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Indian sarpanch dazzles at UN meet

Last Updated: Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 13:08

United Nations: There was a sense of
disbelief among ministers and ambassadors from diverse nations
when the chairperson of the 11th Info-Poverty World Conference
held at the United Nations introduced the jeans-clad Chhavi Rajawat as head of a village in India.

For, from a distance one could easily mistake Chhavi
Rajawat, an articulate, computer-savvy woman, for a frontline
model or at least a Bollywood actress. But she is sarpanch of
Soda village, 60 kilometres from Jaipur, in backward Rajasthan
and the changing face of growing dynamic rural India.

30-year-old Rajawat, India`s youngest and the only MBA to
become a village head -- the position mostly occupied by
elders, quit her senior management position with Bharti-Tele
Ventures of Airtel Group to serve her beloved villagers as
Rajawat participated in a panel discussion at the two-day
meet at the UN on March 24 and 25 on how civil society can
implement its actions and spoke on the role of civil society
in fighting poverty and promoting development.

It is necessary to re-think through various strategies of
action that includes new technologies like e-services in
achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an era
where resources have become limited, she told the delegates of
the international conference.
"If India continues to make progress at the same pace as
it has for the past 65 years since independence, it just won`t
be good enough. We`ll be failing people who dream about having
water, electricity, toilets, schools and jobs. I am convinced
we can do it differently and do it faster.

"In the past year alone, I and the villagers in Soda have
brought about a radical change in the village purely through
our own efforts. We have had no outside support - no NGO help,
no public, nor private sector help," she said.

On achieving Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), Rajawat
said she sought full support from outside agencies and the
corporate world. "I thank United Nations office for
Partnerships (UNOP) which had deputed its senior adviser in
India Mr Babu Lal Jain to visit Soda and extend all support in
the opening of the first bank in the village. That made all
the difference."

"In three years I will transform my village. I don`t want
money. I want people and organisations to adopt projects in my
village as often projects fail owing to lack of a local
connect and that is what I am here to provide by bridging that

"I want the conference to help bring about faster change
so that this generation can enjoy that kind of life that I -
and you in this audience - take for granted," she said to
thunderous cheers from the delegates.


First Published: Sunday, March 27, 2011 - 13:08

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