Breaking gender barriers: Driving bus is a passion for this Karnal village woman
Archana crossed the threshold of gender bias and got selected as driver on contractual basis in the city bus service started by the Karnal municipal corporation (KMC) in March this year.
Driving a passenger bus is a passion for 30-year-old Archana who has become the only woman driver of the Karnal city bus service.
The journey of becoming the first woman bus driver was challenging for Archana of Ballah village of the district, as she has to play the roles of a wife, mother and a daughter-in-law. But she crossed the threshold of the gender bias and got selected as driver on contractual basis in the city bus service started by the Karnal municipal corporation (KMC) in March this year.
“Since my childhood I wanted to do something different to make a mark in this man-dominated society and I did it by becoming a bus driver. Now several girls and women are taking inspiration from me, when they see a lady behind the wheel of a bus,” said Archana, sitting on the driver’s seat in a 40-seat bus.
Archana originally belongs to Rajana village of Jind district and she could not study after Class 12 as she got married at the age of 18. But she chased her dream even after becoming mother of two children.
She said her husband Dharmendra Sheoran, who is a taxi driver and has small agricultural land in Ballah village, helped her realise her dream.
“Five years ago I talked to my husband about my desire to become a driver and he extended his support to me. He even talked to his parents and convinced them to send me out of house for driving training,” she said.
“After getting the heavy vehicle driving licence in 2014, I took up the job of a driver with a private bus from Ambala to Pipli in Kurukshetra. Two years later I left this job and joined as driver of a private school bus in Assandh in 2016.
I got a chance again when KMC started city bus service. Out of three women candidates, I was the only one to be selected as a driver,” she added.
Archana said, “It was not easy for me to become a driver as I often heard people saying ‘bus chalana bahu ke bas ki baat koni’ (driving a bus is not the job of a daughter-in-law). This never discouraged me but rather gave me the confidence to prove them wrong.”
“Driving a bus was a best job I could do to answer these people who believe that women should not go out. Now people with such a mindset get shocked, when they see me driving a bus,” she said.
Though Archana drives a bus, she is soft-spoken and behaves very gently with people, unlike most of her male counterparts. “Though I drive a bus, I am still a woman. I talk to people very politely and people prefer to travel in my bus,” she said with a smile.
Archana gets a salary of ₹18,000 per month. “I am thankful to Karnal MC for giving me this opportunity. I would like to apply for the post of driver in Haryana Roadways in future.”