Even cooks can one day be panchayat head
KALAIVANI works as a cook in a school. But this is not her only job. The middleaged woman also doubles up as the Panchayat President of her Keezhkuppam village in the backward Dharmapuri district.
Riding a trendy two- wheeler on the bumpy roads, she sets out to do her work as panchayati president. Kalaivani has overcome many a hurdle to rise to this level. Poverty forced her to be a second wife when she was barely 18 years old.
“ Being black in colour, I was insulted and deserted by my husband, when I was four months pregnant,” the spunky president recalls. After a brief stint as a tailor at the hosiery town of Tiruppur, she returned to her native village and life continued to be a struggle as ever.
However, she won hands down in the panchayat election as an independent candidate, trouncing male opponents, who flaunted money and muscle power. To her shock, she found that most of the women panchayat presidents in the district were represented by their husbands even at official meetings.
When the school authorities entertained doubts as to whether she could remain a cook, the cool headed Kalaivani made it clear that she would not mix her new role with her job saying, “ I am president only for my village but a cook for my school”.