Women can’t drive, eh? Say that to Miss Vankadarath Saritha, who is the first woman to handle the stick at a Delhi Transport Corporation bus, ferrying hundreds of female passengers safely to their homes everyday.
This was perhaps the most obvious albeit rather delayed next move on the part of the Delhi Government, in the wake of all the crimes being perpetrated against women commuters in public transport. The most prominent ones were the gruesome December 2012 gang-rape of a female student, and the recent rape of a woman in a privately owned taxi-service Uber, by her assigned cab-driver.
Saritha’s decision and career choice are capable of making a difference in the larger picture, if it inspires other women to take up driving as a career. And at this point, officials are optimistic about that. ”Having a woman driver will help improve the image of our service,” DTC official RS Minhas said to BBC. “We had received seven to eight applications and we hired Saritha. Now we will advertise again and hire more women drivers.”
Miss Saritha, who has worked as a private chauffeur in the past two, now drives bus number 543. And her number one priority is to ensure the security of her woman passengers.
According to BBC Hindi‘s Indu Pandey, the women passengers were pleasantly surprised at the sight of a woman in charge of their travels. Many commuters stared amusedly and clicked pictures of this refreshingly different sight. But all in all, they were full of praises and respect, and even greeted her with a ”Thank you, madam” at the end of their journeys.
Many Indian states have had women bus drivers for years, but this is the first time the capital has hired a woman to drive a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus.
Ms Saritha hails from the state of Telangana, and said she took up this unconventional job for a simple and conventional reason- supporting her family. “We are five sisters. I first learnt to drive an auto rickshaw and then drove a van for a college, before driving a bus.”
With her salary, she will contribute to the running of her household back in her hometown, and someday even buy herself gold ear-rings.
Day one was almost perfect, save for a minor technical glitch with the doors that was resolved in no time. Now, Delhi’s infamous road discipline will provide a test for the city’s newest bus driver.
Featured Image: The Hindu