In a historical first, the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) has recruited its first woman driver.
Thirty-year-old Saritha is the youngest of five daughters and hails from Telangana.
Her journey to a ‘government job’ has not been an easy one, Saritha said. After her father died and the family became cash-strapped, getting into the driver’s seat — of auto-rickshaws and minibuses — was the only way for her to earn a living and keep her family fed. “I started driving an auto-rickshaw in my mid-20s. It was in 2011 that I first drove a bus — it was more of a minibus — in Hyderabad. It gave me the confidence to earn a livelihood with dignity,” Saritha said.
She will be hitting Delhi roads on route number 615 from Monday.
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Saritha said she heard about the Azad Foundation, an NGO based in Delhi, where they give training to women to drive taxis.
“I approached them and they gave me training. At the foundation, I even got to drive a BMW,” Saritha, who wants to be an example for her male counterparts in DTC, said.
When DTC met these women drivers from Azad Foundation, Saritha knew her dream of finally landing a government job was going to be a reality.
Applications were invited from women candidates and the Transport department received seven applications. Of these, five candidates showed up and after medical examination Saritha was found fit to drive a bus. She was shortlisted for training of 28 days. On Friday, Saritha received her licence to drive the DTC bus.
“I am thankful to the DTC for giving me a chance. It is a big opportunity for me. A government job is a huge thing in my family,” Saritha, who has been posted to the Sarojini Nagar depot, said.
So how would Saritha handle the stress and pressure that’s part and parcel of a DTC driver’s life, given the chaos on Delhi roads? “I will never overtake or drive rashly. I will park the bus only in designated space and not pay heed to those who try to wave down the bus on the middle of the road. I will not indulge in over-speeding. It does not matter if I get a bit late,” Saritha said.
Transport Minister Gopal Rai said it has given his ministry great pleasure to empower women. “We will consider having more buses driven by women. A PSV badge is mandatory for performing line/bus duty and Saritha was provided all possible help by the DTC authorities for obtaining the badge from the Transport department,” Rai said.