Meet Kisan Chachi, who has been awarded with Padma Shri this year

Rajkumari Devi of Anandpur, Muzzafarpur district, could never even think of the extraordinary achievements her future beholds for her. Popularly known as Kisan Chachi, she is a social worker, and has recently been conferred with Padma Shri for her work in health and education, child marriage abolition and widow rights and remarriage.

 “Women will get empowered only when they themselves break the age-old chains of biased traditions and build a path for themselves.’’

said Rajkumari Devi.

Rajkumari Devi is a real life example of the wonders; hard work can do in one’s life. Born to a teacher, she was brought up with utmost love and care. She was married at the innocent age of 15 due to financial problems in her family.

When she came to her husband’s place, she was heartbroken to see women working as mere laborers in the fields. She wanted to instill farming abilities in them.

Rajkumari Devi faced ridicule from the society for multiple reasons initially. She couldn’t bear a child for many years after her marriage. Her husband was unemployed and her family was poverty-stricken for years. All she had inherited from her husband’s family was one acre- arid land. Through her unbreakable will power, she made her and her family’s life better.

Being the iron lady that she is, she ignored the society’s taunts and went ahead and took the plunge for her family.

In the early 1980s, steel hearted Rajkumari picked up the shovel, assumed by the villagers to be a man’s tool. She helped her husband in agriculture. Her husband, however, only knew how to grow tobacco leaves and Rajkumari, nothing. They grew tobacco leaves for a few years. Their team work was commendable. While her husband went to nearby towns to sell the leaves, Rajkumari toiled hard in the fields. Gradually, observant Rajkumari knew her farmstead well. She knew what would grow better, where and in what climate.

She divided her plots in various sections and started growing multiple fruits and vegetables which proved to be profit worthy. This acted as a fuel in Rajkumari’s fire of passion. To enhance her skills, she learned modern farming techniques from Rajendra Agricultural University. This enhanced her knowledge and she began to grow papaya and Suran in her fields.

Rajkumari has gained immense expertise in agriculture through observance and perseverance.

I am no scientist, but have come to know the soil of this area well’,

she says Modestly.

Earlier, the annual floods would take away all her hard earned assets. She has now perfected her cropping cycle through careful analysis.

After gaining perfection in agriculture, Rajkumari tried her hands at pickle and murabba making. The business was started by a meager investment of Rs. 150. Gradually, her name spread with the smell of her pickles. She used to cycle to other villages to sell her products. This was the most ridiculed phase of her career. She was subjected to taunts by the local villagers on a daily basis. But Rajkumari knew what she was doing and didn’t pay heed to the hurtful taunts.

Today, Rajkumari Devi is an inspiration for thousands of women. She gained recognition from the then Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi.  He uploaded the design of her food processing model on the official website and invited her to the vibrant Gujarat-2013 summit.

In 2007, she got awarded the “Kisan Shri” award by the Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar. She was invited by Amitabh Bachchan on “Kaun Banega Crorepati’’ also.

These accolades gained her respect in her village, too. The people who had boycotted her for doing a so-assumed man’s job, could not stop their praises for Rajkumari Devi. She was adoringly given the title of ‘Kisaan chachi’ by the villagers. Now, her cycle has been replaced by a scooty and the people’s loathe towards her is replaced by love and admiration.

Rajkumari Devi has inspired many women and offered her support to everyone by sharing her expertise freely. She has mobilized more than 300 women and formed small self-help groups. She has set up a Non-Profit Organisation that not only picks up fresh produce from the farms run by the women of the various self-help groups, but also employs women to make agro-based products.

“Life has changed. We were only experts in our house hold chores. Now, we also sell our homemade products. The feeling of independence is a priceless gift given to us by Kisan Chachi”,

praises a fellow village woman.

Kisaan Chachi is working towards women empowerment in real terms. Rajkumari Devi is an inspiration and Bihar is proud to have her.

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Quote of the day: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that."
-Martin Luther King Jr.

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