Chhavi Rajawat, the youngest sarpanch in India, has been scripting a success story by bringing winds of change in her ancestral village of Soda in Rajasthan.
After quitting a cushy corporate career, she is now devoting all her time to make the villagers financially self-sufficient in order to lead a meaningful socio-economic life.
After completing her high school from the Rishi Valley School in Bengaluru, Rajawat pursued her graduation from the Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi before doing her MBA from the Balaji Institute of Modern Management in Pune in 2003.
As a young girl, she had never planned to enter politics. But things changed when she came to the village to spend time with her grandfather Brij Raghubir Singh, who himself was a sarpanch for three terms until 1990. The residents of the drought-hit village approached her for help, and looking at their plight and after listening to the challenges faced by them, Rajawat decided to contest the sarpanch elections in 2011.
And she won hands down to become the youngest sarpanch in India at the age of 30.
However, it was not an easy ride for Rajawat who had little experience in politics. However, moved by a desire to serve the people of the drought-hit village, she decided to usher in a transformation.
With an aim to connect the government and the private sector with rural India, she shifted her base from Jaipur to Soda, just to be more accessible to the villagers.
Rajawat also challenged the stereotype image of a sarpanch as she never wore a ‘ghoonghat’ and roamed around in jeans.
Passionate about her work, Rajawat challenged all kinds of gender bias as she was clear in her mind to bring about a change in the village.
Rajawat has been working on core areas such as water, sanitation, electricity and roads in order to ensure that the villagers lead a quality life.
She also partnered with the concerned stakeholders to get toilets constructed in the village, besides working to improve the condition of roads.
Besides, she also ensured that the girl students of the village, who had to study under the open sky, move to a formal school building.
With an aim to make the village financially independent, she helped set up a branch of the State Bank of India in Soda, and ensured that all the villagers had a bank account. She also convinced few corporates to work on some projects to uplift the village.
All these have helped transform Soda from a backward to a ‘model’ village under the dynamic leadership of Rajawat, who is also India’s first sarpanch with an MBA degree.
Elected as an Aspen Fellow, she was also a part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) India Summit 2012 as a co-chair.
The same year, she was conferred with the ‘Young Global Leader’ title by the WEF.