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.
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“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.