A woman panchayat leader's fight against corruption, another illiterate panchayat leader's endeavour to make education a reality for her village - stories of struggle and commitment, drawn out of the lives of seven women panchayat leaders were put together in a book that was released yesterday.
Titled Sarpanch Sahib: Changing the face of India the book has been compiled by well known authors Manju Kapur, Indira Maya Ganesh, Sonia Falerio, Kalpana Sharma, Tishani Doshi, Abhilasha Ojha and edited by Manjima Bhattacharjya. One of the women panchayat leaders whose inspirational story appear in the book is Chinapappa.
An illiterate from Tamil Nadu, she has been working in the area of providing education to children, especially to girls. "When I go on rounds, I meet women and tell them that If I had been educated, I would have done much better in life. People have made a fool of me because I was not literate. My focus is now in this field (educating women)," Chinapappa told IANS at the book launch.
Amongst the other women whose life's stories and crusades have been recounted in the book are Deepanjali, an Adivasi, who has completed her graduation and is bringing about various societal changes in Kalahandi, Orissa.
In a tea garden in Assam, Maloti, a panchayat leader has been finding innovative ways of governing her constituency while Veena Devi, a young widow and now a seasoned politician fights criminalised politics in Bihar.
Maloti was instrumental in building a dam in her area that not only saved the lives of people, but their paddy fields too. "My focus is on farmers. And I realised that the floods bring so much havoc in their lives. I helped in building a dam," she said.
Maloti, who learned cycling at the age of 40 years so that she could go around the tea estates that fall in her area and meet people, said the dam ensured that the people were not afraid of the floods and were safe.