By Rohit Gupta:
Under the GDP growth rate and the IT revolution hysteria, Indian growth story is the centre of attraction for the media and quite closely tracked. But, there is a parallel Universe existing in our country. The one which is not well-developed, which still lack basic amenities, which we urbanites have taken for granted. This is our rural Bharat, which is still home to a majority of Indian population and is indeed the backbone of our Agrarian economy.
Village Panchayat is an important local decision- making body, and beautifully signifies the close-knit culture of our rural setting. The Indian Government had introduced 33 percent reservation for Women in this local decision-making body. 80,000 have been elected as the assigned chairperson of their local Panchayats, and this was a step in the right direction for a patriarchal society like ours towards Women Empowerment. But, the ground realities are quite different. The elected Women representatives are mostly relegated to a pawn status, and the actual decision making power is still confined among the male majority.
The male dominance in governance in India is a history in itself, and it is just a matter of time when merit takes precedence, and the inherent biases diminish. In the case of Panchayats though, it makes sense to have as many women as possible on board, because they are generally aware of the problems faced by the community in a better way and usually have to bear the brunt of the missing amenities directly. The priorities for change could be different, and it is always good to have differing perspectives on board.
Gram Panchayat needs women who show promise, have the will-power and can rely on their own convictions. They need to be the catalysts of change and would have to transform their role from mere passive recipients to active ingredients in the micro-politics at the village level. Change is needed at the rural front, and it is a great opportunity to empower the fairer sex at the rural scene, through which India will probably witness the next growth story.