Driving towards new destinations

Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic & Road safety) M.A. Saleem interacting with women trained to drive cars under ‘Unnati’, a Maruti Suzuki initiative, in Bengaluru on Wednesday.  

They were in their best saris and accessories, but what stood out were the certificates in their hands and their uniform vest. For these 12 proud women, it was a moment of transition into a life they had least expected.

Perhaps they had not imagined that they would move on from their housekeeping jobs to ferrying passengers to their destinations across the city in cars. Now part of ‘Taxshe Services Private Ltd.’ that offers ‘driver on call’ services to women, children and senior citizens, these women completed 50 hours of intensive training under the ‘Unnati’ scheme by Maruti Suzuki. Besides that, they have been trained in English language skills and self-defence by an organisation in Marathahalli.

Armed with the necessary skills, M. Vijaya (34) now drives from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. to earn some additional money besides what she gets from working in the housekeeping department of an office. She also drives a school bus. “I learnt how to drive a car, but now I can drive any vehicle. I am not scared,” she said confidently.

Most of these women, who were part of the pilot project launched to impart professional driving skills for free in Bengaluru, had never taken a car ride. For instance, polio-affected Selvi T. not only overcame hurdles such as lack of knowledge, but she also had to tell herself that she can learn driving despite her physical disability. “Many people said I wouldn’t be able to handle the clutch. But I do not find it difficult,” she said.

However, not all those who registered under the pilot project were able to complete it. Some women dropped out due to family pressure, said Vandana Suri, Founder of Taxshe, the service that was started on Women’s Day. Making a humble beginning with not enough women drivers (Ms. Suri herself doubles up as a driver sometimes), ‘Unnati’ has now given them enough number of drivers for the 150 calls that they receive each day (the website too has had 50,000 visitors so far).

These women earn Rs. 150 per hour, while they charge Rs. 300 per hour if they ferry customers to their destinations after 7 p.m. However, most often, they ensure they wind up by 9 p.m. This apart, they are also paid a monthly salary by Taxshe.

“Nearly 47 per cent of the total number of people we train are women. We want this number to increase,” said Mahesh Rajoria, Assistant Vice-President, Driving Training and Loyalty Programme, Maruti Suzuki.

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Printable version | Oct 24, 2020 2:57:41 AM |

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