Raipur, Sep 2: Setting a sterling example, Chhattisgarh's youngest sarpanch Ritu Pandram is busy "transforming" lives by taking up developmental causes of the tribals as well as imparting free education to the needy.
The 24-year-old head of Saarbahara village panchayat in Gourela development block imparts free education to students and is also working hard to tackle several other issues in her village like water scarcity and sanitation.
"If villagers have better access to water, electricity, sanitation and education, it would transform their lives and brighten their future," she said.
Located about 225 km from state capital Raipur, tribal-dominated Saarbahara village has a population of about 9,000. Ritu, who pursued her post graduation in biotechnology from Guru Ghasidas Central University of Bilaspur, aspires to crack the civil services examination.
However, this has not held her back from contesting the panchayat election in early 2015 from her native Saarbahara village. She was elected as the youngest sarpanch in the state and continued her studies after the polls.
"My friends used to call me 'neta ji' in college just to pull my leg, but I had never imagined that I would ever contest an election as it was not my cup of tea. Now my villagers say I was the most suited candidate for the post," the young woman said.
Her agriculturist father Udai Singh Pandram, despite his meager income, educated Ritu and her two other siblings. Ever since she assumed the office, Ritu got engaged into the task of development and bringing better sanitation and roads in the village.
Simultaneously, she also started her mission of imparting free education to children at her house. She decided to teach them basic Mathematics and Science.
"We have a government school upto class XII in the village and even a semi-government model school. But these students need extra attention to understand the basics," she pointed out while talking about her endeavour.
It was started with 12-13 children, upto class VIII, last year and now nearly 30 kids attend her classes. Ritu later shifted the classes to nearby 'aanganwadi' centre as it was spacious.