This UP village’s first woman pradhan leads Covid fight
Thirty-three-year-old Rita Varma, the newly elected gram pradhan of Kabirpur, a village on the outskirts of Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, has hardly had the time to celebrate her win in the recent panchayat elections.
In her win, Kabirpur, popularly known as ‘Band Baja Barat’ village for most of its men being members of brass bands which play music at wedding functions, also found its first woman gram pradhan. However, Verma had to hit the ground running as people in this village started falling ill soon after her election.
“Soon after election, several people took ill. Many were suffering from fever, but they were hesitant of getting tested for Covid. It was then I started a campaign to create awareness about coronavirus in my village of around 20,000 people,” she says.
“I motivated the residents, especially the senior citizens, about the importance of getting tested so that the infection doesn’t spread further, and precious lives are saved. Due to the steps taken, our village is almost corona-free today.”
Her husband, Umesh Kumar Varma, chips in, “I was taken aback when she expressed her desire to contest the election. You may think she is an average homemaker but she has always been vocal about the problems of poor sanitation, roads and lack of health infrastructure in the village. She created awareness about health and hygiene among the women.”
Varma got almost 50% votes and defeated the sitting pradhan by a huge margin. From the very next day, she started her campaign to educate villagers about the importance of Covid appropriate behavior. She formed teams in every lane which keep a check on the movement of residents without masks or those violating social distancing.
Next on her agenda is opening of primary health centre (PHC) or a dispensary in Kabirpur. “Presently, anyone who falls sick has to go to Gosainganj for treatment. I have written to authorities for the need of a PHC or a dispensary so that people don’t die due to lack of medical infrastructure. Besides, I have formed groups in every lane to make people aware of the importance of lockdown, social distancing and sanitisation during the present testing times. I have also asked for additional sanitation workers to keep the drains and lanes clean. If I don’t get them, we will perform kar sewa to do it ourselves.”