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- GS 1 || Indian Society || Social Movements || Tribal movements
Why in news?
The Modi government has announced that Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary – November 15 – will be celebrated as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas this year onwards.
- The Union Cabinet has declared November 15th as Janjatiya Gaurav Divas to commemorate tribal independence warriors’ achievements to the country.
- Birsa Munda, who is regarded as Bhagwan by tribal tribes across the country, was born on this day, and it was chosen as the anniversary of his birth.
About Birsa Munda:
- In 1875, Birsa Munda was born. He was from the Munda tribe, which lived on the Chota Nagpur Plateau. In order to enrol in the German Mission school, he converted to Christianity. He did, however, later decide to abandon Christianity and leave the School.
- Birsait Faith: He founded the Birsait religion, which worshipped just one god. Birsait quickly became the Mundas and Oraons’ most popular religion, thanks to his expanding influence in the tribal community. He was also known as ‘Dharti Abba,’ which means “Father of the Earth.”
- Birsa Munda was influenced by the Sardari Larai movement in the region during the 1880s, which urged the restoration of tribal rights by nonviolent means such as petitioning the Raj. These demands, however, were ignored by the harsh colonial authority.
- Political consciousness: Birsa Munda’s political consciousness and ability to interact with people laid the groundwork for later nineteenth-century tribal movements.
- Anti-colonial struggle: He became a symbol of the time’s anti-feudal and anti-colonial struggle. His charismatic demeanour and inspiring remarks inspired others to believe in the power of liberty.
- British power: His revolutionary work not only made a significant hole in British power, but it also helped tribals mobilise.
- It is because of him that many other activists and tribals in India today are inspired to fight for their rights.
Birsa Munda legacy:
- Birth and Early childhood
- Birsa, who was born on November 15, 1875, spent his childhood travelling from village to village with his parents.
- He was from the Munda tribe, which lived on the Chhotanagpur Plateau.
- He acquired his early schooling at Salga, where he was taught by Jaipal Nag.
- Birsa turned to Christianity on the advice of Jaipal Nag in order to enrol in the German Mission School.
- He, on the other hand, dropped out after a few years.
- ‘Birsait’ is a new religious movement that opposes religious conversion:
- The influence of Christianity may be seen in the way he later viewed religion.
- Birsa founded the ‘Birsait’ creed after becoming aware of the British colonial authority and missionaries’ efforts to convert tribals to Christianity.
- Members of the Munda and Oraon communities soon began to join the Birsait sect, posing a threat to British conversion efforts.
- Dharati Aaba, the father of the earth, was his Munda name.
- The Ulgulan:
- Birsa Munda organised the Great Tumult or Ulgulan to protest local authorities’ exploitation and persecution of tribals.
- Although the movement failed, it did result in the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, which prohibited tribal lands from being transferred to non-tribals, ensuring tribal land rights for the time being.
- Jharkhand was formed:
- Birsa Munda’s accomplishments are all the more impressive because he achieved them before the age of 25.
- On his birthday in 2000, the state of Jharkhand was established in honour of his contributions to the national struggle.
The revolts of the Birsaits:
- Feudal system: Birsa Munda overturned the feudal system installed by the British in the Adivasi forest in the late 1890s. The British allowed migrants from neighbouring states to labour over tribal lands and pocket all of the revenues under this system.
- Agrarian breakdown: As a result, the owners lost their ownership rights to the land and were left without a source of income. Birsa and his tribe revolted as a result of the agrarian breakdown and cultural upheaval.
- Fellow tribesmen: Birsa persuaded his fellow tribesmen to reject Christianity in 1895, guiding them to worship one God and demonstrating the path of purity, austerity, and prohibition of cow slaughter.
About Munda Rebellion:
- The Ulgulan: Birsa Munda was in charge. It was an uprising against colonial masters and exploitative dikus (outsiders) with the goal of establishing Munda Raj or Munda rule in the region. The Ulgulan, or “Great Tumult,” was the name given to the insurrection.
- Zamindari system: The British replaced the Munda tribals’ Khuntkari system with the zamindari system in 1874, causing the Munda Revolt. The zamindari system established the classes of zamindars (landlords) and ryots (servants) (tenants). It also increased the use of forced labour (veth bigari) in forested tribal areas, making tribals reliant on money lenders.
Causes of Munda Rebellion:
- The Munda Rebellion is one of the most important tribal movements. In the years 1899-1900, Birsa Munda led a movement in Ranchi’s south.
- The following forces, according to the movement, are to blame for the Mundas’ misery:
- The British land deals were destroying the tribal traditional land structure.
- Land was being taken over by Hindu landowners and moneylenders.
- Missionaries were criticising their ancestors’ way of life.
- The ‘Ulgulan,’ or ‘Great Tumult,’ as the motion was known, was aimed at establishing Munda Raj by expelling the British.
- Munda incited people by using traditional characters and language, exhorting them to destroy “Ravana” (dikus/outsiders and the British government) and establish a province under his control. Birsa’s supporters began attacking diku and British power symbols.
Importance of Munda Rebellion:
- The Munda Rebellion was significant in that it forced the colonial authority to issue ordinances to ensure that the tribals’ land could not be taken over easily by dikus under the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act of 1908.
- It suggested that indigenous people may combat injustice and express their dissatisfaction with the colonial law.
- Jharkhand Foundation Day (Jharkhand Foundation Day) is an annual event commemorating the Jharkhand means “Land of Forests” in Hindi. The Bihar Reorganization Act established the district on November 15, 2000, the fictional Bhagwan Birsa Munda’s birth anniversary. Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, and Chhattisgarh, as well as Odisha and West Bengal, all share a border with Jharkhand.
The End of a Devoted Life:
- Birsa, along with a few of his allies, were arrested and imprisoned. On the 20th of May 1900, he was brought before the court alongside his fellow countrymen, but he fell unwell on the way and was sent back to jail. His condition worsened after it was discovered that he was suffering from cholera.
- He died in prison on June 9, 1900. Birsa Munda’s death is surrounded by a conundrum. Although food poisoning is a possibility, the British government believe cholera was the cause of his death.
- Gaya Munda, his son, and Sukhram were the main defendants in the case against the Birsaites. Donka Munda Manjhia Munda, as well as 34 other Birsaites, were sentenced to be transported. Other Birsaites were imprisoned for a number of years. As a result, the life of a remarkable person, as well as the movement, appeared to be on the point of collapse. However, throughout the prior days, the Indian Freedom Movement drew inspiration from it.
How is the Birsa Munda legacy celebrated in the present time?
- Birsa Munda’s memory lives on, and Karnataka and Jharkhand tribal peoples commemorate his birth anniversary on November 15.
- Birsa Agricultural University, Birsa Institute of Technology, Birsa College Khunti, Birsa Institute of Technology Sindri, Sidho Kanho Birsha University, Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, Birsa Munda Airport, Birsa Munda Central Jail, Birsa Seva Dal, Birsa Munda Tribal University, Birsa Munda Athletics Stadium, Birsa Munda Airport, Birsa Munda Central Jail.
Mains oriented question:
Who was Birsa Munda? Write about his role in freedom struggle and legacy in detail. (200 words)