Birsa Munda

NOV 16

Preliminary   > Modern Indian History   >   Personalities   >   Tribal uprisings

Why in news?

  • 15 November was birth anniversary of Birsa Munda.

About Birsa Munda:

  • Birsa Munda was an Indian tribal freedom fighter, religious leader, and folk hero who belonged to the Munda tribe.
  • He spearheaded a tribal religious millenarian movement that arose in the Bengal Presidency (now Jharkhand) in the late 19th century.
  • Birsa claimed to be a messenger of God and the founder of a new religion and his popularity among tribes like Mundas, Oraons, and Kharias rose rapidly.
  • Later He declared that he had come to recover the lost kingdom of his people and that the reign of the Queen Victoria was over, and the Munda Raj had begun.
  • Soon Birsa was arrested and sentenced to two-year imprisonment but released in 1898.
  • Soon Mundas under him launched attacks on symbols of authority and places loyal to British.
  • The movement was violently supressed and Birsa Munda died in the jail on 9 June 1900.

Munda Rebellion

  • Munda Rebellion was a tribal rebellion lead by Birsa Munda in the region south of Ranchi in 1899-1900.
  • The revolt mainly concentrated in the Munda belt of Khunti, Tamar, Sarwada and Bandgaon.
  • It was called the ulgulan, meaning 'Great Tumult', by munda tribals  and sought to establish Munda Raj and independence.
  • It ended with suppression by British forces and the death of Bisa Munda.


  • Erosion of  khuntkattidar  system
    • The Mundas traditionally enjoyed a preferential rent rate as the khuntkattidar or the original clearer of the forest.
    • But in course of the 19th century they had seen this khuntkatti land system being eroded by the jagirdars and thikadars coming as merchants and moneylenders.
  • Land alienation and exploitation by Outsiders
    • The establishment and consolidation of British rule accelerated the mobility of the non-tribal people into the tribal regions.
    • Money lending at very high interest rates and lack of legal knowledge of Mundas were used to deprive them of their land and wealth.
    • The incidence of forced labour or beth begari also increased dramatically.
    • Unscrupulous contractors turned the region, into a recruiting ground for indentured labour.
  • Missionary activity:
    • Yet another change associated with British rule was the appearance of a number of Lutheran, Anglican and Catholic missions.
    • The spread of education through missionary activities made the tribals more organised and conscious of their rights.
    • However it also lead to social cleavage between the Christian and non-Christian Mundas deepened.
    • This helped the rise  of the movement, which sought to reconstruct the tribal society disintegrating under the stresses and strains of colonial rule.

Jharkhand State:

  • First ministry of Jharkhand took oath on 15 November 2000 on the birth anniversary of tribal leader Birsa Munda.


Consider the following statements regarding Tribal rebellions in India:
1.Santhal Rebellion was an aftermath of setbacks faced by British in revolt of 1857.
2.Rampa rebellions were tribal rebellions that took place in present day Gujarat. 
Which among the above statements is/are correct?
(a)1 only
(b)2 only
(c)Both 1 and 2
(d)Neither 1 nor 2

Answer to prelims question