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India�s youngest female sarpanch Chhavi in city

By Staff Reporter

GUWAHATI, Jan 29 - There is a need for educated and qualified youngsters to go back to their roots and work with perseverance by imbibing the spirit of team work to bring about changes in the society, especially in the rural areas, said Chhavi Rajawat, India�s youngest female sarpanch.

Rajawat, who is also the only sarpanch with an MBA degree, was speaking during an interaction on the topic, �Urban Youth Revitalizes Rural India: A Success Story,� organised by a city-based media group here today.

Rajawat, who was first elected as sarpanch of the village council of Soda in Rajasthan and re-elected for a second consecutive term last year, said that youths can bring in a lot of experience.

�Where we do not do well is in team work. Team work is what can bring about the real difference,� she said.

Rajawat, who left her corporate job to contest the panchayat polls and become a sarpanch, said she did not hesitate to jump into the fray when a group of villagers approached her.

Even a physical assault by some of her opponents last year did not daunt her, she said, adding that she is determined to continue her work to make Soda a model village in the country.

Under her leadership, toilets have been constructed in 800 out of the 900 houses in Soda. A soft drink company spent Rs 20 lakh for cleanliness of a pond, the only source of drinking water in the village.

Rajawat, who faced immense odds in a conservative society with some even dubbing her as a jeans-clad sarpanch, said, �The focus should be on work and not on how one dresses.�

�We need to respect others� views. Youths need to shed arrogance that comes with education. If you want to work among people, you should not have any preconceived ideas,� she said.

Rajawat said that only integrated and holistic solutions, which encompass social, political, economic and other aspects, can make a real difference.

�My experience of working in the corporate sector has helped. Aspirations of villagers and people in the urban area are the same, but we have a tendency of thinking for �us� and �them�,� she stressed.

Rajawat said that the notion that money is needed to win polls is also wrong.

�I did not spend even a single rupee on both occasions I contested,� she said.

According to her, water, roads and electricity are three basic necessities for development. Women of her village also came up to her to demand sanitation there.

Soda was selected along with 99 other villages by the UNICEF to implement its pilot project on sanitation. While speaking about social evils, she thinks one of the best ways to tackle social evils like child marriage in the society is through dialogue.

Asked if she has any ambition to try for the Chief Ministership of Rajasthan or other such high positions, Rajawat said she is not averse to the idea, but in the short term she wants to concentrate on her panchayat.

�We have to create a next line of leadership at the grassroot level. If we can do it across the country, we can change the face of the country,� Rajawat said.

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