her own caste and society for the last 70 years. It was Budhni who inaugurated Damodar Valley Corporation’s
Nehru. But, after this day, her caste-society had stuck a line of contempt on her forehead, which she continued
to bear throughout her life.
The whole story of Budhani Manjhiyain is strange. That date was 6 december 1959. The then Prime Minister
Pandit jawaharlal nehru had come to inaugurate the Panchet Dam and Hydel Power Plant built by DVC
(Damodar Valley Corporation) in dhanbad district of Jharkhand. It was decided that Pandit Nehru would be
welcomed by Budhni Manjhi, a girl from the Santhali tribal community of Jharkhand.
Pandit Nehru had honored
Budhni used to work as a laborer during the construction of this dam. At that time his age was about 15 years.
Budhni, dressed in traditional tribal attire and jewellery, welcomed Pandit Nehru and garlanded him. Pandit
Nehru, while respecting Budhni, took off his garland and put it around her neck. Pandit Nehru also inaugurated
the hydroelectric power plant by pressing a button at the hands of Budhni. But how did this 15 year old girl
know that the respect she received in the presence of the prime minister would become a reason for her
contempt and ostracism in her own society? In fact, till then there was a tradition in the Santhal tribal society
then it will be considered as marriage. So, the garland which Pandit Nehru had respectfully put around Budhni's
neck, became a matter of concern for her. The news and pictures of the inauguration of Panchet Dam and
Hydroelectric Power Plant by Budhni were published prominently in all the newspapers of the country the next
day, but there was an opposite reaction to this development in the Santhal tribal community.