Dabadi gram panchayat in Petlawad development block is about 55 km from Jhabua district headquarters. This eight village panchayats has elected Gita Mangu, resident of Ummedpura village. Illiterate Gita defeated her nearest rival and others by 266 votes in 2005 panchayat elections. Unaware of her victory, Gita had never thought in her dreams that she would ever become sarpanch as she was motivated by her husband Mangu Garwal to put her signature on nomination papers. She was helped by the active members of self help groups, who launched electoral campaign for her.
Mother of three children, Gita did not take any interest in panchayat work even after she became sarpanch. Under these circumstances, panchayat related works were being done by her husband and panchayat secretary. For several months she was unaware as to what works were being done in the panchayat, how much money was being allocated to different projects, how the money was being spent, etc. She used to spend most of her day in household related works and agricultural works and her husband used to take her to gram sabha and panchayat meetings. And from here process of change in Gita started.
During gram sabha and other meetings, villagers and officials used to question her, but because of her lack of knowledge she was unable to give answer to any question. Since such situations arose repeatedly, she gradually started collecting information from her husband, panchayat secretary and organisation’s workers about panchayat works, schemes, education, etc. She also started taking part in meetings of gram sabha where issue of economic development through small savings came forth. These meetings took initiative for school building construction, irregularity of teachers and associating children deprived of education with the school. Responsibility of school building construction was handed over to Gita, who later said that she had herself initiated the process of getting resolution passed from Gram Sabha for school building construction. It was a good feeling for her.
Always carefully speaking, Gita and other villagers took initiative to improve quality of education and were successful in associating educationally deprived children with education and appointment of an extra teacher was also made to the school. Increasing her activity in panchayats, she has started ensuring her regular participation in gram sabha meetings. She was present in all the eight meetings of gram sabha organised in the year 2005-06. Keeping in mind proper implementation of government schemes at the village level, Gita also mends her mistakes for removing difficulties coming in the way of implementation of NREGS.
Gita said she was always motivated to remove her shortcomings in the first year of her tenure. During the first year of her tenure, she got road built from Havarunda-Dabdi to Rooparel via Kachnaria under NREGS. Pond deepening and construction have taken place at Dabadi and Sapolia villages to tide over water shortage. She also got contour trenches dug up for soil and water conservation. She said earlier she was afraid of talking to strangers, but now she has courage to work at the district panchayat and panchayat meeting.
By participating in village level meetings, workshops and rallies, Gita is trying hard to come to the terms of her new responsibility. But according to village community, much more changes are needed so she can become a good sarpanch as even today, role of sarpanch husband is visible.