“It’s a major step towards women empowerment in the national Capital. We have short-listed one more woman to impart training as a bus driver. The government is committed to promoting more and more women to come in this field,” said Gopal Rai, Delhi’s transport minister. V. Saritha from Telangana broke all the stereotypes to become Delhi’s first-ever female driver in 2015.
She came to Delhi in 2012 after she read about the Azad Foundation, an NGO that trained women drivers. Earlier, V. Saritha drove an auto in the Southern state to feed her family. Although unaware of the Hindi language and Delhi bus routes, her driving skills allowed her to clear the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) driving criteria from a pool of 10 female applicants. “I wanted to send out a message that a woman can do any job that a man can,” said V. Saritha.
As V. Saritha gets on with her daily routine, she drives around 120-130 km every day on the Noida-Delhi route, starting from Sarojini Nagar depot at 5 am and ending at the same point at 12:30 in the afternoon. Being a female bus driver, she had to encounter many turbulences and people’s laughter for her position. V. Saritha said, “People usually think women are not good drivers. I have proven them wrong, my passengers like my driving skills, and I am often praised by them. They wait to ride on my bus.” She has complete control of the road, with smooth turns and timely braking.
Saritha’s parents are supportive of her decision. However, her mother is quite concerned for her safety on Delhi roads, as previously she had driven only auto and mini college buses in Nalgonda and Hyderabad respectively. “I have realized that driving in Delhi is most difficult, with heavy traffic and impatient drivers. I am worried about cycle rickshaws suddenly coming in front of my bus out of nowhere,” said Saritha.
Saritha’s driving instructor, Parvesh Sharma was happy to train a female driver like her. He said, “I have been training drivers for years now. But Saritha has surprised me. She is the best among a group of 40 drivers I am presently training. She is going to be a good driver.”
With many female conductors inspired to become drivers, Saritha feels elated to be a contributor to women’s empowerment.