Jyoti Rani, 36, from Rori village in Sirsa district, has panchayat samiti member Nitasha Sihag to thank for taking the corrupt ration depot owner in her village to task. She says the depot owner would make excuses to deny them ration. On Women’s Day (March 8), during Sihag’s visit to Rori to deliver a lecture, Rani got her WhatsApp number. She then contacted Sihag, who forwarded her complaint to the district food and civil supply controller and a probe was ordered, leading to the officers being questioned. Rani started getting ration supply within two weeks.
Sihag, 32, is an elected member of the Panchayat Samiti at Khari Surera village in Sirsa district of Haryana (the Samiti is a buffer between Gram Panchayat and Zilla Panchayat). With an MBA from Meerut University and a couple of corporate stints under her belt, Sihag is tech savvy and connects with the people of her constituency via social media.
Sirsa panchayat samiti member Nitasha Sihag is leveraging WhatsApp and Facebook to inform rural women about government schemes
“Women are conditioned to keep quiet about the problems they face. Domestic violence tops the chart of crimes against women in this westernmost district of my state” — Nitasha Sihag
Realising how important it is for her to be reachable, the young politician makes sure to share her WhatsApp number whenever she goes to a public meeting or social gathering. “While the internet might not have last-mile connectivity in my village, and the very poor might not be using it, people around them must be connected and these people can pass on the relevant information to them,” she said.
College student Ritu Kumari got her number from one such meeting and reached out to Sihag on Facebook. Having done a course in mehendi designing, she wanted to take advantage of the central government’s Skill India initiative. She contacted Sihag in this regard who helped her connect to a Skill India centre in Ellenabad tehsil in the district.
Other college students have been reaching out to her for help on matters like drinking water supply, LPG supply, ration, roads, benefits for the girl child, power cuts, health and education facilities.
The mother of two boys has previously worked in the private sector with brands such as Reliance and BPCL (Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd). As rewarding as life in private sector may be, she said her job as a politician has been the more satisfying one.