By Ashadeep Mohanty
Bhubaneswar: Tarulata Nayak (37) comes all the way from her village Manijangapatna under Nimapada block in Puri district to the shining capital city early every morning to join her duty as a bus conductor in the Dream Team Sahara (DTS).
Wearing the blue DTS uniform on her Saree and holding a ticket machine, she steps into the bus to start her duty and works till 8 pm before returning home.
Separated from her husband, Tarulata’s life revolves around her parents and two sons. With her father being a farmer, the family mainly depends on her monthly salary of Rs 6,000 which she gets for her 25 days of duty in the DTS. Tarulata, who joined the DTS in 2013, has been into mushroom cultivation since last five years.
A graduate in English Honours from the Nimapara College, Tarulata was offered a job in post office at Chilika and later a contractual staff in the Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya at Konark. But her wish to do something unconventional brought her this manly job in the capital city.
Like Tarulata, Sabita Pradhan (36), a resident of Durgapur in Khurda district, also works as a conductor in DTS bus. To support her husband, who works as a driver for a courier service company, she joined the DTS in August 2014. Besides working for 10-12 hours a day in this unconventional filed, Sabita also gives time to her family members. She has a 15-year-old daughter and mother-in-law.
Breaking the stereotypes by taking up this unconventional profession, these women have redefined the male-dominated career options. Not only that, they also stand as inspiration for all the women facing various difficulties in the male-dominated society. The entry of these women into this profession has also drastically reduced the level of abuse of male conductors in the buses by unscrupulous and rowdy commuters.
Satyapriya Mohanty, a driver of DTS bus, said, “Some passengers, particularly on Puri-Bhubaneswar route, used to abuse and sometimes even assault the conductors. Now that lady conductors are on duty for the route, the unruly commuters will not dare to abuse them. These ladies ensure that a strict discipline is maintained in the buses.”
Considering the above, steps should be taken to bring more and more women into this profession so that they can not only support their family but also create their own identity.
When asked, DTS CEO Sudhansu Jena said even as many youths in the state are unemployed, they are not keen on making their career in public transport system as they consider it as an inferior job.
“In case of women joining this profession, four to five women have so far been working as conductors in the DTS buses for the last 2-3 years. These lady conductors mainly operate on Nandankanan-Airport, KIIT-Master Canteen and Bhubaneswar-Puri routes”, Jena said.
He further said the DTS provides ample scope for women to join as conductor. “All DTS staffs are entitled to a number of facilities like EPF, ESI, ODA, daily fooding, etc. We are ready to induct as many women as conductors. But it is up to them to decide. I welcome all women and girls who want to join this profession”, he added.
Jena further stressed that the state government should undertake skill development programme for various jobs in the public transport system to encourage more number of people, including women to pursue their career in this field. The government should impart training to people, who are interested for posts like driver, conductor, managerial and maintenance staff and workshop worker, he pointed out.
BMC Mayor Ananta Narayan Jena said, “In view of the Smart City, we are going to strengthen the public transport system by introducing around 400 DTS buses in the coming days. We would definitely give priority on women. Besides, plans are afoot to run the buses in which women would be engaged as driver, conductor and helper. We have also formed a 10-member team to provide skill-based trainings on various disciplines, including the public transport system, to interested people under the National Urban Livelihood Mission (NULM)”.