The Village Sarpanch

The Village Sarpanch

The villages in India have a head-man called Sarpanch. Inderpal was the Sarpanch of a village. He had become very old and was failing health. So, he told the village elders that he wanted to retire from the post of Sarpanch. A couple of names were suggested. They zeroed down on the names of two men, Karam and Mahipal. Both of them were considered to be capable young men. Having discussed the pros and cons of having either of the two as Sarpanch, the elders were unable to make a final selection. The old Sarpanch decided to put both of them to test.

The village was about a mile away on either side from two different highways. The Sarpanch gave both Karam and Mahipal an equal amount of money from the village funds and asked each of them to get Kuchha roads made to connect the village to the highway on either side.

Karam set to work the very next day. He employed a contractor who came with a large team of labourers. They cleared the track of bushes and trees and beat down the mud to settle it. The track cut through the play ground where some boys played Kabaddi. The funds were not enough for making a proper road. In a couple of days the contractor reported to Karam that the road was ready.

Mahipal on the other hand, recruited only a few labourers. He also got together all the young boys in the village and asked them to lend a hand in clearing the path to make a road for ‘our village’. Half way through they came across an old Banyan tree. Mahipal said, “We shall not cut it, we shall divert the path a little to go by its side.” All the young men helped to level out the land. They even erected small banks of mud on either side. When the road was ready, Mahipal still had some money left over. He bought a hundred saplings of mulberry. Together the boys planted them on either side of the road. The small amount that was left over, Mahipal used to buy some sweets and distributed them amongst his spirited team of youngsters.

The completion of work was reported to the old Sarpanch. The Sarpanch went to see both the roads. He was impressed by the perfection with which Karam had done the job. It looked quite professional and meticulously done. The Sarpanch was happy.

Later he went to see the other road. He was greeted by a whole group of youngsters, eager to see the reaction of the Sarpanch. They showed him the saplings that they had planted. The Sarpanch was especially touched by the gesture of side tracking the old Banyan tree and not axing it.

He named Mahipal as the new Sarpanch saying, “The most essential quality of a leader is not perfection. It is his dedication, credibility and his ability to create a team. Mahipal has been able to win the trust of all these youngsters that is why they have followed him. He has been honest to the cause and has shed sweat to involve people and make a team. A leader is never a leader alone, he is a leader of people and that because he and his word are worthy of trust. Moreover, only one who serves is fit to become a leader.”