Government of India has declared 15th November as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas dedicated to the memory of brave tribal freedom fighters. The declaration was done during 2021.
India’s freedom struggle was strengthened by several movements by tribal communities such as Santhals, Tamars, Kols, Bhils, Khasis and Mizos to name a few. The revolutionary movements and struggles organized by the tribal communities were marked by their immense courage and supreme sacrifice. Tribal movements in different regions of the country against the British colonial rule got linked with the national freedom struggle and inspired Indians all over the country. However, the public at large is not much aware about these tribal heroes.
To make the coming generations aware about their sacrifices to the country, Government has declared 15th November as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas.
The date is the birth anniversary of Sri Birsa Munda who is revered as Bhagwan by tribal communities across the country. Birsa Munda fought bravely against the country against the exploitative system of the British colonial system and spearheaded movement against British oppression giving a call for ‘Ulgulan’ (Revolution). 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.
Born on 15th November 1875, in Ulihatu village of a present-day Jharkhand, Birsa spent his childhood in abject poverty in a tribal Munda family. This was the time when exploitative British Raj started penetrating into the deep jungles of Central and Eastern India, disrupting the tribals who had been living in harmony with nature and natural resources. The Britishers introduced a feudal Jamindari system in Chhota Nagpur region, destroying tribal Khuntkatti agrarian system. The Raj brought in the outsiders - moneylenders and contractors, as well as feudal landlords, which aided the British in exploitation of tribals.
It all culminated into Birsa Munda taking up the cause of Adivasis. He worked for refining and reforming the religious practices, discouraged many superstitious rites, brought in new tenets, new prayers, reformed many habits, and worked for restoring and reviving the tribal pride. Birsa impressed upon the adiwasis about “Sirmare firun raja jai” or ‘victory to the ancestral king’ thus invoking sovereignty of the tribals’ ancestral autonomous control over the land. Birsa became a mass leader, and began to be considered as a Bhagwan and Dharati Aba by his followers.
Birsa Munda had clearly identified that the British colonial rule was the root cause of all the problems and oppressions. It was amply clear to him that “Abua raj setar jana, maharani raj tundu jana (meaning: Let the Kingdom of the Queen be ended and our kingdom be established). Bhagwan Birsa ignited the spark in the minds of the masses. The Mundas, Oraons, other adivasis and non-adivasis responded to his call and joined ‘Ulgulan’ against the colonial masters and the exploitative dikus under the leadership of Birsa, for their social, economic, political and cultural emancipation. Soon he was captured by British police and lodged in jail, where he died in captivity on 09 June 1900.
But Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s spirited struggle did not go in vain. It compelled the British Raj to take cognisance of plight and exploitation of tribals, and brought in ‘Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act of 1908’ for protection of Adiwasis. This important act restricted the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals, giving huge relief for the tribals, and became a landmark legislation for protection of tribal rights.
Government of India has planned several events across the country to celebrate and commemorate the glorious history of tribal people, culture and achievements.
As part of the celebration, several activities have been planned jointly with State Governments and the theme behind each activity is to show case the achievements of tribals in Indian Freedom struggle, various welfare measures taken by Government of India in education, health, livelihood, Infrastructure and skill development. The events will also display the unique tribal cultural heritage, their contributions in freedom struggle, practices, rights, traditions, cuisines, health, education and livelihood.
To commemorate the contribution of the tribal freedom fighters, the Ministry of Education in association with the AICTE, UGC, Central Universities, Private Universities, other HEIs, CBSE, KVS, NVS and Skilling institutions is celebrating ‘JanjatiyaGaurav Divas'. The nationwide celebrations of JanjatiyaGaurav Divas will witness a large number of programmes such as debate competition on the theme ‘Contribution of Janjati Heroes in freedom struggle’, social activities, etcin the educational institutions across the country. The contributions of brave tribal leaders like Bhagwan Birsa Munda and others will be highlighted during these celebrations. The students will also be felicitated for the good work.
Last Modified : 11/10/2023