helped her to carve out a special niche for herself in public life.

Her political journey was beset with personal setbacks. Her youngest son died under mysterious circumstances in the year 2009. The tragedy did not end there. She lost her eldest son in 2012, and her husband, Shyam Charan Murmu, who was a banker, died in the year 2014. It was her mental resilience that helped her tide over the series of personal setbacks and lose her poise and balance. She presently has a daughter named Itishree Murmu who is a banker in Bhubaneswar.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, himself hailing from a humble background, expressed his deep appreciation and admiration for her struggle against poverty and hardships. He said her life would be a source of motivation and inspiration for millions of people from the deprived sections of society who are struggling to get ahead in life. He also hoped that her compassionate nature admixed with an understanding of policy matters will greatly benefit the country.


The President of India is elected for a period of 5 years by an electoral college comprising of all elected MLAs and MPs from across the country. The President of India is the constitutional head of state, and the primary duty of the President of India is to uphold, defend, and preserve the Indian constitution and the law. No law can be implemented in the country without the President’s signature. The President is accorded the status of the first citizen of the country.

The 64-year-old Draupadi Murmu’s ascension to the post of President of India is sure to bring in all-round development of the tribal communities of India spread across the length and breadth of the country. Empowerment of tribal women will reach new heights and bestow them with dignity that they were deprived of from the time of independence.

edited and proofread by nikita sharma

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