Saturday, March 25, 2023

Murmu takes over as India’s 15th president

Her election is proof the poor can dream and fulfil them too, India’s 15th president and its first tribal head of state Droupadi Murmu said after taking oath of office on Monday, a landmark day that melded tradition with the aspirations of a modern nation.
President Murmu, who is the second woman in the top constitutional post, succeeds Ram Nath Kovind and was sworn in by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana at Parliament’s Central Hall. The tribal leader, India’s youngest president at 64 and the first to be born after Independence, took oath of office in the name of god to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution and the law”.
“It is the power of India’s democracy that a girl born in a poor tribal home could reach the topmost constitutional post,” she said in her address, marking her journey from Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district, one of the most underdeveloped in India, to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Murmu, who began her speech in Hindi with “Johar”, a traditional tribal greeting, and “Namaskar”, said, “That I attained the post of president is not my personal achievement. It is the achievement of every poor person in India. My election is proof of the fact that the poor in India can have dreams and fulfil them too.” In an address that lasted a little over 18 minutes, she spoke on a gamut of issues, including the poor, tribal communities, sustainable development as well as the government’s digital India and ‘vocal for local initiatives’ and its handling of the Covid pandemic.
As celebrations broke out in several parts of the country, she said she belonged to tribal society and had got the opportunity to rise from serving as a ward councillor to becoming the president of India.
“This is the greatness of India, the mother of democracy,” she said to thunderous applause from the gathering that included Prime Minister Narendra Modi, ministers, former president Pratibha Patil, MPs as well as leaders such as Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik who backed her election.
The day, which started with outgoing president Kovind and Murmu arriving in a procession from the Rashtrapati Bhavan to the Parliament Building, was edged with ceremony and celebration. India’s new president was given a 21-gun salute after which she signed the oath register to applause and the thumping of desks.
After the short ceremony, Murmu and Kovind were escorted out of the Central Hall amid the roll of drums and blowing of trumpets.
Taking to Twitter, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the entire nation watched with pride as Droupadi Murmu took oath as the President of India, calling it a watershed moment for the country’s poor, marginalised and downtrodden.
PM said Murmu’s first address as President was about giving a message of hope and compassion. “She emphasised on India’s accomplishments and presented a futuristic vision of the path ahead at a time when India is marking Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav.”
Meanwhile, former president Kovind and his family, who move to a bungalow in Lutyens Delhi, were given a formal send-off by the prime minister and other dignitaries as well as the Rashtrapati Bhavan staff.


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