The country’s first MBA woman sarpanch, Chhavi Rajawat, 32, presented a picturesque description of her dream to transform her native village Soda in Tonk district of Rajasthan as a model village with 100% literacy and no school dropouts.
She feels that since the tenure (5 years) of a village head is too short to translate her vision into reality, hence every day is a Monday for her. Once her native village becomes a model, it can be replicated in other remote villages, says Chhavi.
Chhavi was in the city to participate in the Sakshar Bharat Mahotsav on Sunday. With an undergraduate degree from Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi and an MBA from the Indian Institute of Modern Management in Pune, she left a lucrative corporate career to improve the living standards in her parental village. “Coming into politics was not my decision. The villagers of Soda love my family. They had elected my grandfather — a retired army officer —to the post many times and now when the post was reserved for women, they insisted that I also step into politics,” she told HT.
Quitting the corporate job that gave her a lavish lifestyle was not the easiest thing to do. “I listened to my heart and the voice of the villagers and left my lucrative profession only to work for the village where my family lived,” she added.
According to Chhavi, there is a world of difference in terms of the salary and perks that she gets now. “But the satisfaction and pleasure of working with the rural people is priceless and unmatched. No words can explain the emotion. It is exhilarating,” she said.
What hurts her most even today is that her village is still regarded as a backward place. Over a period of time, the government has pumped in huge money in the name of development but it has not reflected in real terms. “The challenge before me is to make it a model village,” she emphasised.
How? Pat came the reply: “I’m encouraging the girls to go to school. If I succeed in improving the literacy rate of my village (currently pegged around 40%) then things can improve gradually. I’m convincing the male members of my village to send their daughters to schools. Improving the teacher-taught ratio is another area of focus,” she told.
The 32-year-old, who created a stir when she spoke at a UN meet on rural development in March 2011, recently courted controversy for “obstructing development plans” to which she says that it has more to do with the fact that she is a woman. The ego of many officials get hurt, she said.