“It is like a dream come true,” said a jubilant Jabna Chauhan, who is in Gandhinagar in Gujarat for receiving the Mahila Puraskar by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi for her anti-alcohol campaign and cleanliness drive on International Women’s Day.
For Jabna, the youngest Panchayat Pradhan in Himachal Pradesh, the recognition for her campaign against booze and tobacco products, that is now fast spreading to other Panchayats of Mandi district, is a big achievement.
“It seems to fulfil my pledge to do something for society. It was a challenge for me to do something meaningful in life when my parents did not send me to college due to poor financial condition,” she said, as she is prepared to continue with her studies at her own expense.
Born in the Keolidhar village of Chachyot block in Mandi district to a poor family, Jabna even helped her younger sister in completing her graduation by working as a journalist with a local news channel.
It was during her stint as journalist that Jabna decided to enter politics. “I noticed the menace of alcohol abuse in my area. I saw most of the people in my area drinking during the day and then
misbehaving with others. Besides, the alcoholism has also cost some men their lives as they died while being over drunk,” she said.
After this, she decided to contest Panchayat elections in 2015 with a ‘poll promise’ to ban liquor in the area. “After winning elections, I started a campaign to aware locals about the ill effects of alcohol and tobacco products. For this, I contacted all 5 Mahila Mandal groups in my panchayat and formed a group of locals,” she said.
Taking the villagers along with her agenda, Jabna led a delegation from Tharjoon panchayat to submit a memorandum to the then Deputy Commissioner for closing liquor vend in the area. “The liquor shop would be closed on 31 March,” she quipped.
She even convinced the Tharjoon panchayat members to pass a resolution to ban alcohol and tobacco products. But her efforts didn’t end here.
After this, Jabna took the battle against alcohol and tobacco to adjoining Panchayats of Cheuni, Lambathatch, Baga Chinogi and Sharan and convinced them ban liquor and tobacco products.
Not only this, the gram sabhas of all these Panchayats have banned the use of liquor during marriages and have decided to impose a fine of Rs.20,000 on those who would violate the rule.
Jabna has already won the award of Best Pradhan at district level and her panchayat stood first in Mandi district in terms of cleanliness. Her efforts have already been recognised by the Himachal Pradesh government
It is worthwhile to mention that the Gujarat Women and Child Development Department facilitates the outstanding contribution in empowering women, Institutions and Individuals by ‘Mahila Puraskar’ every year.