They say that you're only as old as you feel, and 94-year-old Gangubai Nivrutti Bhambure, who was recently elected as the head of a village (sarpanch) in Pune, fits that adage perfectly.
The Indian Express reported today that her immediate priorities are getting water from a nearby canal by constructing a pipeline, developing a proper drainage system, building good roads, and ensuring that there are enough toilets.
"I will not disappoint them... I can walk like a youngster and talk like a teacher," Gangubai told the newspaper, while inspecting the village in the afternoon on Wednesday. "Nothing affects me, rain or sun."
"Now it's time to work. I have to do something for my people, otherwise it's no use becoming a sarpanch just for the sake of it," she said.
While village panchayats in India have traditionally been male-dominated, the law requires that 33 percent of its representatives are women, and this quota could soon be raised to 50 percent. In recent years, however, women have made huge inroads into these local decision making bodies, including the election of the first female MBA graduate as a sarpanch in Rajasthan.
The Asian Age reported today that Gangubai was elected unopposed as she was the only candidate to stand for the post of the village head of the Bhamburwadi gram panchayat, a position which is reserved for women. Last year, however, she beat the 31-year-old female candidate who ran against her for the position of a member of the panchayat. It is members of the panchayat who then elect the sarpanch.
Media reports said that Gangubai is going strong in her nineties, with a strong physique and her eyesight intact. She wakes up at 5 am, does household chores, and conducts rounds of the village, every day.
Gangubai, who lost her husband 10 year ago, told The Indian Express that she makes her own decisions, and even has disagreements with her children (fours sons and a daughter). She even revealed the secret of her fitness: "Eat less and live longer — that's my secret of life."
The newly elected sarpanch, who can read but can't write, is planning to send a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi about the pipeline which is needed to irrigate around 1,000 hectares of land.
"PM Modi is like my son. My oldest son is 66 years old and I am told the PM is around the same age... I am sure he will pay heed to the voices of farmers," she told the newspaper.
Gangubai said that she wouldn't mind if Modi visited her and the village.
Also on HuffPost India: