It surprised everyone to see the name of ChhaviRajawat in the list of successful village panch candidates of Rajasthan. The white collar population thought that the MBA graduate has jumped into the fray just out of sheer excitement while village population raised their eyebrows with astonishment. Normally in India, village politics veering around Gram panchayats is dominated by males. In exceptional cases due to provisions in the Panchayati Raj Act, females make entry into panchayats only to be monitored by their male dominated household.
She could have associated with any NGO working in rural development but she went by Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching of ‘Gramodaya’ and decided to be a real catalyst in the social process. Announcement of village panchayat election provided her immediate opportunity to link herself with the cause dear to her heart.
What made ChhaviRajawat to enter in village politics leaving behind cozy job ofBhartiAirtel Group is the question uppermost in the minds of the people who come face to face with her. To this her answer is “I am just a village girl who has had an opportunity to study in some of the best institutions in the country and has only gone back home to work with and for my people. It’s as simple as that.” Educated to handle corporate business from cozy environs but she decided to shape future of her rustic native village, Soda.
Born in Jaipur- Rajasthan, she returned to her Soda village in Malpura tehsil of Tonk district after 30 years with a social commitment . Before her decision to contest village panchayat election, she had acquired managerial qualities fromBalaji Institute Of Modern Management, Pune. She had practical experience in Tele communication industry where she developed urge to be a part of developmental process in rural India. She could have associated with any NGO working in rural development but she went by Mahatma Gandhi’s teaching of ‘Gramodaya’ and decided to be a real catalyst in the social process. Announcement of village panchayat election provided her immediate opportunity to link herself with the cause dear to her heart. Interestingly, her grandfather Brig. Raghubir Singh had previously been Sarpanch of the same village and that prompted her to enter village panchayat in his shoes. After getting elected, she echoed her feelings by saying “I didn’t have to think about it much because Soda is where I belong and it needs me. In fact, the villagers broke all barriers of caste, gender and religion to ensure my victory. In Soda, not even one per cent of the voters are from my own caste. They [the villagers] wanted to prove that development is the most important factor for which they can overlook all politically created differences.”
Her election to panchayat was a state level topic of discussion. However, her personality came into focus when she participated in the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations on 25th March 2011.
Participating in the UN panel discussion Rajawat spoke on the ‘Role of Civil Society in Fighting Poverty and Promoting Development’.
She said that in an era where resources have become limited, it is necessary to re-think strategies and there is a need to include new technologies like e-services in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. To achieve this objective she sought support from outside agencies and the corporate world. Setting the tone of her mission, she said “In three years I will transform my village. I don’t want money. I want people and organisations to adopt projects in my village”.
Her remarkable quality is that she can grasp the problem of the aggrieved people instantly. Her communicative skill is par excellence. In fact she had developed this skill to set up her own business but surprisingly, she is now handling 10000 strong Soda village. After getting elected as the village sarpanch she assessed the problems of the village and indentified the remedies required to rectify it. Among the many projects she initiated in the village were rain water harvesting, construction of toilets in most of the houses and afforestation . Her contribution was recognized by the Government of India and she was honoured by former President of India APJ Abdul Kalam at the Technology Day function at New Delhi.
Use of Modern Technology in the orthodox village set up
ChhaviRajawat going by the dictate of the government to modernise birth and death registration process took up IT project in her panchayat and commenced the work of records putting straight. Earlier this work was accomplished by bureaucracy and there were many flaws. Now the situation has changed. By just pressing the button, villagers whether literate or illiterate get possession of their valuable personal records. She has collaborated with a Germany based promoter- SAP to implement literacy programme. Elaborating her achievement, ChhaviRajawat stated that
The SAP has created an intranet and internet portal, as well as a technology education lab to enhance the quality of education in Soda village which was deprived of elementary educational facility for the years together.
|“Collaboration with SAP certainly has opened doors and given hope to the children through the computer literacy program”.|
The portal has been providing answers to critical questions raised by villagers from time to time. Today, by sitting in their village they can get linked to the state government website and find out money provided for developmental activities in their village and its actual utilization. Another achievement has been access to clean water. The village was declared unsafe for drinking water and even agriculture was in total disgrace. Ensuring access to clean water was one of the pressing needs that first inspired the partnership with SAP. This partnership is now aimed to create more opportunities for youth of the village and they expect more educated workforce to get engage in the healthier local economies that may drive demand for their software services.
The experiment in Soda village prompted SAP Managing Director in India, Peter Gartenberg to implement similar kind of projects in his ancestral village in Punjab.
Social service is a charitable job. People with social commitment devote themselves to the cause overlooking their urgent personal financial needs. But as the saying goes that you can wear any kind of mask to fool public but there is no mask to exhibit your wealthiness when in reality you are a pauper. This also holds good for ChhaviRajawat. Being a sarpanch of the village is neither a lucrative job nor a money generating venture. As such to meet her financial needs she continues to work at the family-run Hotel Kailrugji in Jaipur and the Equest Horse Riding Academy set up by her in Jaipur. Rajasthan has a tradition of Polo game and to revive the game and make it popular among masses, she has set up the academy which is catching up the fancy of youth. Explaining what prompted her to set up the academy,
|ChhaviRajawat summed up by saying “Don’t run away from your roots because that is your foundation and the nation’s foundation too. If you want to make a difference, you have got to start at the bottom. There is so much one can do.”|