On Mother’s Day on Sunday, Kota got its first woman auto driver.
Dharmishtha Sharma, 31, whose husband left her for another woman seven years ago, raised her son on her own. Now, to ensure the best possible future for her 11-year-old, she decided to break stereotypes and became the first woman auto driver in the city.
Dharmishtha began her new life as an auto driver during the World Red Cross Day celebrations organised by the Indian Red Cross Society and the Kota auto drivers’ union at the Kota Art Gallery and ferried her first passengers after the event.
Regional transport officer Dharmendra Chaudhary, who was one of the first customers, appreciated her effort.
Dharmishtha, until recently, lived with her in-laws in Bundi district’s Deoli ka Thana village and moved to Kota to pursue an independent career.
She said she never faced financial problems because her father-in-law was a retired government employee and received pension and their family also had agriculture land, where were sufficient for them. However, she chose to earn a living on her own to secure the future of her son, who is a student of Class 7.
Dharmishtha said she always had the support of her in-laws. In fact, it was her father-in-law, Mohanlal, 80, who taught her to drive a rickshaw.
Originally from Jhalawar, she was married to a man in Bundi. A graduate, Dharmishtha worked as a surveyor for a year after marriage but later became a homemaker.
So how does she feel about having to drive men? “It is my profession now so there is no point of any kind of hesitation,” she said.
If more take up auto driving inspired by her, it would be good news for women passengers as well.
Sangeeta, one of her customers, said more auto drivers like Dharmishtha would be a blessing for women passengers, who would feel a lot more comfortable travelling alone or at night driven by women.
Auto ambulance and mobile booking app launched
The Kota auto drivers’ union president Anees Raen launched a mobile app, called Hello Auto, to facilitate on-the-go booking of autos in the city.
An auto ambulance service was always inaugurated, under which around 250 autos in the union will provide free ambulance services in case of emergency and road mishaps. Also, the union will reimburse Rs 200 to drivers of other unions who provide free emergency ambulance service.