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Jaipal Singh Munda: A Tribal Writer, Athlete And Political Leader

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On December 1946, when the constituent assembly was discussing on new Constitution, the national movement leader: Pt Nehru, Patel, Ambedkar and Sarojini Naidu had uttered on Democracy, Fundamental Rights and Liberty. Then on 16 December, 1946, a voice raised and heard very deep, that was Jaipal Singh Munda for the first time.

Singh said, “I rise to speak on behalf of millions of unknown crowds — yet very necessary — as non-recognised fighters of freedom, the authentic and native people of India who have variously been recognised as a backward tribe, primitive tribe, criminal tribe and a whole lot. Sir, I’m proud to be a Jungli; also that is the name by which we are known in many parts of the country. 

“As a Jungli, as an Adivasi, I’m not expected to apprehend the prison intricacies of the resolution. You can’t teach democracy to tribal people; you have to grasp democratic ways from them. They’re the foremost Democratic folks on earth.”

The Journey from Pramod Pahan to Jaipal Singh Munda

Jaipal Singh Munda was born in 1903, 2 years after Bhagwan Birsa Munda was martyred, in the same Munda tribal area where the fire of freedom had not extinguished against the outer British Raj. That Munda area is still the same fighter today. But now there is nothing left in that village for anyone to know that it is the village of the same person called Marang Gomke (Great Leader) of the Adivasi.

Singh was born as Pramod Pahan and acquired a new name and date of birth in 1911 when his father enrolled him in the St Paul’s School in Ranchi. But he says he never could remember why his name changed. At the age of 13, Jaipal was sent to Oxford missionaries to study priesthood. He always described him and his family rich and wealthy according to Adivasi culture.

While studying in Oxford, Singh was not merely bookish; he was a sportsman, skilled speakers and popular organisers. His skill and knowledge were created by the social and political movements that Europe was centred on. He graduated in 1926 with honours in social science associate degreed and was conjointly the primary Indian student to become an Oxford Blue in hockey.

In 1928, Singh captained the Bharat squad at the Amsterdam Olympic Games to win its first-ever Olympic trophy. In 1938, he came to Ranchi and was elected as the President of the Adibasi Mahasabha.

In the political-economic world, it was ruthlessly crushing the diverse societies which were shaking their way and the opposing masses. The citizens of his own country whose hard work laid the foundation of the British Empire were refusing to give citizenship.

Like the Aryans, Britain’s white society hated and called them coloured instead of being called human. History, language, literature, culture, knowledge and art skills were incorporated and adapted in the European framework for their profit and economic prosperity.

Being a student of economics, Singh had a keen eye on all these political ups and downs. His deep and sharp eyes can be seen with great vigour in his later life. From a player, he became a teacher, teacher to administrator and administrator to a politician. In every phase, he pulled a line from his intellect which no one has been able to do to reduce.

Whether it was the playground or politics, with his unique and remarkable organisational capabilities and talent in the 50s, he modified the “Adivasi Sabha” into the “All India Adivasi Mahasabha” for the rights and participation of tribals in the new fresh democratic society of India.

A Bengali Son-In-Law: A Visionary

Singh was asked to resume his education on the condition that he would do it for an additional year. This implies that his probation was extended for a year. He felt that his dignity and self-esteem were being affected by this determination. So he did not attend ICS training again; instead, he returned to India.

Singh met his future wife Tara Winfred Majumdar in Calcutta. She was Womesh Chynder Banerjee’s granddaughter, the first president of the Indian National Congress in 1885. But their marriage did not last long.

The assignment took him from Calcutta to the Gold Coast in Ghana, Africa, and to Raipur, the present capital of Chhattisgarh. He moved on to Rajputana, where he was appointed Colonial Minister and Tax Commissioner in the princely state of Bikaner. His unimpeachable achievement as a minister and tax commissioner earned him rewards and he was appointed foreign minister of Bikaner state.

First Gold Medalist Captain of India

Indian_hockey team 1928 Olympics
In 1928, while he was in England, Singh was asked to captain the Indian hockey team for the 1928 Olympic Games.

Singh was a man of many parts — an accomplished writer, excellent public speaker, iconic hockey captain, visionary, patriot and a tireless campaigner for tribal affairs. When he was selected to captain the Indian hockey team for the Olympic Games, the authorities at the Indian office refused him permission to play in the Amsterdam Olympics. His options were limited, either Olympic hockey or ICS.

“I didn’t get a vacation. I decided to defeat the verdict and take the consequences,” he said later. By opting for the former, he brought India’s first Olympic medal to a compatriot he has apparently forgotten.

As an athlete, he believed that when a door closes before a determined man opens at the same time. An athlete does not see defeat as a defeat but sees it as a challenge, and at its core turns into an opportunity.

Demanded a Separate State For Jharkhand

Demand for separate Jharkhand state was established in Indian politics. He gave an appropriate reply to each plan to divide the social groups within the name of faith and arranged all tribal teams out of the kin group within the political landscape of recent Bharat as a thought. He repeatedly aforementioned, “The social group folks are the foremost democratic community within the world.”

From them, new Bharat and Indian society can be compelled to learn democracy. He wanted no religious, communal, ethnic and gender discrimination in the way of thinking of tribals. The same idea should be in the Constitution, the political parties here, and the country’s people.

His dream of a tribal-state has partially turned into reality. His vision for the Adivasi state was bigger, comprised the Tribal district of Bengal and Madhya Pradesh, besides those of Bihar and Orissa. He wanted Ranchi and there he was received tumultuously by the tribals. The rest is history.

His dream for a separate tribal state fructified in the midnight of 15 November, 2000. A new State of Jharkhand came into being.

Choose Education, Health and Employment Instead of Reservation

Singh was the sole political leader in the 50s who accentuated basic desires like education, health, and employment instead of reservation. He advocated for “equal opportunities for living” for the tribals, dalits, backward, and country girls. He believed that the new Republic of India ought to emphasise the equality of chance.

We have to expand this kind of governance system, a system wherein there may be no restriction for women, tribal and anti-caste politics and society. But his idea changed into omitted via means of the whole Constituent Assembly and Gandhi-Nehru, Jinnah, and Ambedkar.

Divide the country into portions and set the entire country into a place of racial, sexual, ethnic and non-secular violence. In which it’s far nevertheless burning.

It is the fulfilment of Singh’s tribal policy that the country’s tribal community is not ready to abandon its system of self-government and its symbiotic ideology. However, these constitutional provisions did not apply as they wanted, which is why, despite the fifth-sixth list and the TAC, India’s tribals have to fight for water, forest and earth. In its original proposal, the TAC was an influential tribal political institution.

A Speaker who Gave Goosebumps to All

Singh bemoaned the lack of tribal representation in the Constituent Assembly, particularly the lack of a single tribal woman member.

He argued that legislative intervention was imperative to raise the adivasi community’s social, economic and education standards. Further, he wanted Adivasis to be given reservation in the legislature.

Highlighting the troubled history of exploitation and dispossession of the adivasi people, he still hoped that independent India would offer a new chapter for the people, an India: “Where there is equality of opportunity, where no one would be neglected.”

Singh is undoubtedly one of the twentieth-century dreamers who had no other connection, who sacrificed ICS for the country, who gave up his favourite hockey game because of apartheid, sacrificed his love for the Jharkhand movement, abandoned Tara and the children. He has not earned any personal property, never been caught up in corruption.

Such a parable is not found in the life of any other politician in India. He is accused of having sold Jharkhand to Congress, which was, in fact, a political settlement, there are many unsuccessful political compromises in the world, the responsibility of which is not completely lost on politicians, but Singh, the victim of a political betrayal, was expelled to his own house. The existence of tribal and separated Jharkhand in the country can only be imagined by them.

He is a true tribesman — a dreamy tribal writer, journalist, athlete, experienced organiser, ideological theorist and political leader.

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As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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