Context: The Prime Minister of India has paid tributes to Bhagwan Birsa Munda on his Jayanti.

About Birsa Munda:

  • Born in 1875, he was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe. 
  • He spearheaded a tribal religious movement that came to be known as Ulgulan (revolt) or the Munda rebellion that arose in the Bengal Presidency in the late 19th century against the British Raj imposed feudal state system.
    • His struggle against the exploitation and discrimination against tribals led to the passing of the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act in 1908 which restricted the passing of land from the tribal people to non-tribals.
  • He organized masses to stop paying debts or interest to moneylenders and taxes to the British. 
    • By this, he led a revolt to bring an end to Victorian rule and the establishment of Munda Rule in Jharkhand (erstwhile Bengal Presidency region).
  • He formed two military units - one for military training and armed struggle, the other for propaganda. 
    • He combined religion with politics and traveled across villages giving discourses and building a politico-military organization.
  • For his contributions, he is often referred to as ‘Dharti Abba’ or the Earth Father, thereby making him an important figure in the history of the Indian independence movement. 
  • His portrait hangs in the Indian Parliament Museum, he is the only tribal leader to have been so honored.

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