Chhavi Rajawat- Beauty,Brains & Brawn

5th Feb, 2017

| by writesolutions

In Rajasthan, 34-year-old Chhavi Rajawat is known as the MBA sarpanch. In Soda, a small hamlet just three hours’ drive from the capital city of Jaipur, where she is the sarpanch (a democratically elected chieftain), she is called sarpanch beti (daughter). The corporate world knows her as someone who bid adieu to a high-paying job in corporate sales in 2010 to join politics.

Those who meet her for the first time, often take her for a model for her drop-dead looks. But a million-dollar question is will the real Chhavi Rajawat, please stand up?
To dig an answer, one has to dig deeper into the fabric of Soda village. Like thousands of other villages across India, this hamlet has a serious problem: Only a third of households have wet toilets or access to a latrine. Villagers relieve themselves in the open, which could be okay for men, but for women it poses a serious health and safety hazard, more so, as, out of modesty, they often sneak out in the dark.

Soda, however, has something all other toilet-less villages do not. It has an iPhone-wielding sarpanch, who bounds around the dusty lanes in sleek Nike sneakers and number-crunches all the data on toilet crisis on her laptop in a PowerPoint format that she presents to whoever cares to listen. She is on a one-point mission to bring about a massive change in a feudal set-up.

She wields a strange sort of a moral clout amongst her constituents (mostly illiterate) and surprisingly, the denim-clad surpanch has been warmly accepted in a patriarchal village, where women are required to cover their faces behind a ten inch ghoonghat.

Chhavi has encyclopedic knowledge of the water level in Soda reservoir. When she tours the lanes and bylanes of Soda with her political entourage, elderly constituents bend down to touch her feet, and her electorate waylays her everywhere to draw her attention to everything from civic issues, steep medical bills, lack of medical care and primary education facilities to permanently clogged drains.
To a newbie, she may come across as a feudal lord of colonial times but the parallel makes Ms. Rajawat wistful. “Except 100 years ago,” she said, “the lord just had to snap his fingers and it was done. Now you have to fight. I’m basically at war with everyone,” she told a mediaperson.

Chhavi shuttles between Soda and Jaipur, where she runs a horse riding school called E-Quest. Before that she has helped her mom run their family hotel, Kailrugji.
She isn’t celebrity. But she has extraordinary spunk. And the most notable feature about the women we are profiling in ‘Unsung Heroines’ series is that none of these women stand coyly behind or even beside their respective husbands. Rather they stand right next to them, and, in some cases, even in front of them.
These women are everything from writers and artists to political thinkers, human rights activists to pioneers of a huge cultural change like Chhavi. Unsung heroines, they cannot be dismissed as footnotes in the pages of history, because they are actually, the protagonists – the change-makers.


Radhika Sachdev

Content Strategist

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Ritu Goel
2 years 1 month ago

Very inspiring….