When a lady becomes the sarpanch of a village, some unusual problems are created. Let me relate a humorous incident when I was working in Haryana.
At one of the meetings, a gentleman introduced himself as SP. I told him that this is a BJP meeting, not a government one, so he could not attend it.
He countered that he had been attending all such meetings in the past. We kept on arguing, and would have argued even more, till he revealed that SP means ‘Sarpanch Pati’ (husband of the Sarpanch), not Superintendent of Police.
I request all lady sarpanches to keep the responsibility of their position in their own hands, and not pass it on to their husbands.
I am reminded of a meeting with some 17 ladies from Umreth village about five years back.
They informed me that their village had collectively decided not to have any male member in the panchayat.
I was pleased to see these ladies taking up the entire responsibility of the village.
My conversation with them is still fresh in my mind as it was very inspiring for me.
They told me that they wanted to free their village from poverty.
In the past, I have seen panchayat members demanding grants and making applications to the government for building roads and schools, but the desire of these ladies to remove poverty from their entire village was a unique one.
I instructed the district officer to support them for the next five years and in that time, they worked endlessly to give work to every poor person in the village.
These elected ladies had thought of something that no-one else in India has seriously considered. We usually consider women to be weaker than men, but I feel that women are stronger.
If I ask a man to go and talk to a group of ten women, he might hesitate; but if I ask a woman to give a message to ten men, she will go up to them at once without becoming nervous or conscious. It is important that women should have the desire to improve their village and stop wrong things from happening.
I promise all ladies that if they undertake this task, the State Government will help them in all ways.
I will personally ask the TDO and DDO to help them out in any task that they plan to carry out, even more than what they help the men, because women succeeding at this job will give a new ray of hope to everyone.
Farmers on the Path to Success
There is a village in Kutch by the name of Gorevadi, near the Pakistan border.
The people of this village are always willing to work on construction sites, be it a five-star hotel or a palatial house.
The village Linchakdi in South Gujarat exports cashewnuts and mangoes to the tune of ` 200 lakhs every year, creating financial independence for the natives.
I request all the members of panchayats to create an environment where it is possible for the youth to find employment.
Achievements such as these are possible if there is a vision and the willingness to work hard. Gujarat has carried out several projects for water Conservation.