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Remembering Birsa Munda on Janjatiya Gaurav Divas

Nov 15, 2022

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Today’s edition of our Current Affairs will comprise a discussion on Remembering Birsa Munda on Janjatiya Gaurav Divas. Read further to upgrade your UPSC CSE knowledge and also understand the topic’s relevance to the UPSC syllabus.

For Prelims: History of India and Indian National Movement

Birsa Munda, Munda Rebellion, Zamindari system, Christian Missionary, Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act of 1908, Janjatiya Gaurav Divas.

For Mains: GS Paper I- Modern Indian History

About Birsa Munda, Contributions of Birsa Munda, Munda Rebellion, Other Tribal Revolts.

Context

Recently, the Indian Prime Minister paid tributes to Bhagwan Birsa Munda on his birth anniversary on 15th November, a day which is also celebrated as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas.

Probable Question

What motivated Birsa Munda to start Munda Rebel, and also what was the outcome of the rebellion? Explain. (10 marks, 150 words)

About Birsa Munda

  • Birsa Munda lived a short life of just 25 years, but a valiant life.
  • Birth: He was born on November 15, 1875, in Ulihatu village in present-day Jharkhand.
  • Childhood: Birsa spent his childhood in abject poverty in a tribal Munda family, the time when the exploitative Raj started penetrating the deep jungles of Central and Eastern India, disrupting tribals living in harmony with nature. 
  • Recognition: Birsa became a mass leader and began to be considered Bhagwan and Dharati Aba by his followers.
  • Death: Birsa Munda was captured by British police and lodged in jail, where he died in captivity on June 9, 1900. 

Major Contributions of Birsa Munda

He is one of the Tallest icons of Our Freedom Movement. 

  • He worked to refine and reform religious practices and discouraged many superstitious rites. 
  • He brought in new tenets, and prayers and worked to restore tribal pride. 
  • Birsa impressed upon the Adivasis the importance of “sirmare firun raja jai” or “victory to the ancestral king”, thus invoking the sovereignty of the tribals’ ancestral autonomous control over the land. 

Munda Rebellion

Causes

  • Zamindari system: This feudal system was introduced by the Britisher in the Chhota Nagpur region, destroying the tribal “Khuntkatti” agrarian system. 
  • Bringing Outsiders: Britishers brought in the outsiders such as moneylenders, contractors, and feudal landlords, to aid the British in their exploitation. 
  • Missionary: The unrelenting missionary activity continued with the active support of the Raj, insulting and interfering with the religious-cultural ethos of Adivasis.

Rebelers

  • The colonial forces and the dikus (outsiders, enemies) that worked against the interests of the local people, motivated the Young Birsa to fight this unholy nexus.
  • Bhagwan Birsa ignited the minds of the masses. 
  • The Mundas, Oraons, other Adivasis, and non-Adivasis joined the “Ulgulan” or revolt against the colonial masters and exploitative dikus.

Rebel

  • Birsa asked the people not to pay any rent, and attacked the outposts of feudal, missionary, and colonial authorities. 
  • They fought with traditional bows and arrows, and the tribals of Central and Eastern India waged an effective armed resistance against the British.

Outcome

  • The Munda’s rebellion compelled the British to take cognizance of the plight and exploitation of tribals, and bring in the Chhota Nagpur Tenancy Act of 1908 for their protection. 
  • This Act restricted the transfer of tribal land to non-tribals, giving Adivasis a huge relief and becoming a landmark legislation for the protection of tribal rights. 
  • The British regime also took steps to abolish Veth Bigari or forced labor. 

Also Read: Freedom of Religion and Attire

About Janjatiya Gaurav Divas

  • It is celebrated every year on the birth anniversary of Bhagwan Birsa Munda, on 15th November.
  • On this day various activities are being undertaken across the country by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, other state tribal institutes, and others. 
  • It is celebrated to commemorate the contribution of the tribal freedom fighters.
  • The celebrations are also organized to inspire the citizens to contribute in the fields of education, health, entrepreneurship, employability, and livelihood for the tribals and the conservation of tribal culture, art, and rich tribal heritage. 
Additional Information

Other Tribal Revolts

India’s freedom struggle was strengthened by several tribal communities. Following are a few major revolutionary movements and struggles organized by tribal communities:

Pahariyas Rebel (1778):

It was led by Raja Jagannath. As a result of their rebellion, Pahariyas territory was declared autonomous (damin-i-Koh areas) by the East India Company.

Chuar Uprising / Revolt of the Jungle Mahal (1766-72, 1796-1816):

Durjan Singh, a displaced zamindar, led 1500 the tribes of Midnapore & Bankura in West Bengal.

Bhil Revolts (1817-1846):

In 1913 the rebel again rose in South Rajasthan under the leadership of Gobind Guru for Bhil Raj.

Kol Mutiny (1831):

Buddho Bhagat led the revolt.

Ho Uprising (1820-1837):

Ho as well as Munda tribal leaders initiate the uprising as organized by the Raja of Parahat.

Koli Uprisings (1829, 1839, 1844-48):

Raghu Bhanagare was the leader of a group of Mahadev Kolis in Western Maharastra.

Khond Uprising (1837-1856):

Chakra Bishnoi led the revolt of the Khond tribe from Odisha to the Vishakhapatnam district of Andhra Pradesh.

News source: PIB, The Indian Express

https://pib.gov.in/PressReleasePage.aspx?PRID=1875984

https://indianexpress.com/article/opinion/columns/remembering-birsa-munda-on-janjatiya-gaurav-divas-7622723/

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