Ask Suhangana Paradhan her occupation and she proudly says that she is a sarpanch and a farmer. She wears both hats with pride and is the first female sarpanch of Pimpalgaon village in Maharashtra at 28 years. Growing up in her village she knew the problems that the common man had to face. She also realised that people in authority were doing nothing to make a difference.
Problems of unclean drinking water and erratic power supply haunted every household. Yet, nobody wanted to take responsibility, least of all the people in power. Suhagana’s mother who used to work with self-help groups (SHG) inspired this young woman to take a stand. In Suhagana’s words, she stood for elections because she got tired of seeing ‘people treating the panchayat as their jaagir ’.
She made a small start by helping people fill in forms whenever there was paperwork required. But things did not really improve because of government apathy. The grounded and down-to-earth Suhagana took the bold step of standing for elections in the face of severe public opposition. Her father and husband supported her through the entire process. With each development goal achieved, she is slowly and gradually winning appreciation.
In a village with no place for a gram panchayat or a head clerk, development is an uphill task. However, Suhagana has ably invested in improving land conditions, adequate water supplies, clean drinking water solutions, cemented roads, cleanliness and better power supply.
Like the rest of India, women safety is a serious issue in Suhagana’s village, too. She realises that this needs to be remedied so that more women can come forward and take positions of responsibility. Suhagana feels more confident with every victory and her detractors are being converted every day. She believes that everyone should work together for a better future and is using every opportunity to garner public support and help people.
Suhagana has come a long way by respecting other people's suggestions. But this out-of-the-box thinker uses her positive thinking to find new ways to reach her goals. She sees the cell phone as an important communication tool which she is yet to learn a lot about. The computer in her office, she believes, will open up a whole new world of knowledge and opportunities.
Suhagana admittedly doesn’t have much knowledge about technology but excitedly says that she will ‘will try everything to help’ with her job. With an optimistic outlook, passion and conviction, brave ‘farmer’ Suhagana looks all set to sow the seeds for a better tomorrow.