New Delhi: Right from starting her maiden speech on Monday as President with the traditional tribal greeting of ‘Johar’ to ending it by quoting famous Odia saint and poet Bhim Bhoi, Droupadi Murmu’s address was rich in the invocation of India’s tribal legacy.

In her over 18-minute speech at Parliament’s Central Hall after taking oath as India’s first tribal President, she highlighted the community’s glorious contribution to the country’s freedom struggle by mentioning Santhal, Paika, Kol and Bhil revolutions which happened in various regions.

“All these revolutions had strengthened the tribal contribution in the freedom struggle. We derived inspiration from the sacrifice of ‘Dharti Aaba’ Bhagwan Birsa Munda Ji for social upliftment and patriotism. I am happy that many museums are being built across the country dedicated to the role of the tribal communities in our freedom struggle,” she said.

Birsa Munda is a revered figure from the tribal community who led an uprising against the British.

Hailing from the Santhal tribe, the most populous Scheduled Tribes community in the country, Murmu, 64, also highlighted her life journey which started in a small tribal village in Odisha and how she became the first person from there to get a college education.

With the tribals, a large number of whom have traditionally lived in forests, known for living a life in harmony with nature, Murmu said the role of India’s ancient traditions and sustainable lifestyle becomes more important when the world is talking about a sustainable planet.

“I was born in that tribal tradition which has lived in harmony with nature for thousands of years. I have realised the importance of forests and water bodies in my life. We take necessary resources from nature and serve nature with equal reverence.

“This sensitivity has become a global imperative today. I am happy that India is guiding the world in the field of environmental protection,” she said.

As someone who started community service as a teacher before becoming a councillor and then an MLA and minister in Odisha government as a BJP leader before taking charge as a governor in 2015, she said she has realised the meaning of life only through public service.

She then quoted famous poet Bhim Bhoi, who also came from a tribal community and said, “Mo Jeeban pachhe narke padi thau, jagato uddhar heu”, which translates as that working for the welfare of the world is far greater than one’s own interests.

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