SONU KUMARI’S family was elated as she was elected the sarpanch of Bhalki village in Mahendragarh district. The congratulatory messages are still pouring in and she is determined to ensure development of the village.
In a district that is known to be among the worst when it comes to sex ratio, Sonu Kumari defies stereotypes. Sonu belongs to a Scheduled Caste. While the minimum qualification for SC women candidates is Class V, she has done her postgraduation.
The results of the first phase of the Haryana panchayat elections show that nearly 67 per cent of the newly elected sarpanches have passed Class 10th. The results show out of 2,499 sarpanches elected, 1,490 have passed class 10, 409 have passed Class 8, 346 have passed Class 12 and 253 are graduates or postgraduates. There is just one candidate who has studied till Class V. The polling percentage was 85 per cent.
Sonu (28) says, “I am the first in my family to have been elected as sarpanch. The entire family is brimming with pride. I will see the problems being faced in the village and focus on development. Better roads, improved education facilities are on the agenda. Development was taking place in the villages even when the sarpanches were illiterate. With educated sarpanches the understanding of problems will increase.”
The Haryana government had for the first time imposed a condition of minimum qualification for the aspirants to the post of sarpanch and panch. For the general category, Class X was the minimum qualification. For women and SC candidates, the minimum qualification is Class VIII, while in the case of SC women, the minimum qualification required is Class V.
As per election commission data, among the outgoing sarpanches, 15.8 per cent were illiterate and 35 per cent were below matriculate. A total of 28.8 per cent had completed matric, 10.9 per cent had completed Class XII and seven per cent were graduates.
While the picture this time will be clearer after the polling in three phases concludes, in the first phase there is a marked improvement in the educational qualifications of the sarpanches elected.
In Mewat, considered to be among the backward districts on the education front, of the 65 sarpanches elected 13 have passed Class VIII, 30 have passed Class X, XI passed Class XII and Class VII are graduate or above.
Sweety (31), who was elected sarpanch of Ladhuwas Ahir in Rewari district from a seat reserved for SC woman candidate, has done her MBA in hospitality management after pursuing B.Pharm. Before the criteria for education was enforced, there were eight candidates in the village. Thereafter, there were just two in the fray.
“I am the first in my family to be elected as sarpanch. My husband motivated me to contest. I had prepared for IAS and HCS. That did not happen. I want to improve sanitation facilities in the village. There should be better education facilities,” she says.
The most number of candidates having pursued graduation or above were elected in Ambala where 19 such candidates are present out of 128 elected. The only sarpanch elected who is Class V pass is in Yamunanagar district.
Haryana Development and Panchayat Minister O P Dhankar said training would be organised for sarpanches and panches after the elections. “Around 60 per cent candidates in the first phase were elected unanimously. The new criteria has ensured that educated candidates are elected. We will train them about the duties of panchayats, tell them about the focus areas and the technology to be used for improving their skills. Educated panchayats would ensure that the vision of the government of having adarsh villages is achieved,” said Dhankar.