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Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as India’s first tribal president

#Droupadi #Murmu #sworn #Indias #tribal #president

Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as India’s president on Monday, becoming the first person from one of the country’s marginalized tribal communities to serve as head of state.

The former schoolteacher and state governor was elected to the largely ceremonial post last week with 64 percent of the vote by members of India’s parliament and state assemblies.

Murmu, of Santhal tribe and born in the eastern state of Odisha, paid her respects at a memorial dedicated to Indian independence hero Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi before her inauguration.

“I started my life’s journey in a small tribal village,” said Murmu, 64, after taking the oath of office in Parliament.

“Coming from the background that I come from, even getting an elementary education was like a dream for me,” she added.

“But despite many obstacles, my resolve remained strong and I became the first daughter from my village to go to college.”

Murmu’s victory was considered certain due to the strength of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies in parliament and state assemblies.

Analysts said the move is likely to help Prime Minister Narendra Modi expand his base among poor tribal communities ahead of his re-election in 2024.

“Your assumption of the presidency is a turning point for India, especially for the poor, marginalized and oppressed,” Modi said on Twitter after Murmu’s speech.

Murmu said her election would bring hope to those left behind by India’s recent economic growth.

“It gives me great satisfaction that those who have been disadvantaged for centuries, who have been deprived of the benefits of development, see their reflection in me,” she said.

India’s prime minister exercises executive power, but the president can send some parliamentary bills back for reconsideration and also plays a leading role in the government-forming process.

Murmu is the country’s second female president after Pratibha Patil, who held the post for five years from 2007.

She succeeds Ram Nath Kovind, second president of the Dalit community, the lower end of the Hindu caste system.

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