A young IT professional Chhavi Rajawat, who quit her thriving career in the corporate sector to become the first woman sarpanch of her ancestral village in Rajasthan in 2010, feels shift towards technology can be used as an essential tool to ensure transparency and accountability of the state exchequer.
In Panipat to participate in the two-day national thematic workshop on ‘best practices for women and child development’ at the Indian Oil Corporation refinery auditorium here, Rajawat told Hindustan Times on Wednesday during her four-year stint, she realised that there is rampant corruption and red-tapism which could be curbed by the technology-driven system.
Chhavi, who is in her early 30’s, said that rural areas in the country remained untouched by the waves of development as the policy makers did not have any connect with the masses.
Inspired by her brief speech on woman empowerment, several delegates posed with her for photographs and a civil surgeon even took her autographs.
At the two-day event organised by the central government, Chhavi turned out to be the most sought-after face among the participants on Wednesday.
“Political leaders and bureaucrats are unaware of the hardships faced by the villagers. Policy makers do not want to come to take assessment of the welfare programmes planned by the authorities. As technology does not discriminate, online watch would check on the misuse of funds by corrupt officials,” said Rajawat who belongs to an affluent business family.
A management graduate, Rajawat was elected sarpanch of Soda village in Tonk district in the desert state and she is reportedly the only MBA holding the office of a sarpanch in the country.
She enjoys village life and does not regret her decision of staying away from the glamorous life.
“My parent Narendra Singh Rajwat and Harsh Chauhan always stood by me in the toughest times. But my spiritual master Sadhguru is a guiding force to live for the society,” she said.
Rajawat said that even before Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about Swachh Bharat Abhiyan and equipping all households with functional toilets, Soda residents had adopted these activities through community participation.
“Out of the total 900 houses at Soda, toilets have been constructed in 800 houses. A soft drink company spent Rs 20 lakh for cleanliness of a pond, the only source of drinking water in the village,” she said.
She claims to have worked for enhancing electricity supply to four hours in a day in 2010 to 22 hours now and construction of a metalled road, among several projects. But she had to struggle hard for all these works.
As she planned an IT centre on the common land of Soda by utilising the central funds, few land grabbers who were eyeing the land, allegedly attacked Rajawat and few others.
However, the entire official machinery did not come to her support here as she was not affiliated to any political party, she says.
“Even as I was an elected representative, the previous (Congress) regime did not support my ideas of social welfare and empowering ruralites. Developments plans were stalled and the then establishment turned a blind eye on our woes. When I was attacked twice by the unsocial elements who were unhappy by my kind of transparent governance, the police officials did not act on my complaints. As I suffered a fracture, doctors at the local government hospitals refused to issue a medico-legal report (MLR),” she said while alleging that people at various levels connived with those who wanted to encroach land.
Rajawat said that she faced the hardships with the active support of her parents and the villagers.
However, she said that the support of her village made the government authorities realise the activities of the erring officials and support of the authorities.
“As the post of sarpanch at Soda was reserved for women in 2010, villagers wanted me to contest elections. Since I was regularly visiting Soda, I developed a special affection for them. Owing to my upbringing, I always wanted to payback something to the society. As I decided to leave my corporate career, my parents backed my decision to pursue social work,” she said.
She rues that the modern-day education system is pushing youngsters towards a rat race, leaving them hardly concerned about the society.