Representation, All the Way Up
About President Murmu
- She is the first person belonging to the Scheduled Tribes (ST) community and the second woman to occupy the highest constitutional post of the country.
- She is also the youngest person to be elected as the President and the first to be born in independent India.
- Pratibha Patil was the first woman President of India.
- KR Narayanan was the first Dalit President of India.
- Ms. Murmu was born in a village in Mayurbhanj district in Odisha and belongs to the Santhal tribe.
About Santal Tribe
- Santhal is the third largest scheduled tribe community in the country after Gond and Bhil.
- The word ‘Santhal’ is derived from two words; ‘santha’ meaning calm and peaceful and ‘ala’ meaning man.
- Santhals speak Santhali which has its own script called ‘OL chiki’ invented by Pandit Raghunath Murmu.
- Santhal houses called ‘Olah’ are distinct and can be identified from a distance.
- They are large, neat and attractive with multi-coloured paintings on the outside walls.
- The ascent of an Adivasi woman from a humble background to the highest constitutional post is an unprecedented triumph, at least symbolically if not substantially.
- This was facilitated by the constitutional reforms which strengthened the local government establishment as she began her political career as a councillor in the Rairangpur Nagar Panchayat.
How Panchayati Raj Evolved in India
- Mahatma Gandhi aimed at making the village the core unit of governance.
- This was opposed in the constituent assembly by many members including Dr BR Ambedkar who famously said “What is the village but a sink of localism, a den of ignorance, narrow mindedness and communalism. I am glad that the Draft Constitution has discarded the village and adopted the individual as its unit.”
- This view was later challenged by multiple committees including Balwant Rai Mehta Committee, Ashok Mehta Committee, G V K Rao Committee, L M Singhvi Committee and others who espoused the need for a strengthened local self-government system in India.
- In December 1992, the Parliament passed the 73rd and 74th Amendments that mandated the creation of democratically elected Panchayats and Municipalities, respectively.
- These amendments were aimed at making rural and urban local governments function as “institutions of self-government” and meet the stated ends of economic development and social justice.
- The amendments mandated the reservation of seats in the elected councils of Panchayats and Municipalities to members belonging to the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and STs based on their percentage population in the jurisdiction and a minimum of one-third seats for women.
- Seats in Panchayats and Municipalities are hence reserved not only for SCs, STs and women, but also for categories like SC Women, ST Women and OBC Women.
- Hence this resulted in the political upliftment of a group that was ostracised from the public sphere for a long period of time.
How successful have been these measures?
- Even after 3 decades, the local self-government institutions cannot be said to have become “units of self-government” due to issues in both the design and the implementation of the amendments.
- However, they have increased the diversity and representativeness of the Indian political system.
- As many as 20 States have increased women’s reservation from 33% to 50%. As of September 2020, out of a total of 31,87,320 elected representatives in Panchayats across India, 14,53,973 are women.
- However, there are still voices calling these measures and achievements as having no impact on the day-to-day life of the SC/ST community or women.
Source The Hindu
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