Gujarat hires 181 women as bus conductors
Twenty-two-year-old Shabnam Pathan got married this Monday. The next day, her mehndi still fresh on her hands, she was in Gandhinagar to collect her appointment letter as a conductor on a Gujarat State Road Transport Corporation (GSRTC) bus. Her husband Tanvir Pathan (27) accompanied her to the function in the state capital even as family members back home in Kheda were busy celebrating their wedding.
Dressed in a crisp, khakhi salwar kameez with a neatly folded white dupatta on her shoulders and an identity card hanging around her neck, Shabnam was among the similarly attired 181 women who were handed their appointment letters by the GSRTC as part of first such major drive to hire women conductors.
A graduate in Gujarati literature, Shabnam was ecstatic. "I got married yesterday and here I am, starting another new chapter of my life. My husband, a policeman, and his family knew about my application for the job and they fully supported me. His parents were the ones who asked him to accompany me for this function," she said.
The job requires the candidates have cleared their class X examinations and are less than 35 years of age. However, almost 99 per cent of the appointees today were graduates. Also, most of the them were 20-25 years of age and many were mothers with children as young as a year old.
And yet, they seemed to have no inhibitions about working as conductors in public transport buses where they could be most vulnerable to sexual harassment.
While authorities claimed that perks and security of a government job coupled with introduction of electronic and computerised ticketing were the main attractions for the job, some of the candidates attributed it to aggressive campaigning and motivation by GSRTC staff in their native areas.
"GSRTC employees in our area motivated women in the neighbourhood and even relatives to apply for the job," said Manali Soni from Himmatnagar in Sabarkantha, which sent the highest number (62) of women conductors. Mehsana followed with 22.