Chhavi Rajawat, Sarpanch of the village Soda, is QUITE a woman. It ain't an easy task being the head of governance, and as the Sarpanch of her village, Chhavi has to deal with about a million things a day—with zero external party assistance. Her job involves "everything possible! From resolving residents' personal disputes, maintaining law and order, protecting the village's common lands, raising funds…everything's linked and every aspect needs attention. It doesn't help that resources are meagre."
She didn't plan any of this. In fact, her dream was running a horse riding academy! But, in a manner quite like Swades, a few despair-filled visits to her village showed her how much it needed her. "When the villagers came to persuade me into running for office I couldn't let them down," she says, adding that, "given my education and work experience in the corporate sector, I thought I'd be able to play facilitator, and bridge the gap between the village and the government and the private sector. I believe in a bottom-up approach and in developing one village at a time…"
It doesn't get more daunting than dealing with the government as a Panchayat head, because "Panchayats are not respected. The very machinery (bureaucratic as well as political) that's supposed to assist development is instead working tirelessly to pose hindrances." Her being a woman just digs the hole deeper. "When the work on a project we'd been working on—to build an IT centre in every Panchyat—commenced, I was attacked. There was no police assistance, and the assault was clearly to scare off a Lady Sarpanch. Luckily, with family support, I managed to stand tall through it all."
In her time as a Sarpanch, she's managed to do great things for Soda—constructed toilets in 900 homes, got electricity supply to go from 4 hours a day to 22 hours a day, got the first bank and ATM to set up and created a solid waste recycling plant…and dozens more. Her key to staying to strong and getting sh*t done is "patience, perseverance, and always having a plan B."