Meet India’s First Female Truck Mechanic
This truck mechanic is proving that there’s no job women can’t do
“Sangharsh jeevan ka atoot hissa hain” says Shanti Devi,60. Shanti is believed to be India’s first female truck mechanic. It’s windy day today and dust blows everywhere at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, Asia’s largest truck parking zone. Shanti Devi stands out as a woman full of courage and resilience. Clad in a colourful saree and her hands adorned with bangles, she’s referred to as ‘masterji’ over here.
“It has been 35 year that i am doing this job as a truck mechanic here. Initially, I opened a tea shop and my husband used to repair trucks , it was after the increased workload that my husband motivated me to learn how to repair trucks. Ever since I have been doing this job with pride. There is no doubt that it is male dominated profession, but i don’t bother about that,”says Shanti Devi.
Speaking about her journey, she he says ,”Bringing up eight kids with meagre economic resources was not an easy task, but life tests you at every turn and it is your resolve that keeps you going in the face of adversity.”
“From losing my first husband at very young age and tying knot with my second husband is just fluke… life happens,”says Shanti. Summing up her life, she is moved to tears recalling her difficulty through it. ”Meri jagah koi aur hota toh jaan de chuka hota (If someone would have been at my place ,for sure he would have committed suicide ),” she says quietly.
But Shanti devi is a perfect example of a lady who struck a balance between her job and home, and building a better life for herself and her family in the process. Countering the aspersions casted on her, she says, ”Whenever you will set out on a journey to do something substantial, people will criticise you at every point of time. But if you will pay heed to them you will falter and get distracted.”
She reflects on the younger generation, saying that they do not have the determination to fight. ” ”Today’s generation is not very resilient, they succumb to challenges of life very easily. They are not like us… I have been constantly saying this to my children that ‘Fight Fight Fight’ is the only mantra to succeed in life.”
Now Shanti Devi is sensitizing and educating parents and others that there is no job that women can’t do .”It’s our narrow thought process that restrains the progress of girls by saying something is not a job of a women,”says Shanti Devi.
Shanti Devi: the first female truck mechanic of India is a brave, confident woman who is challenging gender stereotypes in a powerful yet understated way.
Shanti Devi’s truck repairing spot at the truck parking zone. The brave lady is known as ‘master ji’ commanding a huge amount of respect from her male peers.
Her life has been anything but easy. She entered the profession more out of compulsion than anything else, as life had dealt her a hard hand.
Picking up her tools to repair trucks, she tells us about her journey. ‘Fight, fight, fight,” is her mantra, she says.
Shanti doesn’t shy away from any part of the job. Moving a 50 kg truck tyre is just a regular day of work for her.
Checking the level of air inside the tube of tyre, she smiles and shares her wisdom.
Shanti is popular with colleagues and customers alike. Having a conversation with her customers, she shares tips and insights of the job.
Pictured, Shanti is moving the jack to install the tyre. The job of truck mechanic is a male dominated job in India, with Shanti perhaps one -- or just amongst a tiny handful -- of female truck mechanics in the country.
She entered the profession after marrying her second husband, who is also a truck mechanic.
Life is not all work. Shanti has come to enjoy her day at the parking zone, speaking to customers and chit chatting with colleagues.
She balances family life with work. Here, she’s stitching a sweater for her grandson.
At the end of the day, she and her husband leave together. All in a day’s work.
(Rajat Mishra is a freelance journalist pursuing Master in Convergent Journalism at Jamia Millia Islamia)