Sunday, April 18, 2010

REVIEW: Sarpanch Sahib

Sarpanch Sahib: Changing The Face Of India
Edited by Manjima Bhattacharjya
Rs 175
Pp 152
ISBN: 817223905X

The book talks about seven gutsy women in seven far flung villages of India: Deepanjali, the adivasi graduate sarpanch treading new waters in Kalahandi; Chinapappa, the non-literate panchayat president in Tamil Nadu making education accessible to children; Sunita, struggling against a corrupt system in Madhya Pradesh; Maya, comingg to terms with sudden electoral defeat in the hills of Uttarakhand; Maloti, finding innovative ways of governing her constituencies in tea estate in Assam; Veena Devi, young widow and seasoned politician, navigating the criminalized politics in Bihar; and Kenchamma, the first Dalit woman president of Tarikere panchayat in Karnataka

A silent revolution Deccan Herald

What do Deepanjali from Kalahandi, Chinapappa from Pachinakapalli, Sunita Adivasi from Tighra, Maya Bhakhuni from Boonga, Maloti Gowalla from Chamong, Veena Devi from Nawada, Kenchamma from Tarikere — separated from each other by thousands of kilometers — have in common? Possibly even unaware of each other’s existence, these women are nevertheless bonded by the revolution that swept through rural India in the guise of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment.

At a time when there is an animated debate on the 33 percent reservation for women in the lower house of the Indian Parliament, this book could not have been timelier. Even as arguments against reservations are eloquently voiced, and even while conceding that the bill in its current forms need major surgery, there is no doubt that women’s reservation will play a positive role. And Sarpanch Sahib proves well the empowerment that reservations can and have conferred on large sections of society — the critical mass.

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