Droupadi Murmu has officially taken oath as India’s President, making her the first person from one of the country’s most marginalised tribal communities to serve as the head of state. The former school teacher and state governor was elected to the position last week with 64 percent of the votes by members of India’s parliament and state assemblies.
Murmu is from the Santhal tribe and was born in eastern Odisha state; she paid her respects before her inauguration on Monday, July 25th, at a memorial dedicated to India’s independence icon Mahatma Gandhi in New Delhi. She has succeeded Ram Nath Kovind, the second president of the Dalit community, which falls at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. Murmu is the country’s second female President after Pratibha Patil, who held the position for five years from 2007.
“I started my life journey from a small tribal village,” Murmu, 64, said after being sworn in as the President. “From the background I come from, it was like a dream for me even to get elementary education,” she added. “But despite many obstacles, my resolve remained strong, and I became the first daughter from my village to go to college.”