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An illiterate woman’s journey to become ‘Sarpanch’



She was working as stone cutter at road construction site. She was born in a extremely underprivileged Dalit family. She never had the opportunity to attend school or gain any formal education. But she fought for injustice.  Ultimately she became the ‘Sarpanch’ of her village.

Nouroti Devi’s story of success is amazing and very inspirational.

She is a resident of Harmada village in Kishangarh Tehsil in Ajmer district of Rajasthan.

When she was working as a labourer at road construction site she found some discrepancies in wage payment. She spoke with the other labourers, enlisted their support, and decided to raise her voice against this injustice. An NGO also came forward to help them. Nauroti who led the campaign took the case to the Supreme Court.

They won the case. It gave her tremendous self confidence. But she thought that to continue with fight against injustice she must get herself educated. So she decided to attend Barefoot College in Tilonia, located about 4 km from Harmada. She joined the six month long literacy training programme and with her quick learning skills was working at the college in no time. Barefoot college was established in 1972 by social activist Bunker Roy with intention to provide education, skill development training to underprivileged people.

With her Her leadership qualities she gained the confidence and support of women from nearby villages. She made them aware of their rights and worked to improve their condition.

she received training in computers as well and learnt the basics of operating a PC.

Nauroti Devi had earned immense respect in the region because of her determined fights against injustice. During that period some people of her village met her and requested her to fight for Panchayat elections.

She contested and won the election. Nauroti Devi became the sarpanch of Harmada in 2010. During her five-year term, she dedicated herself completely to do works of  development in the region. She worked tirelessly for the construction of water bodies, toilets, houses and the installation of hand pumps. She also fought against Alcohol Mafia.

Barefoot college helped them to install a computer at Panchayat office. She was so proficient by then that she even gave lessons to the government panchayat officer. She used internet to spread knowledge among villagers.

After the Rajasthan Panchayati Raj Amendment Bill of 2015 fixed the minimum educational qualifications for contesting in sarpanch elections to Class eight she didn’t participate in Panchayat elections anymore.

After working for 20 years her health started to deteriorate. Now she stopped her social activities. She gained further training in computers and started training other women and children in the village. She has trained 700 people in all and many children.

Nauroti Devi says “I feel very proud when the children I teach achieve success. I have trained my four grandchildren in computers and have enrolled them for formal computer training too.”

Impressed by her work the panchayat secretary once asked her ‘How did you learn to use the computer without having any kind of education.” She just replied him “While he and many others like him have scope, opportunities and resources required to afford quality education, I had nothing but my strength and determination. I used these qualities.”


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