After years of grassroots work in a Karnataka district, Anjana Devi, a French-origin Indian woman, was unanimously appointed as the President of Anegondi Grama Panchayat in Gangavati taluka of Koppala district. The daughter of late former French national Francois and an Indian, Shanthamurthy, Anjana, who won from Ward No. 2 (Anegundi), was elected by the 14 member office bearers of the Village Panchayat.
According to Anjana Devi, 42, her mother, Francois, was a French citizen who came to India for spiritual rejuvenation in 1965. "Having traveled to different holy places, on one such journey she met my father Shanthamurthy and after a brief courtship, they settled at Anegundi in Koppal. It was here that my mother took up the name 'Sharada.' In 1984, Murthy passed away, but Sharada continued to be a well-respected woman in Anegundi, despite her foreign origin, local people accepted her as their own," Anjana says.
Sharada was very much insistent and supportive of her daughter's education, however, she wanted to ensure that Anjana learnt about the local culture, languages and connected with the local people. Subsequently, she enrolled Anjana to join Government Kannada Primary School instead of an English medium. "Nevertheless, language was never a barrier, I am a Kannadiga by birth and that is my mother-tongue, besides I speak Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and English,” Anjana says. Subsequently, she finished her BA in History, Sociology and Political Science at Gangavathi College. Her father died when she was 10 years old, and her mother passed away in 2009.
Anjana soon secured a job at an NGO 'Fourth Wave Foundation,' as a catalyst for their program Nanagu Shale in Koppal. "My work required me to visit houses of children who are differently-abled and motivate their parents to educate them and get them to the mainstream. Such fieldwork gave me a lot of exposure on how the local government bodies function," she says. Anjana also participated in various development activity of the village as well.
Anjana's enthusiasm for the overall development was recognised by the village and she was elected as a Gram Panchayat member in 2015. "She was very efficient in her job, she was accessible by people. It comes as no surprise that her work got its due credit and she was appointed as the President of Gram Panchayat in the recent elections, that too unanimously," Ramesh S, a local resident says.
However, being in India, she says she has not missed out on her French connection. "I was in touch with my grandmother (mother’s mother) and have visited France to see her. Even after my mother passed away in 2009, I am in touch with her siblings and they have visited India. Like me, even they are smitten by India’s beauty and appreciate the work I do here," she says.
While being elated on her new role, Anajana admits that it is a huge responsibility. She adds that an exponential change can be brought about in the country if one focuses on the grassroots level. "This is the main reason, I have decided to dedicate my life serving the people of Angegundi and concentrate on development in the villages of Koppal. During my tenure, I want to ensure that the focus is on overall development of the village especially on areas such as sanitation and women empowerment,” she says. As a GP, Anjana jurisdiction covers villages in Anegundi, Kadebagilu, Chikkarampur and Basavanadurga.
Story by www.storyinfinity.com (Subs and Scribes Media Ventures LLP).