Chhavi Rajawat

Chhavi Rajawat Sarpanch

Sarpanch, Village Soda, Rajashthan,

Chhavi Rajawat has been Sarpanch of Village Soda in Rajasthan since 2010 during which time she has sought to transform the community into a model that can serve as an inspiration to others in rural India. Chhavi has followed a holistic path of development and has been working hard to win funding from government and non-government sources as well as to seek “adoption” of her projects by corporate and other entities. Chhavi is aiming to empower residents of her village and pave the way for them to carry out more life-changing improvements even after her elected term as sarpanch ends in 2015.

In the short space of two-and-a-half years, Chhavi has raised funds to de-silt a small portion of the village main reservoir to collect rainwater and provide respite by making available safer drinking water 12 months a year to a small portion of a community that previously has only had access to contaminated water.  She has also increased electricity supply to 16 hours from a previous maximum of four hours and introduced solar power to homes without conventional electricity sources. She has built roads connecting Soda with other villages and the main road. Thanks to Chhavi, residents have got their first bank – an outlet of the State Bank of India – allowing them to save as well as to borrow at reasonable interest rates – and escape the clutches of moneylenders. She is in the process of building toilets for the 900 households in the village through an innovative sponsorship scheme – a step that is transforming the lives of residents who have been forced to defecate in the open. She has set up self-help groups to provide new income sources from grinding spices and pulses and from tailoring. She has also opened a computer lab to train villagers in computer skills with the support of the German firm SAP. For young people, she has set up training and career guidance programmes and also launched a certified programme in “soft skills” for unemployed graduates. She has initiated tree-planting drives and her volunteer group called “Our Team” monitors staff attendance at the school, anganbari (crèche) and hospital and keeps the village spotless. She has also shifted the local girls school to larger premises that provides proper classrooms and desks for the pupils.

Chhavi holds a business management degree from Pune and a BA from Lady Shriram College in New Delhi. Previously, she worked in the private sector, holding senior posts with such companies as Bharti Airtel and the Carlson Group. Chhavi co-chaired the recent India World Economic Forum, which named her Young Global Leader for 2012. CNN in 2010 gave her its Young Indian Leader award.

Also, an Aspen Fellow; Chhavi recently received the Karamveer Puraskar (November 2012) and has been honored by Former President APJ Abdul Kalam (2011).

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