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All India Radio: Azaadi ka Safar

  • IASbaba
  • November 18, 2021
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Nov 16: Birsa Munda https://youtu.be/Od6nKnUWzTs 

TOPIC:

  • GS-1: Freedom fighters 

Context: As India celebrates Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, one name stands tall among the galaxy of stars who fearlessly worked for the freedom of the motherland against the oppressive British Raj — Bhagwan Birsa Munda. Birsa Munda lived a short — just 25 years — but valiant life. His life story, full of gallant efforts to fight injustice and oppression, represents a strong voice of resistance against colonialism.

  • 5th of November is the birth anniversary of the fearless freedom fighter and tribal hero, Birsa Munda. 
  • The state of Jharkhand was created on his birth anniversary in the year 2000.

Background

  • Born at Ulihatu village in Khunti district of Jharkhand on 15 November, 1875. 
  • Birsa belonged to the ‘Munda’ tribe of Chota Nagpur region. 
  • Birsa received his education in Salga under the guidance of his teacher Jaipal Nag. Later, Birsa converted into a Christian to join the German Mission School but soon dropped out after finding out that Britishers were aiming to convert tribals to Christianity through education.
  • After dropping out of school, Birsa Munda created a faith called ‘Birsait’.
  • Members of the Munda community soon started joining the faith which in turn became a challenge for the British conversation activities.

Birsa’s beliefs and his fight against Britishers

Fondly called ‘Dharti Abba’ or Father of the Earth, he encouraged his followers to get back to their tribal roots and follow their traditions. Birsa believed that self-rule is the only way to protect tribal rights. He raised the slogan “Abua raj seter jana, maharani raj tundu jana” which means ‘Let the Kingdom of the Queen be ended and create our own kingdom’. It became one of the famous slogans which helped to organise Birsa’s guerrilla army and attack the British army in different parts of Chota Nagpur region. 

Though he lived a short span of life, Birsa Munda is known to have mobilised the tribal community against the British and had also forced the colonial officials to introduce laws protecting the land rights of the tribals.

Spearheaded movement against British oppression giving a call for ‘Ulgulan’ or the Great Tumult (Revolution).

Munda Revolt: In the late 1890s, Birsa set out to abolish the feudal system that the British had introduced in the Adivasi forest land. 

  • Under this system, the British invited migrants from other states to take over work on tribal land, while they usurped all the profits. Thus, the original owners were left bereft of their land and any means of livelihood. 
  • In March 1900, while fighting the British alongside his guerilla army, Birsa was arrested in Jamkopai forest in Chakradharpur. A few months later, he passed away in custody. The icon of India’s Independence struggle attained martyrdom on 9 June at the age of 24. 
  • Almost a decade after his death, the British introduced the Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act (CNT), which prohibits the transfer of tribal land to non-tribal parties. 

Birsa’s achievements as a young tribal revolutionary has continued to be celebrated over decades now and he has successfully carved out a space for himself in popular and folk literature, academia, and mass media.

Janjatiya Gaurav Divas: 15th November, the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda

  • The declaration acknowledges the glorious history and cultural heritage of tribal communities. 
  • The day will be celebrated every year and would recognize the efforts of the tribals for preservation of cultural heritage and promotion of Indian values of valour, hospitality and national pride.

Birsa Munda museum: In Ranchi

Can you answer the following question:

  1. Contribution of Birsa Munda to India’s freedom struggle

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