In our country, the gender bias has been a historical issue. Since times immemorial, our women have been subject to forceful codes to follow and conduct likewise. They are denied many better things of life, in many cases, even the basic facilities like education. Women are not meant to work. They are supposed to perform homely duties and prepare themselves for marriage. Once married, the sole duty of women is toward their husbands and afterward their children. Hardly women get a life of their own, an existence that could be as relevant and impactful as that of their male counterparts.
In their sheer ignorance and prejudice, people overlook that women are also good enough to be a doctor or an engineer or even a politician. Even, if they can manage their homes, they are also able to run a state or country. However, this is not the case seen much. Like every field, even in politics, women are not welcomed much wholeheartedly. The participation of women in mainstream politics has been much low compared to that of men. And if they make an effort to make themselves felt, they are sidelined. During the time of freedom movements, India saw thousands of brave ladies coming forward and taking a stand for their beloved homeland. However, they were not given the sort of attention as their male fellows. After the freedom, women looked up to some change in the condition. But hardly anything significant has been happened since then. In 70 years of Independence, there has been only one female president and one female prime minister. This figure is enough to understand the condition of women in the politics and country altogether. Though the Constitution of India has removed gender inequalities on papers, the discrimination continues to check women’s political participation. One most witnessed cause behind the imbalance participation is the burden of household duties on Indian women. Also, Unlike men, women get fewer opportunities to get involved in organizations to learn and develop leadership skills. The male domination of political arena has left little public space for females in India.
Nonetheless, there have been many gutsy ladies who despite so much disparity never hesitate to break the barriers and make a career for themselves. Here is one challenge to the male-dominated politics of India – Chhavi Rajawat the IT profession who went on to become the first Sarpanch of her village Soda, Rajasthan, in 2010. She has been reported to be the youngest person to hold the office of Sarpanch. Though different from the mainstream politics, this development of Rajawat’s rise to the head of the village council seems a phenomenal prelude to the coming of a new era. Not only that, Rajawat is the first person with an MBA to be the sarpanch of an Indian village.
Born in Jaipur, the Pink City, Rajawat’s roots go back to Soda, the small village in Tonk district. Earlier, she studied at Rishi Valley School of Andhra Pradesh. Then, she went to Mayo College Girls’ School, Ajmer. Later on, Rajawat joined Lady Shri Ram College, under the University of Delhi. Finally, she did her MBA from Balaji Institute of Modern Management, Pune.
After doing MBA, she worked for companies such as Times of India, Carlson Group of Hotels, Airtel, etc.
Though settled in Jaipur, Rajawat used to visit regularly her ancestral home in Soda. In the meantime, she developed a special affection for the people and the place. A sensitive being with a kind heart, she always wanted to do something impactful for the society. Seeing the poor state of affairs in Soda, she made up her mind to get involved in social works there.
Leaving a shining corporate career wasn’t much easy, but her parents stood by her decision. Eventually, Rajawat left her job and city life to help develop the rural area. Much loved by the folks, she became the Sarpanch of Soda village, where once her grandfather Brig Raghubir Singh had held the same position.
A Representative of the Masses
Different to mainstream politics, Rajawat is not affiliated with any political organization. It is because of her work that she is admired all over the place. She meets people, engages with them and takes the lead in the development of the area. Following her vote to the office of the Sarpanch, Rajawat has implemented many successful projects successfully like rainwater harvesting, toilets facilities in most of the houses, etc.
An innovative leader
Even before the Clean Drive initiative started by the Modi government, Chhavi had worked with the rural folks to build toilets through community participation. On a rough account, more than 90% of the total houses at Soda have toilets by now, and the construction of the remaining houses is under process.
With her clean image and goodwill, Rajawat managed to get aid from a soft drink company that spent 20 lakh rupees for cleanliness of a pond, which is the sole source of drinking water in the village.
The difficulties faced
As a lady, Rajawat has to come a long way to make her political career in a men-made political system. However, that is not enough. She had to face other hostilities too. According to her developmental project, she proposed an IT center on the common land of Soda by utilizing the central funds. There were a few men who were eyeing the land and repulsed by Rajawat’s using it for public interest allegedly attacked her and few others. Reportedly, Chhavi and her father were continuously asking the police to provide security, but the police authorities did not act in spite of receiving threats and previous attempts on their lives. The political system wasn’t in her support owing to her non-allegiance to any particular party.
The then state government did not support many of her ideas of social welfare and empowering rural areas. Developments plans were held up, and the concerned authorities turned a blind eye to the suffering of the rustics.
However, with the support of the villagers, Rajawat struggled through the hardships and made the government realize the mischiefs of the erring officials and got the aids from of the state.
Rajawat was honored by the late President of India Dr. Kalam at the Technology Day function at New Delhi.
IBNLive acknowledged Chhavi Rajawat as the “Young Indian Leader”.
The Times of India, another leading national English daily, credits her as the changing face of rural Rajasthan.
On 25 March 2011, Rajawat was invited address the delegates at the 11th Infopoverty World Conference held at the United Nations.
In a system that is known for its patriarchal history, ladies like Chhavi Rajawat are coming to make the presence of women felt in the society. It is not only remarkable but needed too. There is a gap still between the men and women in this regard, and we have to bridge this gap by providing education to women and making them aware of their rights and privileges as mentioned in the Constitution. Though the government is doing to better the condition and make ways for more women into the political system, it is mostly up to us the people to understand the principles of equal share and opportunity. We must not relegate women as to servants and maids. It is not about giving a chance to women, but their rights that they deserve as human beings. If we do reform and change our attitude towards women, we would see more Indiras, Prathibas and Chhavis who would inspire several others too.