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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Parveen Kaur: India’s youngest college-going sarpanch

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She successfully juggled her studies and panchayat work, while still studying in college. This is the amazing story of India’s youngest sarpanch, Parveen Kaur.

Haryana’s attempts to empower women have found a bright icon in Parveen Kaur, India’s youngest sarpanch, who has transformed the face of her village over the last five years by completing many development projects.

Parveen was a 21-year-old undergraduate student at the University Institute of Engineering and Technology (UIET) in Kurukshetra when she was appointed Sarpanch of Kakrala Kuchiyan village in Haryana’s Kaithal district.

Parveen Kaur was 21 years old when she became a sarpanch while studying for her B.Tech. The jean-clad 25-year-old panchayat chief has installed CCTVs in her village for women’s safety, as well as water coolers, solar panels, and the construction of a panchayat office, a library, and a sewerage system, which has earned her praise from many, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Khattar.

“I was studying electronics and communications at UIET at the time when the government mandated a minimum educational qualification for candidates running in panchayat elections,” Parveen explains.

In the run-up to the last panchayat election, it was mandated that women candidates in the general category complete Class 8, and those in the scheduled castes complete Class 5.

As the only woman in her village who qualified to run for office, Parveen submitted to popular demand and was elected unopposed to the position.

Parveen is now a role model for young girls in her village.

She says, “I was studying to be an engineer, but fate had different ideas for me.”

Parveen has brought honour to her hamlet of Kakrala Kuchiyan, where she was born to a school bus contractor father, Mita Ram, and a mother, Sunheri Devi.

Parveen enrolled in a three-year polytechnic study after finishing Class 10 at the Kalpana Chawla Government Polytechnic for Women in Ambala.

“I took the course because I want to be an engineer. I also finished my Class 12 in 2014,” recalls Parveen, who is now pursuing web design at a private institution in Chandigarh.

“It’s a one-year programme, and I travel to Chandigarh (approximately 125 kilometres from her village) on weekends to attend classes,” says the brave woman, who has now become a role model for girls in her town.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Parveen was active in raising illness awareness among the residents and ensuring that the village remained infection-free.

In recent years, Parveen has rubbed elbows with senior BJP leaders.

She claims that it was the BJP leadership that changed the regulations to allow women like her to become sarpanches.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, she was engaged in raising awareness about the sickness among the people and distributing face masks and hand sanitizers.

She expresses comfort and pride that no one in the hamlet has yet been infected with the virus.

Parveen has yet to decide whether she will run for re-election when her term expires early next year.

But it saddens me that most women sarpanches (in the state) do not leave their homes and leave their spouses to perform the work.

Women, in my opinion, should combat patriarchy and demand their rights.

Her advice to women who want to be successful is to be strong and brave.

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