In the first phase of the fifth panchayat elections in Haryana and after the mandatory educational qualification criterion came into force, 1,068 women were elected as sarpanches across the state.
About 10% of these, 108 to be precise, are graduates or hold higher educational qualification. While many of them might end up acting as proxies for their spouses and fathers, there are others who are well-educated and intend to hold their own. HT profiles eight women at the helm.
Gurvinder Kaur: Defeated three male contenders
Educational Qualification : MA in Hindi and history, MEd from Kurukshetra University
Professional background : Taught Hindi at a private college in Barara village till about three years ago before deciding to quit to take care of her family.
More about her :Fighting on a seat not reserved for women, Gurvinder Kaur defeated all her three male rivals. Her family and fellow women folk persuaded her to jump into the fray and today she is first in her family to don the role of a sarpanch. For the time being, Gurwinder wants to concentrate on her present role instead of thinking about other elections
Richa : Banker... Teacher... now, sarpanch
Educational Qualification : MBA from Kurukshetra University
Professional Background : She worked at a private bank for a year and also taught at a private college for about three years till 2012.
More about her : Richa defeated her sister-in-law, whose husband is the former sarpanch. She decided to jump into the fray as soon as the seat got reserved for women
Suman : Bring the change you want to see
Educational qualification : MSc in biotechnology
Professional background : She worked as a quality control chemist at a private pharmaceutical company at Kala Amb (Nahan) till 2013, when she decided to quit the job for the sake of her family.
More about her : Concerned about the plight of the village, Suman decided to contest the elections as soon as the seat was reserved for women. “One has to make a beginning,” said Suman, who defeated a two-time sarpanch. Her parents, who were illiterate and ran a dairy in a Panchkula village, have guided her throughout her life.
Veerpal Kaur : Double joy for this political family
Educational qualification : MCom, diploma in banking, insurance and finance from a Delhi institute
Professional background : Worked as a senior officer at the ICICI bank.
More about her: After giving birth to a boy a day before polling, Delhiborn Veerpal went on to win the election by just one vote. Her mother-in-law was sarpanch from 2005-10 and the father-in-law retained the seat. She entered into the fray after the seat was reserved for women and new qualification criterion came into force. Giving up her career, she hopes to contest the assembly polls.
Saroj Serhrawat: Most educated ‘Bahu’ of the village
Educational qualification : Graduation and masters in English from Osmania University, Hyderabad; After wedding, BEd from Delhi and MEd from Kurukshetra University, MPhil besides clearing Central Teacher Eligibility Test.
Professional background : Homemaker
More about her : A mother of two, Saroj also plans to get enrolled into the LLB course. She says her husband, Rajiv, who works in a private company in Gurgaon, and in-laws have always encouraged her to study.
Rajini Malik: A Political matrimony bears fruit
Educational qualification : MSc in mathematics, BEd besides qualifying the National Eligibility Test
Professional background: Homemaker
More about her : Sonu, a constable with the Delhi Police, married Rajni just a month ago. As his mother was not eligible to contest the elections, the family pinned all their hopes on the newlywed bride. Rajni says she is fully capable of fulfilling her responsibility, and go for “bigger elections” in future.
Manjri Tyagi : From Dentist to village head
Education qualification : Graduation in dental surgery
Professional Background : Practising at a private clinic in Kurukshetra city.
More about her : The Chandigarh-born sarpanch credits her doctor husband’s uncle Ved Prakash Kaushik for convincing her to contest the elections. Manjri says she will take guidance of her elders, but resist any undue interference.
Sweety : Using MBA degree for village welfare
Educational Qualification : Bachelor in pharmacy, MBA
Professional Background : Homemaker
More about her :Despite being highly educated, Sweety never applied for a private job. Speaking in fluent english, she says her top priority is to work for the people and her dream has come true. Wife of a government employee, she aspires for bigger political roles.
( Contributed by Rajesh Moudgil, Vishal Joshi, Neeraj Mohan and Bhaskar Mukherjee)