Poor Sex Ratio in Haryana, Punjab? These Women Bus Conductors Break All Stereotypes
“Tell me something my friend, have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?” That was Batman daring the co actor.
But in real life some of the girls from from the conservative societies of Haryana and Punjab are doing the same by quashing the stereotypes. These women have entered the non conventional profession of bus conductors in Chandigarh. They lapped up the opportunity given by the Chandigarh administration and have not disappointed either their recruiters and colleagues or the commuters.
Full of spirit and vibrancy, these girls in the age group of 18 to 25 years are full of zeal and vigor to prove themselves. At a first glance they look like any other college girl wearing jeans , a top, a lipstick and a pony tail. It is only when they start punching the tickets that one discerns that she is the bus conductor.
The solemn and otherwise humdrum conductors have a new image now, thanks to these women. Always well timed to welcome the commuters with a smiling face, they help the aged and the children board and get down from the low floor local buses. The school children are given special heed and kept under surveillance as these 'Didis' are their new friends.
The image of Chandigarh Transport Undertaking (CTU) stands renovated with these women when it decided to give them 33 per cent reservation in employment. At a time when government jobs are losing their lustre due to contractual mode of employment, joining on the regular government pay roll was a great break through for them.
Ranjana, a bright, upbeat and confident conductor feels that this is the best thing that has happened to her. On how she reacts to people opining about her job, she says, “Frankly I don’t give a damn. We are the first ones and we are proud of it.”
These girls have also washed off the dust from the old static mindsets, though a few of them did face a demur when they disclosed at home that they have got the job a conductors. But hell bent to undertake the new journey, they have are on a new path. Poonam says, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship with everyone around. The male staff is very considerate and helpful.”
These girls often walk several kilometres from their rented accommodation to report for work as early as 6 am. They never complain and instead laugh away the hardship saying,”It adds to our health.”
“ We are taking up the issue of providing government accommodation for these girls. We are seeking out of turn allotment for them,” said a CTU union functionary Ranjeet Singh Hans.
Another conductor Poonam said, “We get help from everyone. If we are unwell or anyone of us is pregnant, we are given static duties at the bus stands to fill the registers or some other official work.”
Their duty manager Amar Singh told this reported, “The saddest thing in life is the wasted talent. We try to put life in every moment and make it worth living for all of us.” The camaraderie is visible at the bus depots where these girls enjoy being a part of the team.
With 72 girls being recruited with a minimum qualification of 10+2, Chandigarh boasts of the highest number of women conductors. These girls underwent self defence training before joining, which they say might come handy some day. “But the people here are civilized. A mere increase in the voice sorts out the minor issues. The police are also instantly available for help once we call the control room. The people have accepted us,” says Suman.
These girls feel that other states should also follow the CTU example and recruit girls as conductors. Some of them even want to do duties on inter district and inter state routes aiming to explore new horizons.