Chhavi Rajawat has been the sarpanch (head of the village council), the Gram Panchayat Soda, since her election in February 2010. She is India’s youngest, and only MBA to become a village head, the position mostly occupied by elders. Renowned for the passion that drives her to drag her impoverished ancestral village Soda, into the 21st Century, Rajawat features among the 192 Young Global Leaders announced by the World Economic Forum in 2012. She has also been recognised as Young Indian Leader by CNN-IBN.
Rajawat proves that good grassroots leadership, can make a very significant difference in under-developed regions, and that corruption and inefficiency can be overcome. Soda is a village of 10,000 constituents, located 60 kilometres from Jaipur, in the District of Tonk, in Rajasthan. The houses are made of mud, electricity supplies are erratic, literacy levels are below 50 per cent, and drought is a constant fear. The face of the village of Soda has utterly changed under Rajawat’s leadership. She has concentrated on the most fundamental issues like water conservation, education, health and sanitation, reforestation, electricity and roads. To make the whole process of development transparent, Rajawat is the only Indian politician to ensure that all the information regarding the status of the projects are shared online.
As Rajawat takes the road less travelled, her actions, plans & conviction are being appreciated within the country, and at global platforms. She talks passionately about how civil society can implement action to reduce poverty, and the role of civil society and technology in fighting poverty and promoting development. Rajawat is a speaker at international conferences, such as the Info-Poverty World Conference held at the United Nations, New York.
The MBA graduate left her corporate career with one of the country’s biggest telecom firms to become sarpanch. Previously she worked with Bharti TeleVentures, the Carlson Group of Hotels and the Times of India, Delhi. Leaving behind a glamorous corporate career and an urban lifestyle, her decision to serve her village as sarpanch has been a journey to her roots. The villagers of Soda implored her to take charge with dozens turning up at her home in Jaipur to persuade her, saying that no progress had been made since Rajawat’s brigadier grandfather, had served as sarpanch two decades ago.
Chhavi Rajawat was born in Rajasthan, and attended the Rishi Valley School, Bangalore, and The Lady Shri Ram College, at the University of Delhi. She received her MBA from the Indian Institute of Modern Management, Pune, now known as Balaji Institute of Modern Management.
Her family business Kailrugji The Hotel in Jaipur, is run by her mother who is ably supported by Rajawat. She also runs Equest Horse Riding Academy.
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