Ram Dayal Munda, a key figure in creation of Jharkhand, passes away
Musician, linguist, writer, scholar, educationist, institution-builder, tribal activist — and a key figure in creation of Jharkhand — Ram Dayal Munda passed away in Ranchi on September 30 at the age of 72.
I saw him last on March 30 at a conference of the All-India Adivasi Mahasabha: as the three-day conclave concluded at the Talkatora Indoor Stadium here, Adivasis sang and danced together, unmindful of the varied regions they came from, their brilliant costumes blending with each other. Dr Munda — who had not yet been diagnosed for cancer — leapt off the stage, and joined fellow Adivasis, singing, playing the nagora (drum), and dancing with abandon, his long hair flying.
"Dance to survive"
Dr. Munda believed strongly that the Adivasis would survive only if their culture continued to flourish: Nachi se banchi (Dance to survive), he would say. Indeed, for him, the preservation of the tribal way of life, culture and languages was integral to his work of improving their lot, and fighting for their rights to the forest land they lived on.
Later that day, he lamented that the Union Tribal Affairs Ministry was not much more than a "post office" — it must become, he said, "a genuine nodal agency for issues concerning the welfare of the tribal communities." Implement all the constitutional provisions, laws and government schemes for the Adivasis, he said, and the first step to tackling the Maoists would be taken.