Vasundhara Chaudhary, a III year Psychology Honors student from Gargi college was elected as the Sarpanch of her ancestral village Lilawali, Hanumangarh district, Rajasthan, albeit unopposed. This achievement is indeed extra-ordinary and inspiring.
We got into an exclusive conversation with Vasundhara, curiously questioning her about how does she feel, what all does she plan to do in life, and for people of Lilawali and so on. Here are the extracts of our interview with her:
Q1: What’s your association with the village Lilawali and it’s people?
Lilawali is my ancestral village, I was born there, I lived there for 5 years until my father decided to move to Delhi for my better schooling and education. Even then, I’ve visited Lilawali almost every summer vacation and have seen what much difference existed in the lifestyle of both places. The liberty of city life was mere theoretical for the people living in rural India.
Q2: Rural India is still considered synonymous to gender bias, stereotypes and people with orthodox mentality. Does your election as the Sarpanch of Lilawali indicate a social change, an awakening?
I won’t call it an awakening because that’ll be saying a lot. Yes, the people are changing, they are opening up to new ideas, yet the change isn’t here entirely. There’s still illiteracy, bias against women and lack of knowledge prevalent in rural India.
Q3: Assuming charge of your responsibility, what all do you intend to do for the people of Lilawali?
My first priority would be the safety and security of women. I’ll work to make women self dependent and self reliant by making efforts to bring up the education and employment avenues in the village. I’ll make efforts to bring up the literacy rate from the current 40% to 90% in my tenure.
Q4: What do you believe will be the major obstacles you’ll have to tackle? How do you plan on facing them?
I think it’ll be hard enough to convince people on something they aren’t aware of. Also, the fight won’t only be against men, but women as well, for they’ve lived with their beliefs for a long time now. I’ll try taking baby steps, for change isn’t immediate but gradual. Rushing through the things could go against me, people might not accept strong steps and turn defiant. So, I’ll try taking it easy and slow.
Q5: You are currently in the final year, Psychology Honors from Gargi College, University of Delhi. What are your future plans career-wise?
I want to do my Masters from the University of Delhi in gender studies or psychology, followed by a Ph.D.
Q6: How do you plan to manage your time juggling between studies, career and responsibility at Lilawali?
The head Sarpanch won’t be required physically on daily basis. I’ve got a dedicated team working with me. I’ll visit once every fortnight to ensure that everything is being done as directed and to the best of abilities of the team and welfare of the people.
Q7: Do you aim to enter into active politics in a few years down the line?
No, not really but I’d continue working for bringing about a change for good in the society.
Q8: Being of your age, this is an extra-ordinary achievement, how do your parents and family react?
My family is happy and supportive for they know I’ve always wanted to work for the society. My grandfather has been the village Sarpanch twice before becoming an MLA and a Rajya Sabha (1978) and my father has been a Zila Parishad member in 1996, so they understand. My peers react weird at times, but that’s fine.
Q9: Is there anything that you would like to say to or advise your peers/ juniors across the country?
I’d just say that everyone should be confident enough to stand up for what they feel needs to be changed. Take a stand to improve things and work hard to bring about the change, it isn’t anything extra-ordinary.
We thank Vasundhara for speaking to us and wish her all the very best for her future ventures!