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Friday, April 24, 2015

End 'sarpanch-pati' culture in panchayats: Modi

End ‘sarpanch-pati’ culture in panchayats: Modi

Things have come to such a pass in our country that a Prime Minister needs to openly point out what disease we suffer from. Look at some of the basic lessons Mr.Modi had talked about:       

    1.       “End ‘sarpanch-pati’ culture in panchayats – the practice of husbands of women sarpanches exercising undue influence.” We are all aware that in many panchayats, municipalities and even municipal corporations, – especially those constituencies reserved for women - where a woman is the president, chairman, or mayor, her politically active husband is the true power center and she is otherwise, simply a ‘dummy.’ This has become the culture in our place.
     2.       “There must be a mindset of ‘gaurav’ and ‘samman’ towards our villages.” We all know that in most panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations the president, chairman or mayor is only an agent of the political party on whose support he or she came to power and the person takes every care to repay his or her debt to those who supported him or her for the position. In the process, he or she also enjoys the pecuniary benefits of the position. Very few have self-respect. Nor they command any respect from others except from the coteries who function as their agents.
     3.       Leadership role for the elected village representatives to alleviate poverty and promote education. Is there any true leadership in the grass-root level? Will the more powerful leaders allow the local leadership to grow? We are a centrally directed country.

    4.       The problem of school dropouts and the role panchayat can play in arresting it. I do not know how many times the panchayat presidents visit the schools under their jurisdiction. If they had been visiting, wouldn’t our school’s condition and functioning have become better?

    5.       “Think about what you can achieve in the next five years for your village. Do they really think for the village?

    6.        “Has Panchayats in our country ever thought that there should be no poor left in our country? If one village brings out five persons out of poverty in a year, what a big change will come in the country?” There is a management dictum. “If you want to eat an elephant, eat it bit by bit.” Small drops make an ocean. Why are the panchayat presidents not thinking about it?

   7.       “Special attention to be given to education of children and their vaccination.” The national campaign for washing hands well among school children was really a well thought out one, though symbolic. The need to educate the children on hygiene and cleanliness is very important.

    8.       Sarpanches should take a lead in organizing meetings of all working and retired government employees belonging to a particular village once in a while and ensuring community participation to bring about a turnaround in a village in all respects.” This is a very significant advice and observation. There are many educated and retired people and housewives who, I am sure, would be willing to volunteer their services to benefit the school children. How many government schools are willing to take their help and allocate time for them? The knowledge and skills of many retired people is many times wasted in watching television, movies, chit-chat, or simply baby-sitting (though this becomes important in some homes). Why not the panchayats or municipalities use their knowledge and skill for the benefit of the children and youth?

     9.       “The panchayats should motivate all government officials to spend at least one hour a week with the school children.” Will the government servants be interested or will the schools be willing to allow time, in the midst of various pressures for time.

    10.   “Many of these measures don’t need financial support from the government.” Very True. But, what is the reality? The only things the panchayats, municipalities and municipal corporations focus on are the ‘so-called development’, where budget and money are involved because that is where the grapevine really lies. More developmental projects, more money, more contractors and so on. Try even once, to obtain a permission to build a house, obtain electricity and water connection to your house without having to pay anything extra, over and above the government fixed charges. We all know the truth. We stay helpless. We have become notorious for electing the same corrupt people, election after election.

    11.   “We will not be able to develop our villages as long as we do not have a feeling of respect and pride towards themwe have to motivate people, provide leadership….This requires a firm resolve rather than any budgetary provision.” –We need to have self-respect and respect towards our village, our town, out state and our nation. What are we doing about this?

All the observations, advices from Mr.Modi are quite simple, but very profound. To translate them into actions, he needs the cooperation from everyone. No one is going to like him, if he decides to take the whip. We need to change our conditioning. It is really gratifying to note that Mr.Modi has made very pertinent points that should rather have been the norm than some exception.

Maybe, whatever he has observed, they are already happening in some villages. They must be exceptions than the rule. 

1 comment:

  1. If NAMO's attempt to weed out this deep rooted culture in the politics India will stand out among international community. But the admission of Finance Minister on bringing back to India huge quantum of unaccounted money in various foreign banks do not speak good of his Govt.