A presidential win for the cause of inclusion
The BJP’s elevation of Droupadi Murmu to the Rashtrapati Bhavan should be celebrated for her Adivasi identity. It should also cue us to reflect upon social justice and assimilation
In an ideal world, news of the election of Droupadi Murmu as India’s President would not be appended with her identity as an ‘Adivasi’. But it matters. That she will be our first ‘Tribal leader’ in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, thanks to the ruling party’s support, holds significance precisely because our politics is far from perfect. So long as various identifiable groups have uneven voices and identity continues to shape lives as a factor, the flaws of our democracy will be on display—most acutely visible to those left out. A fair stake in power for all is a national goal for good reason and every sign of progress on this must be celebrated. It should also cue some reflection on inclusion. Two points in favour of affirmative action to that end are worth a mention. The first is social justice, as nudged by this question: If we were all to be reborn at random as someone else, somehow, what methods and systems can we all agree upon to rule ourselves? The second is its value as a signal based on this insight: All will feel assured their group interests are kept at heart once we see the country’s powerful—its economic and governing elite—broadly reflect our actual social composition. While Dalits have had a long record of assertion and a major role in shaping our public life, Tribals have been more seen than heard. That must change.