Under the ancient panchayat system, Indian villages have long elected elders – usually men – to govern local affairs. There are about 240,000 elected panchayats in India. A Mukhiya, a Panchayat official is the close to the people and know their specific needs and demands. People take him/her seriously. To encourage gender equity, up to 50% of seats in panchayats are now reserved for women.
India initiated the massive cash-to-the-poor program. It aims to deposit $38 billion per year in the back accounts of some 90 million Indian households for an array of welfare programs and subsidies.Getting direct cash deposits is much more convenient and less prone to corruption than the current model of receiving welfare payments. Locals often don’t get their full benefits since middlemen take a cut of the money before it reaches them. Many new programs such as this are not intuitively understandable. Therefore the Govt aims to utilize the Panchayat system to sign people into the program.
An efficient Mukhiya, Mrs Munda says that she has been successful on this project because she gives time and importance to every person. Mrs Munda is a need breed of Panchayat officials. Married and with two children, a psychology graduate from a local college, she initially worked as a rural health worker. That exposed her to families working as day laborers and educated her about irregularities in the system.. Her husband was skeptical when she decided to run for a Panchayat leader position. The family lacked political background. But she wife wanted to fight corruption in government programs.
Women village heads are found to be more effective than their male counterparts. People, being fed up with false promises of male politicians in the past, want to elect more women. But many women village heads become just figureheads, with their un-elected husbands actually calling the shots behind the scenes. As India enters its phase of social programs, hopefully there are more women like Mrs Munda on the ground. Hopefully they will keep the widespread corruption in higher levels Govt services from entering into the age old and successful Panchayat system of Governance.