Today, we remember revolutionary Birsa Munda on his death anniversary. Frankly, he was martyred in Ranchi Jail on June 9th, 1900 after he was arrested long back and kept there by the British authorities. His 25 years life was actually far bigger in the struggles and achievements of his work. Historians have done great injustice to him as many relegated him to Jharkhand or Adivasi struggle and not as a struggle for freedom of India. It is like this, any struggle for the demand of the savannas became a national struggle but demand for the rights of Adivasis was confined to states or at the maximum, a localised movement.
Birsa Munda and his struggle has become more important and far more relevant in today’s time. British colonial authorities realised his work and feelings of understanding the Adivasi sentiments. The impact of his fight against the colonial attempt to control the forests zones in the region was realised in the form of the important acts as SPTA and CNTA which acknowledged the rights of the Adivasis on the forest areas.
Birsa Munda actually symbolised the resistance of Adivasis against the foreign intrusion and the determination to lead an autonomous and self-ruled life. These questions are still relevant as it does not matter who are the exploiters, the love for nature and protecting forest was the main concern of the indigenous people who nurtured them more than their lives but today we have seen much worst situation when greedy corporate are eyeing those rich land nurtured so passionately by the Adivasis. Decade after decade, we hear this raga of ‘development’ which does not involve the Adivasis and what they want in their zones. The whole concept is basically to create new privileges for the power elite in the name of ‘development’. So modern-day ‘development’ has become destruction for nature and the lives of the indigenous people as they remain excluded in the entire process.
In the post COVID era, we will have to seriously question our developmental model. Protection of nature and living in complete harmony with it is what the Adivasi life tells us. We will have to learn a lot from our indigenous people and their lifestyle. Protect our earth in turn it will protect our lives.
Birsa became a legend in his own lifetime. Just 25 years and he proved how big he was and that his work, struggles and achievements remain his most powerful message which is clear and unambiguous, protect your land and forests as they are our life ad culture. You can not allow our cultural heritage to be exploited by the greed of the corporate. His life message was grounded in his ancestral land and its culture. That we can not survive on colonial mindset and solution provided by it subsequently. The answer to our problems can only come through an indigenous concept and being in complete harmony with nature.
Salute to Birsa Munda and his revolutionary life.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat