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News: Recently, The SC of India has stated that the onus handling issue pertaining the infamous practice of Sarpanch Pati where men wield power behind elected women in grassroots politics needs to be addressed by the political class and not judiciary.
What is Sarpanch Pati?
• Sarpanch Pati is a term used to describe the phenomenon of men who exercise power and authority in local selfgovernance bodies by making their wives contest from constituencies reserved for women under the Constitution 73rd Amendment Act. This act guarantees 33% reservation for women to promote their political participation in Panchayati Raj Institutions.
• In April 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about ending the Sarpanch Pati culture and urged women sarpanchs to assert their rights and responsibilities. He also praised the contribution of women to the functioning of panchayats and said that they had shown more honesty and concern for development than men.
• In March 2021, a man named Rajesh took oath as the sarpanch of Hanukhedi village in Shajapur district of Madhya Pradesh in place of his wife Sunita, who was elected from a seat reserved for women. The secretary who administered the oath was suspended and the process to act against the husband was initiated.
What are the causative factors for this phenomenon?
Poor social status of women
Patriarchal mindset and dominance of men
Lack of awareness, capacity building and training for women
Absence of strong deterrence laws to punish men
Absence of recognition of women and their contributions
Impact of this phenomenon:
• Undermining of women’s rights and empowerment
• Violation of the spirit and purpose of the constitutional amendment
• Deprivation of women’s voice and representation in decision-making
• Loss of accountability and transparency in governance
• Hindrance to the development and welfare of the community