Birsa Munda museum paves the way! Ten tribal museums coming up across India to showcase tribal history

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November 18, 2021 5:45 PM

The Bhagwan Birsa Munda Smriti Udyan-sah-Swatantrata Senani Sangrahalaya has been developed in the Ranchi prison where Birsa died at 24 in 1900.

birsa mundaThe 25-acre museum development included conservation and restoration of the Old Birsa Munda Jail and the erection of 25-foot statue of Birsa. (Twitter/G Kishan Reddy)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated a museum in Ranchi dedicated to Birsa Munda, the folk hero and freedom fighter, on his birth anniversary on Monday. The government billed the day as India’s first Tribal Day (Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas).

Modi hailed the contribution of tribal communities to nation building and said it was a duty to take this soul of India that drew energy from the tribal community to greater heights.

The Prime Minister also said work was progressing rapidly on nine other tribal museums across the country. Tribal museums will come up shortly in Rajpipla (Gujarat), Lambasingi (Andhra Pradesh), Raipur (Chhattisgarh), Kozhikode (Kerala), Chhindwara (Madhya Pradesh), Hyderabad (Telangana), Tamenglong (Manipur), Kelsih (Mizoram), and Ponda (Goa), Modi added.

These museums, apart from making newer generations aware of the pride of tribal history, will also provide a fresh impetus to tourism, Modi said. The museums will preserve and promote the music, crafts and handicrafts, and art-skills of tribal communities passed down from generations.

Birsa Munda museum
The Bhagwan Birsa Munda Smriti Udyan-sah-Swatantrata Senani Sangrahalaya has been developed in the Ranchi prison where Birsa died at 24 in 1900. The project was completed at a cost of Rs 37 crore — Rs 25 crore borne by the Centre and the remainder by Jharkhand. The 25-acre museum development included conservation and restoration of the Old Birsa Munda Jail and the erection of 25-foot statue of Birsa.

Statues of other tribal heroes such as Poto Ho, Sidhu-Kanhu, Gaya Munda, Telanga Kharia, Diva-Kisun, and Jatra Bhagat have also been erected on the complex.

A display is dedicated to Birsa and there will also be a light-and-sound show. There are mixed media murals with motion sensor, hologram projection, and interactive multi-touch walls.

Modi said Birsa Munda’s revolution was not limited to victory and defeat, but an inspiration for hundreds of years. Birsa gave his life for culture, society, and the country and exists as God in the faith and spirit of Indians today, Modi added.

Museums elsewhere
The proposed museum being developed at Garudeshwar near Rajpipla in Narmada district of Gujarat is the biggest of the planned museum series. The 70-acre project, being built at a cost of Rs 137 crore, will be dedicated to heroes of the freedom struggle. It was scheduled to be completed by 2020, but the outbreak of Covid-19 delayed the project.

The museum will have multi-dimensional displays that narrate tales of freedom fighters in three phases: pre-Sepoy Mutiny (1857), Sepoy Mutiny to the close of the 19th century, and the 20th century up to 1947. The Centre and the state government are each contributing Rs 50 crore for the project. The land has been provided by the Gujarat government.

The Rs-26-crore museum being developed in Raipur will showcase Veer Narayan Singh’s movement; the Rs-35-crore museum in Lambasingini will celebrate Alluri Sitarama Raju; the Chhindwara museum (Rs 39 crore) will be dedicated to tribal leaders from Madhya Pradesh; the one in Kozhikode (Rs 16 crore) will commemorate tribal freedom fighters and their leader Thalakkal Chanthu.

Modi will lay the foundation stones for the Ramji Gond museum in Hyderabad and the Rani Gaidinliu museum in Makhal Village of Manipur in the coming days.

Tribal outreach
Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Renuka Singh told the Rajya Sabha in July that the ministry had approved Tribal Freedom Fighters Museums in 10 states as part of the Centre’s ‘Support to Tribal Research Institutes’ scheme. The museums will acknowledge the heroism of tribal people who struggled against the British, she had said.

The current push is part of the Azadi ka Amrut Mahotsav celebrations. In his 2016 Independence Day speech, Modi expressed a desire to construct permanent museums in states where tribal freedom fighters hailed from.

Following the Ministry of Tribal Affairs’ consultations with the states, the Centre approved six museums in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Kerala in 2017-18. In sanctioned Rs 250 crore for the project. Two more museums were approved in 2018-19 and two others in 2020-21.

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