NEW DELHI: Droupadi Murmu was sworn in as India’s president on Monday, making her the
first person from one of the country’s marginalised tribal communities to serve as head of state.
The former school teacher and state governor was elected to the largely ceremonial position last
week with 64 percent of the vote by members of India’s parliament and state assemblies.
Murmu, who is from the Santhal tribe and was born in eastern Odisha state, paid her respects
before her inauguration at a memorial dedicated to India’s independence hero Mahatma
Gandhi in New Delhi.
“I started my life journey from a small tribal village,” Murmu, 64, said after taking the oath of
office in parliament.
“From the background I come from, it was like a dream for me to even get elementary
education,” 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 win was considered a certainty because of the strength of the ruling Bharatiya Janata
Party and its allies in the parliament and state assemblies.
Analysts said the move will likely help Prime Minister Narendra Modi extend his base among
the poor tribal communities ahead of his re-election bid in 2024.
“Her assuming the Presidency is a watershed moment for India especially for the poor,
marginalised and downtrodden,” Modi said on Twitter after Murmu’s address.
Murmu said her election would give hope to those left behind by India’s recent economic
“It is a matter of great satisfaction to me that those who have been deprived for centuries, who
have been away from the benefits of development… are seeing their reflection in me,” she said.
India’s prime minister wields executive power, but the president can send back some
parliamentary bills for reconsideration and also plays a guiding role in the process of forming
Murmu is the country’s second woman president after Pratibha Patil, who held the position for
five years from 2007.
She succeeds Ram Nath Kovind, the second president from the Dalit community, the bottom of
the Hindu caste system.