Every day when we open the white piece of paper, while sipping the morning tea, one kind of news always strikes out our minds — the crimes against the women in India. ‘Lady gang-raped in the bus while returning from work’, ‘Teenage girl raped by the cab driver’ and many more of the like! But every news has the same element in common — the unsafe transportation system of India. Having all the drivers and conductors of buses and taxies as men, the crime rate in transportation system will only go up and up. But from now on, it might have come to an end finally. Why? Vankadarath Saritha, the first female bus driver of India. Don’t believe me? Well, let us give us an ear to her story then!
The Childhood of Vankadarath Saritha
Miss Saritha was born in the poverty-ridden southern village of Telangana which was almost 900 miles away from the city life. The 1984 girl dropped her school out because of the financial problems at the age of 16 only. Since her childhood days, she always has been interested in driving motorised rickshaw as her father was a driver by profession. Although, she was the youngest of the five daughters, she took over her father’s profession when he fell sick.
Change of Mind, Change of States
Vankadarath Saritha was a great driver ever since she took the job of her father. From the age of just 16, she earned enough to feed her poor family and pay for the marriage of her sister. However, in a village so devoid of facilities and knowledge, Miss Saritha decided to move out of her town to increase her skill at driving.
Soon, she left her town for better employment privileges and went to Nalgonda, Hyderabad. In a city so big, the first thing she did is to apply for the heavy vehicle driver’s license. Owning to her skills and dedication, she took charge of a minibus in Hyderabad for Holy Mary College and surprised many passengers.
Flying High — The Incredible Journey of Vankadarath Saritha of being The First Bus Driver
After a long run in the city of Hyderabad, Miss Saritha moved to the city of Delhi to have a better exposure at her driving career. The first thing she got after arriving in the capital of India is her new employment at ‘Sakha Cabs’ run by the Azad Foundation. This was an all women cab driving skill that gifted her with many proficiencies such as driving-related skills, knowledge on women empowerment, understating the women’s right, Delhi’s routes and roads, map reading, self-defence and a grooming session. The eight months long training session helped Saritha a lot in getting what she wanted in her life.
And after a few setbacks in Delhi, she finally got what she wanted! She applied for the DTC bus driving programme and got selected amongst the eight only women. Not only that, but she also went for a four-week training session at the DTC training school. And after completing this program, she was appointed as the 543 DTC bus driver for the Sarojini Nagar Bus Depot.
Before Vankadarath Saritha, no women ever drove a bus for the DTC or any governmental transportation system. Thus, she finally conquered the title of being the first female bus driver in India.
The Struggle Afterwards
But her struggle for a good job does not end here. 15,000 bucks a month does not cut for a woman who has to maintain herself and her family back in Telangana, does it? So, now she is considering applying for the TSRTC, i.e. Telangana State Transportation system. In her own words,
“DTC said that they would give me a permanent job after six months, but that did not happen. I make Rs 15,000 a month, and in a place like Delhi, it is getting hard to manage expenses and send money back home. So, I decided to move back to my native place as I will be able to take care of my parents as well,”
If her application gets selected, she would be the first female bus driver of Telangana as well.
“I want to say: if a woman wants to do something, she can do. Men and women are equal, and they should always be equal in every sphere of life. Women have the capacity, strength and the power to do anything. You just need to be brave.”
The first time when she got selected as a bus driver, she was not encouraged by her colleagues; rather everyone doubted her skills. But in her own words, ‘You just need to be brave.’ And that is the only truth behind the success of women empowerment in India.
Written By: Subharthi Bhattacharya