The biggest challenge before newly elected gram panchayat member Surekha Patil is the lack of information about her role in the system. “The gram sevak and the older members of the gram panchayat are not quite helpful, and I am left to my own devices to find my way through the system,” she said. Patil’s learning curve was mostly through her experiences, rather than a structured learning system.
To address the issue, the Yashwantrao Chavan Academy of Development Administration (YASHADA), has initiated a training programme for elected women representatives (EWRs) of the gram panchayats in the state, and it is likely to begin by the end of next month.
The training, Krantijyoti, will be imparted to more than 40, 000 EWRs, who otherwise do not have an opportunity to undergo a structured training programme on their role in the panchayat raj system.
Although Maharashtra has been one of the first states to give representation to women in the panchayat raj institutions, no efforts were being taken to train the members. Only sarpanchs and deputy sarpanchs were taught the rudiments of governing.
In want of training, EWRs had complained about non clarity of the roles and their failure to take part in the work of village development.
The training programme has been developed by Yashda, the state election commission, and other related departments of the state government.
Jayashree Tadelkar, officer in-charge of Women Empowerment Cell, said the training, which has been designed to be interactive, would go a long way in training the women representatives. Apart from giving details of what is expected of the EWRs, Tadelkar said the three-day module will also help them know the decision-making process.
An important parameter in the training process is the list of do’s and don’ts for the EWRs. A YASHDA official said this was done as cases of defalcation by gramsevaks by misusing the signatures or thumb impressions of EWRs were reported from various parts of the state.
“The list has questions like ‘the fund for village development is to be credited to the personal account of the gram sevak’ and ‘mahila gramsabha has to be called a day before the main gram sabha’. The participants have to mark them as correct or incorrect,” Tadelkar said.
In the first batch, more than 200 members will be trained, who in turn will train the EWRs at taluka levels.