How many of us know of people who have completed their higher studies, worked in corporate sector, and quit their job to engage in social service? It is a minuscule segment of our educated population, and one that is gradually on the rise. Take the example of 30-year old Chhavi Rajawat. After completing her studies, she worked in the corporate world for few years. Today, she is the village sarpanch (head person) in Soda village, Tonk district, Rajasthan.
“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.” she says regarding her transition from corporate sector to social sector.
Her grandfather Brig. (retd) Raghubir Singh was unanimously elected sarpanch of Soda village. Rajawat says that her village has seen little development since his retirement 20 years ago. She is determined to improve the conditions for her villagers. Her priorities include, providing access to drinking water, electricity, and construction of proper roads in Soda.
Chhavi studied at Rishi Valley School, Andhra Pradesh, Mayo College Girls School in Rajasthan, and Lady Shri Ram College in Delhi. After her MBA from Pune, she worked for companies such as Times of India, Airtel, etc. She may be the first woman Sarpanch in India with an MBA degree, but a career in politics is not on her radar.
“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 her people. It’s as simple as that.”
Being a sarpanch doesn’t pay her much so she continues to work at the family-run Hotel Kailrugji in Jaipur and the E-quest riding school she set up in Jaipur. Her message for the youth of India:
“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.”