Shahdol (Madhya Pradesh): President Droupadi Murmu on Tuesday underlined the need to learn from tribals on the conservation of forests given the major challenges being posed by issues like climate change and global warming.
The President was addressing a 'Janjatiya Gaurav Diwas' programme in Madhya Pradesh's Shahdol district.
The Narendra Modi government had last year declared November 15 as 'Janjatiya Gaurav Divas' to mark the birth anniversary of tribal icon Birsa Munda and remember the contribution of tribal freedom fighters.
"Today, issues of climate change and global warming have posed a major challenge to the world. There is a need to learn from the tribal lifestyle and their determination for conserving forests," President Murmu said while addressing the event in Lalpur village.
The President recalled the struggle of tribal society in conserving and protecting forest areas during British rule and added they have also sacrificed their lives for this cause.
Murmu, who became the first tribal President of the country in July this year, said tribal society gives equal importance to human beings and vegetation.
"In the tribal society, groups are given importance rather than individuals. Cooperative (living) is preferred instead of competition and equality over speciality," she said, adding the tribal society has a better gender ratio compared to other communities.
The President recalled former Prime Minister (late) Atal Bihari Vajpayee had constituted a separate ministry (for tribals)- Janjatiya Karya Mantralaya, which she said played a major role in the development of tribal areas in the country.
The President also praised tribal communities for their natural lifestyle, saying it helped in protecting and conserving forests and also nature's wealth.
President Murmu said she was happy to get the opportunity to pay respect to the statue of Bhagwan Birsa Munda at his village Ulihatu in Jharkhand. Visiting places associated with his birth and work is like visiting any other holy place for me, she added.
The President praised the Madhya Pradesh government for implementing the Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act on the occasion.
The PESA Act 1996 was formulated to prevent the exploitation of the tribal population with the active involvement of gram sabhas. It gives special power to gram sabhas in scheduled areas, especially for the management of natural resources.
Union ministers Arjun Munda and Faggan Singh Kulaste, Madhya Pradesh governor Mangu Bhai Patel and chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan also addressed the audience.
Chouhan highlighted the salient features of the PESA Act for the welfare of the tribal communities such as mandatory permission from the gram sabha for opening a wine shop and intimating the village body in case any FIR is filed against a tribal person.
The President is on a two-day visit to Madhya Pradesh.
On Tuesday evening, President Murmu will attend a civic reception to be hosted in her honour at the Raj Bhawan in the state capital Bhopal and virtually lay the foundation stones for projects of the Union ministries of Defence, Road Transport and Highways, an official had said.
Under the Ministry of Defence, the President, who is also the supreme commander of the Armed Forces, will lay the foundation stone of Maximum Microbial Containment Laboratory (BSL-4) at the Defence Research and Development Establishment (DRDE), Gwalior, he said.
The President will also lay the foundation stone for the four-laning of the Ratapani-Obeidullaganj-Itarsi section of the National Highway 46, a project being helmed by the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the official said.
The President will address a conference of women's self-help groups (SHGs) in Bhopal on Wednesday before returning to New Delhi, the official added.