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You have to be the change you want to see: Chitralekha Patil

Thursday, April 12, 2018

She holds several titles and is actively involved in the causes of education, women's empowerment, child rights and a whole lot more. Chitralekha Patil, President of Raigad District Women Cell, interacts with ADC's Shaiber Raichur on her journey so far.

You have indulged in several social causes as well as other activities. How would you describe your journey?
This is not my only journey, there are many people who work with me and support me so it's about teamwork. I feel blessed to have people and a team like this. Support from our M L C Jayant Patil (bhai) and his vision has constantly been a guiding source for us.  Whenever we start any work he leaves it up to us to do it in a style we are comfortable with because he thinks that the youth should be allowed to do things as per their understanding.

For example, we have inaugurated a school at Nagaon, Alibaug, recently which is a rural English medium CBSE school. So he has only one vision that he wants to make Mumbai-like schools in rural areas as well, so that the kids there get access to quality education which will help them to build their future. Our initiative of wanting to develop schools in areas where children can derive education at subsidised prices was very challenging as we tried to bring teachers and add other facilities, but we tried our level best to ensure that these young children can make the best out of opportunities provided to them.

From being a BMM student to a youth leader of a well-known political party Shetkari Kaamgar Paksha, you have come a long way. Your thoughts?
Studying BMM (Bachelors of Mass Media) has helped me a lot in terms of building a perspective. More than that, Wilson college, where I did my college, helped me a lot because my professor Sudhakar not only taught us what was in the books but while we were studying we had the privilege to listen to and interact with industry experts and people from various walks of life. Developing a holistic view of education has helped me a lot.

According to you, education is the only weapon to conquer the world. How?
I totally stand by it as education is the only weapon because I believe that human beings from any part of the world, village, city or community, their empowerment should be in such a way that they are able to stand on their own feet. It's not that our system is bad, merely the execution is poor. In other countries, the children are taught ethics and values from the time they are sent to school and in India, these things are lacking because we try to compromise and adjust to it, rather than embedding it in our culture and system. There is a need to bridge the gap between urban and rural areas and we are trying to reduce (the gap) by providing the best education in these (deprived) areas.

How difficult was it for you to encourage thousands of young girls and women from rural areas to pursue education?
Definitely, it is not an easy task. I always follow (Mahatma) Gandhiji's sayings: 'If you want to bring any change then be the change you want to see'.  Bhai's vision was to bring the women living in rural areas into unconventional professions. So one day he gave me a challenge and asked me to drive heavyweight motor vehicles. Behind this too, there was logic and upon seeing me driving, other women too will start aping me. This will automatically inspire a change. Our organisation sponsored this initiative where 15 women were ready to drive heavy vehicles.

Getting admission into a school or college is easy, but continuing is hard. Most importantly, we should get acceptance into all kinds of professions and what is more difficult is while doing this how can we balance our home and family. Women getting educated is important but more important is how can the women become financially independent.

Your views on the party (Shetkari Kaamgar Paksha), with whom you have long been involved with.
Shetkari Kaamgar Paksha is working for the people since the time it has been established. The party is known for its strong views and having a clear vision. Maharashtra will witness our wonderful work in the days to come.

Being a youth leader, what changes would you want to see in politics?
Politics is a very dirty game. While trying to move ahead and make the country free of religious issues, the BJP and RSS forces made a comeback on religious grounds, which is very dangerous for our democracy. If you hear Amit Shah's statement (calling the oppositions cats and dogs), it is unacceptable. There has to be a grace in politics and it cannot get personal and dirty. You have to respect the opposition and cannot call them cats and dogs as they are also representatives. The youth should understand what is right and wrong as the BJP promised a lot but people are angry as hardly anything has been done, besides marketing has been paid attention to. If this 'marketing' money was given to the farmers then the long march would not have been required.

It is seen that politicians and government officials are hardly even qualified, but still end up in higher positions.
I will not judge anyone by their education as everybody has a different story, maybe some didn't get opportunities to study but the experience they have in that particular field helps. What I feel is instead of blaming anybody, that he doesn't know this or that let's be the change. Because if educated people like us don't do it then the uneducated people take the advantage of it and grab the positions. Why is the government paying those who are not working?

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