Janjatiya Gaurav Divas: Commemorating Tribal Fortitude And Inclusivity

SYNOPSIS

The celebration of Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Ulihatu Village embodies a profound tribute to the tribal community’s resilience and valour that is epitomized by the legendary figure Bhagwan Birsa Munda. As the first sitting Prime Minister to grace Ulihatu, Prime Minister Modi embarks on a transformative journey, unveiling the visionary Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra and the Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM PVTG) Mission. These initiatives signify a comprehensive approach toward achieving the saturation of government schemes and uplifting particularly vulnerable groups. The release of the 15th instalment under PM-KISAN, alongside transformative development projects, underscores the commitment to holistic progress. The legacy of Birsa Munda is immortalized in a museum that highlights the pivotal role of tribal leaders in shaping the nation. This celebration not only honours the past but charts a course towards an inclusive and empowered future for all.

Introduction

Every nation consists of many different communities, religious, social, ethnic, linguistic, etc. No nation can dream of becoming a true power without the active support of an overwhelming majority within each of these communities. In the unity of many communities lies the strength of an entire nation. In order to be united, there ought to be necessary respect in the eyes of a person towards another person and similarly, a community vis-à-vis another community as well. It is with this idea that the government has decided to celebrate the Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas to ensure that the tribal community feels pride and the nation can express its gratitude for the courage, valour and sacrifice of the community in the struggle towards freedom from the colonial masters and mindset as well.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Historic Visit to Ulihatu Village

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is making history as the first sitting Prime Minister to visit Ulihatu Village, the revered birthplace of Bhagwan Birsa Munda. This momentous visit is coinciding with Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas which introduces the visionary Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra—a crucial initiative to ensure the success of government flagship schemes.

Adding to the significance is the launch of the Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups Mission, backed by a substantial budget of approximately Rs 24,000 crore. In a generous act, the Prime Minister will release the 15th instalment, amounting to around Rs 18,000 crores, under the transformative PM-KISAN initiative and inaugurate multiple development projects in Jharkhand.

Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra: Pioneering Saturation of Flagship Schemes

In a strategic move to achieve the full saturation of government flagship schemes, the Prime Minister is set to initiate the ‘Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra’ on Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas. This transformative journey aims to directly engage with people, creating awareness and delivering the benefits of key welfare schemes include areas such as sanitation, financial services, electricity access, LPG distribution, housing for the underprivileged, food security and healthcare and potable water. Kicking off in Khunti, Jharkhand, and the Yatra will commence in tribal-dominated districts, gradually extending its reach to cover all districts nationwide by January 25, 2024.

PM PVTG Mission: Elevating Vulnerable Tribal Groups

A pioneering step towards inclusivity, the ‘Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM PVTG) Mission’ will be unveiled during the program. With a substantial budget of approximately Rs 24,000 crore, this mission seeks to uplift 75 particularly vulnerable tribal groups residing in 22,544 villages across 18 states and Union Territories. The focus lies on providing these groups with basic facilities such as road connectivity, electricity, housing, sanitation, education, health, and sustainable livelihood opportunities.

15th Instalment of PM-KISAN and Comprehensive Development Initiative

Demonstrating a steadfast commitment to agricultural welfare, the Prime Minister will release the 15th instalment, totalling about Rs. 18,000 crores, under the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) will be disbursed to over 8 crore beneficiaries, showcasing the Prime Minister’s unwavering commitment to farmers’ welfare. The inauguration, dedication, and foundation stone laying for projects valued at around           Rs. 7200 crores across various sectors, including rail, road, education, coal, petroleum, and natural gas, underline the government’s holistic approach towards national development. Notable projects include the Mahagama – Hansdiha and Basukinath – Deoghar road stretches, KDH-Purnadih Coal Handling Plant, and the new campuses of IIM Ranchi and IIIT Ranchi. The Prime Minister’s leadership extends to railway projects, such as the doubling of Hatia-Pakra, Talgaria-Bokaro, and Jarangdih-Patratu sections, alongside the accomplishment of 100% Railway Electrification in Jharkhand, all symbolizing a resolute commitment to comprehensive progress.

The Legacy of Birsa Munda: A Struggle Against Exploitation

The government of India decided to celebrate November 15th as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas every year starting in 2021 to commemorate the birth of Birsa Munda. In the year 1875, Ulihatu village in the Ranchi district witnessed the birth of a child named Birsa, after the day he was born (Thursday/Brihaspativar). Despite the limited means of the family, they were able to send Birsa to a missionary school for his education. After years of study in these British-encouraged missionary schools, he comprehended that the true intent of the British was to deprive the tribal communities of their forest rights. The struggle to protect land, forest, and water rights has persisted for millennia among the tribal community. Despite the widespread poverty in the region, the British introduced the Indian Forest Act, requiring permission to enter forests and use resources. Studying religion, philosophy, Mundani traditions, policy, and other customs of forest-dwelling communities, Birsa understood that missionaries and colonialists were indeed the same people, as evidenced by his quote ‘Saheb-Saheb, Topi Ek.

Birsa’s Vision for Change

Birsa realised that the tribal community was trapped in superstitions. He raised the issue as being a major reason for the constant exploitation by the colonial powers, and something that needed to be changed immediately. He attempted to organise the tribal society at three levels: (a.) cleanliness and education, (b.) economic and social reform, and (c.) awareness campaigns about their political rights. These would enable the tribal community to move towards a path away from superstition, hypocrisy and the begari system that had become a part of the tribal life. In fact, this led to a widespread fight against the zamindari and revenue system imposed by the British as well as the greedy moneylenders who would take possession of tribal lands in lieu of loans that they had advanced. In August of 1897, Birsa attacked a police station with about 400 tribals with him on this heroic fight at the Doumbri hill near Ranchi. The last fight between Munda and the British ensued in January 1900 after which the British crushed the movement. Arrows and bows with which the tribals fought bravely were no match to the British cannons and guns. Eventually, Birsa was arrested from Chakradharpur and imprisoned where he died due to slow poisoning.

Birsa’s Enduring Impact: A Triumph Engraved in History

Birsa Munda’s saga of heroism lingered in the annals of history long after his departure. His uprising, known as ‘ulgulan,’ against the British immortalized his name in the golden pages of Indian history, earning him the revered title of ‘Bhagwan Birsa’ among his devoted followers. His thoughts and deeds exemplified a life devoted to society, culture, and country, a testament to his unwavering commitment.

The recent establishment of a museum in honour of Birsa Munda on November 15, 2021, further solidifies his lasting impact. This recognition signifies a profound appreciation for the valour of the tribal community, fostering increased awareness of their influential figures across socio-political realms. Looking ahead, there is a visionary initiative to incorporate tribal leaders, who resisted colonial rule, into a national museum. This endeavour aims to honour and acknowledge the unrelenting efforts and contributions of the tribal community.

The nationwide observance of Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas becomes a pivotal moment in this collective journey, emphasizing the importance of understanding, acknowledging, and appreciating the monumental role played by the tribal community in safeguarding the nation’s forests, culture, and overall well-being.

 Conclusion

In commemorating Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic visit to Ulihatu Village, the nation pays homage to the indomitable spirit of the tribal community, epitomized by the heroic figure of Bhagwan Birsa Munda. As the first sitting Prime Minister to step onto the sacred grounds of Ulihatu, Prime Minister Modi not only makes history but reinforces the government’s commitment to uplifting and empowering the tribal communities. The launch of the visionary Viksit Bharat Sankalp Yatra and the Pradhan Mantri Particularly Vulnerable Tribal Groups (PM PVTG) Mission stands as a testament to a holistic approach towards achieving saturation of government schemes and ensuring the welfare of particularly vulnerable groups. The release of the 15th instalment under PM-KISAN and the inauguration of transformative development projects further underscore the commitment to comprehensive progress and agricultural prosperity.

Birsa Munda’s legacy, rooted in a valiant struggle against exploitation, resonates through the ages. His vision for social reform and political awareness continues to inspire, exemplified by the establishment of a museum in his memory. The elevation of tribal leaders to a national museum signifies a significant stride in acknowledging and appreciating their monumental contributions to the nation.

As the nation celebrates Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas, it not only honours the past but also charts a course towards a future where the tribal communities are revered, their contributions recognized, and their welfare prioritized. Prime Minister Modi’s visit and the multifaceted initiatives unveiled mark a defining moment, shaping a brighter, more inclusive, and empowered future for all.

*Dr. Maheep is associated with the Faculty of Political Science, IGNOU. He teaches a course on Indian Political Thoughts to the scholars of the PG Programme.

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