India elected its 15th president- Droupadi Murmu, the first tribal president and is second woman after Ms. Pratibha Patil to hold the office.
Murmu, born in 1958, hails from Odisha. She represents one of the largest tribal communities, the Santhals. She is also the first president born in independent India.
She started her career as a teacher and a clerk at State Irrigation and Power Department. She rose to politics after joining the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 1997 as a councilor in local Notified Area Council in 1997. From 2000-2004, she served as a minister and in 2015, she was appointed as the ninth and the first woman governor of Jharkhand for the next six year.
Despite criticisms of her inadequate efforts to implement the self-governance rights of tribal communities, she played a major role to preserve the laws that safeguarded the tribal communities’ rights to their lands. The Pathalgadhi movement that arose to protect certain tenancy acts from being amended had even claimed the life of a tribal rights activist. Murmu refused to amend the bills that would otherwise have allowed commercial use of the tribal lands by government and private corporate.
Murmu also approved the Freedom of Religion bill in 2017 that makes coercion to convert religion a public offense subjected to three years prison; and if the coerced person belongs to the scheduled caste or a tribe, the sentence is increased to four years.
She also supported in amending the Land Acquisition Act 2013, which now requires government to ensure compensation to the acquired land of tribal communities within 6 months.
Fluent in Santhali and Odia language, she has also worked far and wide in improving infrastructures of Odisha. In her political career, she has contributed to different sectors ranging from transport, commerce to fishing and animal husbandry.
She also recently shared that her actual name is ‘Puti Mudu’ and she was renamed to ‘Draupadi’ by her school teacher.
Having lost her husband, two sons, brother and mother in the span of seven years between 2009 to 2015, she later embraced the Brahma Kumaris spiritual movement.
Murmu took an oath on 22 July 2022 succeeding the former president Ram Nath Kovind.