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Chhavi Rajawat, the sarpanch of the village of Soda in Rajasthan, India, and Co-Chair of the World Economic Forum on India attending the forum in 2012

Borrowed from Hindi सरपंच (sarpañc), from Hindi सर (sar, head) / Urdu سر(sar, head; chief) (from Persian سر(sar, head; chief, leader), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *ḱerh₂- (head; top)) + Hindi पंच (pañc, five (number of people in a panchayat council)) / Urdu پنچ(pañc); from Sanskrit पञ्चन् (pañcan, five), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *pénkʷe (five).



sarpanch (plural sarpanches)

  1. The elected head of a panchayat (village government) in Bangladesh, India, or Pakistan.
    • [1874, “Banda District”, in Edwin T. Atkinson, editor, Statistical, Descriptive and Historical Account of the North-western Provinces of India, volume I (BundelKhand), Allahabad: Printed at the North-western Provinces' Government Press, OCLC 7465439, page 102:
      Recourse to arbitration is not an uncommon mode of setting a dispute. Generally the number of arbitrators appointed is three, but sometimes five is the number, and occasionally some one individual is made single arbitrator (hasar karna). If more than one arbitrator be appointed, an umpire (or sarpanch) is also usually fixed upon, who gives the ultimate decision if the other two cannot agree.]
    • 1884, Government of Punjab, comp., Gazetteer of the Muzaffargarh District, 1883–84, Lahore: Arya Press, OCLC 68930587, page 129:
      The sarpanches were remunerated by the remission of part of the quota of labour which they were bound to supply.
    • 1973, Community Development and Panchayati Raj Digest, Hyderabad: National Institute of Community Development, OCLC 565849297, page 191:
      Every gram panchayat has a sarpanch and an up-sarpanch elected from its members by the gram panchayat in the prescribed manner.
    • 2017, Simon Chauchard, “Local Representation in Rural India: A View from the Ground”, in Why Representation Matters: The Meaning of Ethnic Quotas in Rural India, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, DOI:10.1017/9781316421864, →ISBN, pages 65–66:
      Except for the fact that some sort of political connection seems to be required in order to win a sarpanch election, there does not appear to exist many requirements, for instance in terms of wealth or education. Sarpanches are, in other words, common men and women. Second, the process through which sarpanches come into office is relatively similar across villages, including in "reserved villages." Being elected as sarpanch in contemporary rural India is the outcome of an arduous, intense, and surprisingly competitive process in which various candidates seek the support of complex political coalitions.


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