94-year-old Gangubai Nivrutti Bhambure is the new sarpanch of Pune's Bhamburwadi village. Strange and inspiring it may sound, Gangubai, however, seems unaffected by the praise she has been receiving. "I will not disappoint them. I can walk like a youngster and talk like a teacher. Nothing affects me, rain or sun. Now it’s time to work. I have to do something for my people, otherwise it’s no use becoming a sarpanch just for the sake of it,” she told The Indian Express.
Gangubai's first mission is to fight water shortage in the area. Lack of water has been affecting almost 250 farmers in seven villages. These farmers, who collectively own about 1,000 hectares of parched lands, don't grow anything in them for eight months of the year due to the unavailability of water.
Gangubai is planning to write a letter to the Prime Minister requesting him to build a pipeline to carry water to their village. She told the newspaper that she would love to meet Prime Minister Modi, if he were to come to their village. "PM Modi is like my son. My oldest son is 66 years old and I am told the PM is around the same age. I am sure he will pay heed to the voices of farmers," she added.
India has recently witnessed a major boom in the number of female representatives in village panchayats. With 33 percent of seats reserved for women, the increase in the number is a welcome move in India's heavily patriarchal rural society. Recently, Rajasthan's Chhavi Rajawat had become India’s first and youngest village sarpanch with an MBA degree. In another village, a dalit woman, Nauroti Devi, has been making news for fighting head on with alcohol and land encroachment mafia.