In the idyllic Tabo village in the Himalaya, the rules are very clear: you cannot drink, cannot gamble and to become a pradhan you must pass at least Class 10
Sixty-seven years after the Constitution of India came into force, the keepers of Indian republic have not defined the minimum qualification as eligibility to become a lawmaker, unlike in neigbhouring ‘under-developed’ Bhutan, where no one can contest in elections unless s/he is a graduate. Any illeterate can
become a Union or state minister in
Even prime minister or a chief minister. Without any honour for basic education, they then demand to be addressed as ‘Honourable’, and without understanding law, they become law unto themselves.
But right here in this country, there is a village where none can contest for the post of sarpanch, or village head, without having cleared a minimum educational qualification
Not just that. Our legislators get
lakhs of rupees per month in salaries and perks, and yet they hardly attend the Parliament or the assembly sessions, as the case may be. But in this Himalayan
village, attendance at the village decision-making body is compulsory for everyone.
Some 400 kilometres from Shimla, capital city of the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, the idyllic village Tabo sits pretty on a hilltop in Lahaul-Spiti at an altitude of 10,760 feet above mean sea level.
Permanently under snow round the year, the panchayat warms the hearts of people desiring to see a functional democracy, at any level. It is the path breaking story of a village where the panchayat has set rules for itself, including that mirage at the national political level: a minimum qualification.
To be elected as a pradhan, one must have at least cleared Class 10 of the state education board.
Besides, the moment one is elected as a pradhan all his or her relatives are debarred from procuring government contracts. If someone is already a contractor, he or she has to give up the lucrative work if his or her relative becomes a pradhan.
All villagers must mandatorily attend panchayat meetings. If anyone attends more meetings than the minimum number mandated, he or she is rewarded.
Naturally, there is a rush of attendees at the meetings, which is just the opposite of what we see in the hallowed Parliament.
Bans and Fines
Tabo has completely banned alcohol and gambling, which are two addictions that mark the menfolk in most hilly areas and which leads to a whole lot of children losing their fathers at very tender ages. Anyone found under the influence of alcohol in this village of 1,200 people, is levied a stiff fine of Rs 10,000. Likewise for gamblers.
There are also rules regarding environment protection as well as public hygiene and sanitation. Felling trees is strictly banned.
The villagers are supposed to take an oath to protect the environment and maintain health and hygiene at the local monastery. Education is a must for all villagers. There is a government school in the village as well as a private one run by the local monastery.
Says panchayat pradhan Dechen Angmo: “Due to the rules set for the villagers, we are 100 per cent literate, and we live a life of blissful peace.
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