Chhavi Rajawat is a one-woman whirlwind as the former corporate high-flier seeks to drag her impoverished ancestral village in the desert state of Rajasthan into the 21st century.
Rajawat, who spent her family holidays in sun-scorched Soda, became its sarpanch or elected village head three years ago after villagers implored her to take charge, with dozens turning up at her home in the state capital, Jaipur, to persuade her.
"The villagers broke all caste, gender and religious barriers to elect me," said Rajawat, a 33-year-old whose 10,000 constituents are mostly farmers and labourers largely untouched by India's economic boom.
The holder of a master's degree in business administration from a top Indian college ditched her career with a major Indian telecoms firm to become sarpanch and has been working ever since to bring better water, solar power, paved roads, toilets and a bank to her ancestral village.
Soda is a byword for backwardness in the remote corner of Rajasthan, where the houses are made of mud, electricity supplies are erratic, literacy levels are below 50 per cent and the fear of drought is never far away.
The villagers say there has been no progress since Rajawat's brigadier grandfather, now in his 90s, served as sarpanch two decades ago and they wanted someone else in the family to take on the role.
"I didn't have a choice," said Rajawat, who represented India at a recent United Nations poverty summit.
Her story reveals the potential of good grass-roots leadership in making a difference in a country plagued by graft and inefficiency. It also shows the limitations.
Swarmed by villagers as she walks down the road, Rajawat greets them by name as they share family news and pepper her with questions about progress on various projects.
"Nobody has been able to do what she has done - no other sarpanch has done as much," said farmer Jai Singh, 30.
Rajawat is visiting a computer centre in a no-frills stone structure that she set up with the help of a corporate sponsor. The spartan interior does not bother the youngsters who tap away eagerly on keyboards on long tables.
"It's a huge opportunity for them to get some skills - there was nothing before," said teacher Mohammed Sadeek, 25.
But Rajawat, who now divides her time between Soda and Jaipur, chafes impatiently at the sluggish pace of change.
"India can't keep advancing at the same slow rate - it must go faster. Otherwise we won't be able to give people the schools, the electricity, the water and the jobs they need," she said.
There are many women sarpanchs in India because a number of these posts are reserved for them. But what sets Rajawat apart is her education.
"She's unique. We need her kind of people, they are a breath of fresh air, they have vision," said a government worker.