SBS Gharia Rangeen Shahjahanpur Empowered Panchayat = Progressive Village Gram Pradhan Ward Members Committees Panchayat Secretary Budgets Meetings & Resolutions Quorums
The village Gharia Rangeen with a population of about 14,000 people is on the brink of becoming a municipality but in terms of political awareness it scores much below many remote & uneducated villages. The election to Gram Sabha is fought with a vengeance as money & alcohol rules the minds of voters. Panchayat System here is Pradhan centric with no devolution of powers to any committee or sub-committee & becomes the family affair of winning group. Gram Sabha,functions in a totally undemocratic, opaque & authoritarian style . We tried to bring a change in the General functioning of our Gram Sabha and make it a democratic body in true sense. We want strong, transparent & active Gram Sabha regularly conducting its meetings, activating different committees & taking in all kind of view points. We make the ward members aware about their rights & responsibilities in the Gram Sabha
Class Vth Students have a chapter in their EVS book about the functioning of local governments in villages. What they realize that the Gram Sabha of their village was nowhere resembling to the idea of an ideal Gram Sabha as written in the book. Through their teacher they came to know that Gram Panchayat is like a parliament of the village & important decisions have to be taken collectively. They came to know about Gandhi Ji dream of Swaraj in village The village despite its large population is backward in development. Gram Sabha is a one man show with the Pradhan & his family taking all decisions. Most of the ward members themselves do not know their role in the Gram Sabha & merely exists on paper. Panchayat meetings are not held at all & there is no transparency in the Gram Sabha accounts. There is no proper monitoring of mid day meal scheme & ration shop, as the Group which wins the elections run them all. The population do not understands the importance of Gram Sabha & are happy if the member of their caste is the Pradhan.
We thought of organizing a full fledged meeting of Gram Sabha with the participation of Pradhan & all its elected & nominated members. We imagined a scenario of prayers & petitions, where villagers will submit proposals of work to be done & Gram Sabha will discuss it openly & take decisions. We propose to have committees of ward members responsible for different functions with full authority & accountability. We dream of making our Panchayat as the best & functional Panchayat of the region. Changes will be strongly resented The political class mainly representative of caste system will strongly resist any change in the established system of running the Gram Sabha as lots of money & energy has been incurred by them on elections. Opposition will politicize the situation & will try to turn our campaign against individuals. A middle path & careful approach was needed to run the campaign & success was only possible through persuasion & mobilization Local Self Government 265,000 Gram Sabha in India Decentralization Participation Governance
. 1.The students were sensitized to the basics of the campaign 2.The teams were divided with responsibility for specific tasks 3.Day wise plan of the campaign chalked out & resources required for the campaign marked out. 4.Literature on Gram Sabha-its composition,power,duties & scope was read & discussed with students. Literature on Gram Sabha collected & given to students. Charts, slogans & posters for the campaign were prepared. Scripts of the play written & rehearsed by the students. Date & timings of the meetings with stakeholders decided. List of the name & addresses of the ward members collected. Contact number of village secretary procured Sarpanch Ready Steady Go
1.Meeting with Gram Pradhan & his sons 2.Meeting with the Ward Members 3.Door to Door meeting with the common people. 4.Meeting with the members of opposite group 5.Meeting with the local police Chowki in-charge. DFC team went to Gram Pradhan & his family at their house to brief him about our intentions & to take him into confidence that our campaign is not against individuals but to strengthen the village panchayat.We tried to convey to the benefits of functional Gram Sabha as it will create a goodwill for him & also work will not get stalled due to the achieved consensus. Rapport Building
Names of ward members Inactive/neutral Ten Rajrani Name Ward Number Status Raja Ram Gupta One Active/for Guddu Yaday Two Inactive/Against Jamal Khan Three Passive/Neutral Papu Singh Four Passive/Neutral Garram Devi Five Passive/Neutral Rajesh Gupta Six Active/For Shyam Pal Seven Inactive/Neutral Prabhawati Eight Active/Against Choti Bitiya Nine Inactive/for
1.Rally,Exhibition & skits was organized to create awareness 2.Slogan writing was done in the village to announce the campaign 3Door to Door meetings conducted with the people to seek their support & participation. Rally Sensitization Awareness Mobilization After the first day spent on meeting the political class, it was realized that things will not easily fall in line we will have to establish a direct contact with the masses. A rally was organized in the village & various corner meetings were conducted to put across our point. DFC team write slogans on village walls to exhort villagers to seek their share in the Gram Sabha
Threats Rumors 1.Rattled by our direct interaction with the public, Village Pradhan sent his men to convey to us that we must confine our students to study. 2.Panchayat Secretary become untraceable as efforts to locate him failed. 3.Information sought about the committee & accounts was denied Strategies : 1.We have to seek more support from the common people. 2.We have to clarify that our campaign was not political. 3.We will intensify awareness campaign as more people on our side will increase our bargaining power. 4.We also seek support of local newspaper to create pressure on Pradhan & secretary. 5.We prepared a list of demands & petitions to be put up before general meeting of Gram Sabha. 6.We will try to file a missing report for the secretary in Police Chowki. Student Gram Sabha: DFC team decided to form a parallel Gram Sabha of students with students as Gram Pradhan & ward members & decided to mock a meeting of the Gram Sabha Missing Posters of Secretary were pasted in the village with a reward for the person who will locate him
Gandhigiri As more people joined our campaign, the Pradhan adopted a policy of avoiding us. He refused to meet us & termed our campaign as part of his opponents plan to destabilize him. He played the caste card to Stop people from joining our efforts. But we decided to do some GANDHIGIRI Mock Gram Sabha : Meeting of the Gram Sabha was enacted with students donning the role of Pradhan & ward members. Problems of the village were discussed proposals discussed & resolutions were passed. Teacher-In-charge plays the role of secretary. This was to expose before the villagers that how a Gram Sabha needs to function in realty RTI threat : The team decided to seek information about Gram Sabha of the village through RTI.Intentions were declared publicly Ward Members: They were sensitized about their powers & roles as given in Panchayat Act. Through our efforts they realized their importance & were ready to play their part SignatureCampaign We know that a petition signed by one Tenth of total voters is required to call a meeting of the Gram Sabha.We started a signature campaign in the village to legally force the Pradhan to hold a meeting of the Gram Sabha.
Results Our sustained efforts & mobilization of people in our campaign started showing results. Gandhigiri from our side resulted in breaking of ice and Pradhan decided to meet us. Threat of RTI forced the secretary to come out of the hiding. Charter of Demands 1.To hold regular meetings of the Gram Sabha as per the norms and in full quorum. 2.To hold at least two meetings of the Gram Sabha in open space with most of the villagers attending. 3.To decentralize the functioning by forming & assigning committees of ward members with different task. 4.To ensure transparency in the accounts of the Gram Sabha. 5.To ensure the speedy Development of the village without bias. Pradhan & Secretary decided to call the General meeting of the Gram Sabha on 29 th Sep11. A request was made through the temple sound system for all villagers to attend it. It will be held in the grounds of Govt School. petitions from the villagers to be collected will be openly discussed. Five committees of Ward members with specific responsibilities like Sanitation, School & Mid day meal. Secretary will present the statement of expenditure incurred during the year. Proposals from ward Sabhas will be discussed on priority basis
In the midst of the campaign, we got a bit into the tangle as the Village Head Man misunderstood our campaign as an offensive against him. First he tries to coerce us, than he became passive thinking we will fade with time. But our sustained efforts helped us in getting the community on our side. With people support and training of ward members, we embark on Gandhigiri forcing the stakeholder to respond. The biggest help came from our extensive sensitization of the public with the powers, functioning & composition of Gram Sabha. The decision to file an RTI,signature campaign of the voters to legally call the Gram Sabha meeting & mocking of the Gram Sabha proceedings helped us in melting the ice. The biggest change that has occurred is that the common man perception of Gram Sabha has totally changed and now it is not a single family fiefdom but a turf where every villager has the right to participate. Our campaign has shaken the long established norms & the changes needs to be Sustained & nourished.