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Panchayat president at 88, this ‘ajji’ from Karnataka shows the way


Express News Service

CHITRADURGA: At 5 am every day, this 88-year-old president of Chikka Yammiganuru gram panchayat sets out to inspect the works in the village, listens to people’s problems, and then visits her arecanut grove.

Fondly called ‘Ajji’ (grandma in Kannada), her main aim is to provide quality drinking water to Chikka Yammiganuru, Chikkanakatte, Kodagavalli, Kodagavalli Hattti, Kotehalu, Hosahalli and Aynahalli villages having a population of 7,500.

She also gives importance to education, health, sanitation and lighting in these villages. Age is just a number for her. Drakshayanamma said, ‘I am not aged. I have seen life … will draw on my experiences to take the village on the path of development.”

She doesn’t need top posts to do service, say villagers

“My aim is to protect the modesty of the women by providing toilets to everyone in the village,” Drakshayanamma added. “Another key issue haunting the rural areas is education. Impetus should be given for this and MGNREGA should be implemented effectively for the development of the villages in Chikka Yammiganuru GP,” she said.

She knows the importance of education – for, she passed only lower secondary (7 standard) in the 1940s, after which she got married. She has six children – three sons and three daughters.  While one son, B S Shivamurthy has retired as a regional manager of Karnataka Grameena Bank, B S Veerabhadrappa is an engineer at BEML Bengaluru and B S Shivamurthy is an advocate in Chitradurga district court. Her daughters are homemakers.

She doesn’t need top posts to do service, villagers say. In 2016, when the village was reeling under a water crisis, she took the initiative and got a borewell drilled in her field. She got a pipeline laid in the entire village at her own cost and supplied the water regularly. This gritty woman lives alone — her children stay in different towns.  She cooks for the labourers regularly and then visits her farm. Till recently, she herself used to work on her farm. But now age doesn’t permit her to do hard work.

Arunkumar, her grandson, said, “My grandmother is strong enough to rule the gram panchayat, and she alone takes care of our arecanut fields and lands in the village at this age.” She is healthy and her eyesight is sharp – she doesn’t need glasses to read newspapers or documents, he said.

Asked about his granny using mobile phones, he said that she has a basic handset and knows to receive and answer calls. Drakshayanamaa is not a rubber stamp – thumb impression—president, in more ways than one. She knows how to sign her name in English.



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