Sar means ‘Head’ and Panch means ‘Five’. When both words link together, it gives a whole new meaning i.e. head of the five decision makers of the village. It was all up to village people to choose the right head of the panchayat.
Earlier, it was purely male-dominated where men held primary positions as they played a vital role in taking decisions of the village. Even the people were strongly convinced that they would accept only Sarpanch but not Sarpanchni.
But nowadays, there are even examples of women being nominated to the post of Sarpanch because there is ‘reservation for females’. According to the legislative reform, the minimum quotas which are allocated for sarpanch positions are to be held by females.
At least one-third of the seats are reserved for the female contestants according to the constitutional requirement under Article 243D. Forget about the number of posts or seats but the way in which women in rural areas have been bringing sensational development in their villages, speaks a lot about their vision.
It is indeed hard to accept the fact that rural Indian women in panchayats as they were overshadowed by the majority of males. However, in the recent past years, several women defied all odds to bring about a massive change as the leader of the gram panchayats and one among them is Bhakti Sharma.
She is a female Sarpanchni from Madhya Pradesh, who left handsome paycheck jobs in the USA to strive for the society. Yes, she turned down such lucrative offers and returned from the United States in order to contest sarpanch election in Barkhedi Abdulla village which is on the outskirts of Bhopal.
In what was a proud moment, she was included in the list of top 100 most influential women in India in 2016. She did a P.G in Political Science. She had located to the US with her uncle’s family in Texas after finishing up studies. Nonetheless, Bhakti realised that she wanted to work for the society and as a result, she returned to her native village in India.
She also left high-paying jobs with hefty packages in the US just to make sure that there is proper implementation of government schemes at the right place and the hard-working 28-year-old dreams to transform Barkhedi into a decorative panchayat.