For some people goals and aspirations never end and the quest for life goes on. Chhavi Rajawat, a merit finder and an optimist who came out of the box of monotony and went back to her village in Rajasthan to bring about the concept of management to sort out the problems existing there. Born in Jaipur, Rajasthan, Chhavi is from a small village called Soda in Malpura tehsil, Tonk district. She did her schooling from Rishi Valley School (Andhra Pradesh) and Mayo College (Ajmer), and went to Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi for graduation. An MBA graduate, Chhavi utilizes her business management degree to take care of her village better.
Before switching her focus towards Soda village, she worked with five companies with various capacities. And today she is accumulating all her experience and applying on the welfare of the village as a Sarpanch. Apart from sorting out various disputes among the farmers and villagers, she is also taking note of the unemployment issues and kind of facilities provided to the villagers of Soda. Chhavi heads the NREGA meetings in the village and believes in taking crucial steps which would help the village to come forward. Besides being the sarpanch of Soda, Chhavi also runs a hotel that family owns in Jaipur and a horse riding academy.
She also undertook the water conservation project which includes digging afresh and strengthening of the reservoir covering an area of 100 acres. According to her, there are numerous problems and issues in the village which needs to be resolved.
- About the panchayat, it is actually a gram-swaraj where the sarpanch is not really a sarpanch. His post is just for namesake. There is a lack of funds and no powers that a panchayat can use for the welfare purpose. The villagers completely depend on the district level government officials. These officials and local politicians are bribe feeders and eaters and thrive on casteism. Therefore without any legal documents or proofs, the legal issues remain tied up in files for years. The only authority a panchayat has is listing down the proposals of projects that village has to undertake. This is then sent to the District headquarters for approval and sanctions.
- The estimated cost of the water conservation project is 3.5 crores. The reason the state government gave for not funding this project is that it prohibits the usage of machinery for the rural development. All the water in the village is declared unsafe owing to high levels of natural contamination from fluoride, chloride and other minerals and salinity. Due to the saline nature, the water is not fit for irrigation also. This unsafe water is showing its effects on village kids who most of them are suffering from dental fluorosis. Therefore rainwater is the only source of safe water available in the village. Prior to 2010, Soda has been declared as the drought hit zone which got relief in 2010 after 14 years.
- In villages, agriculture is the only source of income which is seasonal. Thus even those who are above poverty line cannot afford to shell out money to construct toilets and take sanitation measures.
- Children education in Soda is hindered by the government for not providing options of subjects in which they are interested in. This makes young children indifferent towards their studies and hence they tend to give up.
According to Chhavi, water conservation project was there top priority, hence now it is running successfully and independently under her assistance and due to the honest effort of villagers of Soda.
Lack of proper sanitation was another issue in Soda, which Chhavi and the villagers are overcoming by seeking funds to build toilets in each and every home in the village (i.e., 1000 households cost per toilet being Rs.500). Apart from this, solar electricity is also promoted in soda village which is a great help to them. If one has to bring some positive change, one has to work very hard in every direction, Chhavi is trying to change mindsets. “Villagers have got used to not working and taking the partial payments for NREGA, I have to change that, I go for surprise visits and give them a scolding or two if they are not working”, says Chhavi. With the help of NREGA and various NGOs, she is focusing on bringing about job opportunities and safe drinking water in the village which is the major concern. She is also involved in improving the education facilities in the village.
Working hard with the villagers of Soda, Chhavi says that she is used to rural life as she grew up playing with kids of farmers. Soda is her home and she believes in doing every good thing for the village welfare. Chhavi took the whole responsibility of the village and says she is paying her debt to the village she grew up in. Villagers of Soda consider Chhavi as their daughter and trust her skills. Girls of the village want to be like her and get inspiration from her work.
More than 90 percent of the educated and skilled people live in cities and become a part of a rat race. And out of that 90 percent educated 20-30 percent settle abroad to make money. They forget the very fact that our country needs them. Chhavi Rajawat is out of those 10 percent educated personalities who give up their comforts and glamorous city lives and work for the cause of welfare of the country and her village Soda. Chhavi Rajawat is an angel of the Soda village and the villagers. At this point of time, the people of Soda not only appreciate her but also feel proud of them. Now Chhavi resides in the Soda village itself and takes all the crucial responsibilities for the improvement of the system which a village sarpanch should take. Chhavi proved to be a heritage saver by being a merit finder which became a boon for Soda village.