Clad in denims with sunglasses perched on her head, Chhavi Rajawat, 30, would have looked like a lost tourist in the dust and rubble of a village but strangely she blends in. What is it about her that makes her fit in? The content expression on her face and that smile says so much without saying anything at all. Chhavi, who has tasted materialistic success in life has voluntarily renounced the glitzy city life and returned to her roots.
A Delhi University alumnus, Rajawat is equipped with a high paying MBA degree. After wasting five years of her life in the rut of the corporate world, she packed her bags and headed back to her native village Soda, 60 km from Jaipur. Since then there has been no looking back.
What made a city-bred girl do Volte-Face? "My family's roots are in that village and I have an emotional bond with it. If I, hailing from the village, don't help it grow then how can I expect anyone else to do so? The decision was not pre-planned. It's just that fate had something else stored for me. The villagers blackmailed me in to coming back. I could see the hope and the expectations in their eyes that made me give in because, I realized if I said 'no' I would have broken their hearts."
It takes guts to turn your back at a rewarding corporate career and embrace the responsibilities of a rural life. Her MBA would seem like such a waste in the eyes of the society but she puts critics in their place," Using my business sense I am trying to generate funds for the Panchayat. Otherwise the Panchayat has no funds of its own."With such a great example, you would think more people from the village would be inspired to take on the responsibilities of running the village. But she is quick to point out why it doesn't happen, "I'm privileged to have a source of income from other means. You will be shocked to hear the remuneration the Sarpanch receives. It's a 24x7 job and the income is poor - the main reason why people become corrupt."
Chhavi strongly believes that more and more educated young Indians need to come forward to help develop and improve lives in the villages.
As a woman Sarpanch how she deals with all the prejudices and discriminations, "Since I hail from the village, everyone treats me as the daughter. I don't think about the discriminations and focus on doing what I have come to do."
Visibly fed up with the looming levels of corruption at every level, she feels that a village Sarpanchneeds more authority to direct funds towards the development of villages. "We hear of big budgets but in reality, the Sarpanch does not have any say in matters of funding. Even for small things the financial sanction and approval needs to be taken by the government officials at the district level.Only if you find a loophole in the system will the money come to you.
Completely focused on her work, she hardly misses the glitz and glamour of the high-life, "The joy in helping so many people, for me, is far more satisfying than all the big bucks I could otherwise get. I just need bare minimum to comfortably survive which my little hotel in Jaipur takes care of. Though, I must admit, ever since I got elected the hotel business has suffered immensely," she laughs.