Mrunal Manmay Dash

It would be an understatement to say that women are increasingly making their presence felt in male-dominated jobs. In fact, there is no place, where women are not present today. Even the Indian armed forces have begun inducting them in combat positions.

However, being said so; it can still be called ‘breaking stereotypes’ when a girl from a nondescript town of Odisha becomes a Train Manager of goods carriages. While women nowadays can be seen piloting trains, being a Train Manager involves guarding the goods train by staying in the guard van at the end of it.

A man in white trousers and a shirt with a cap standing on the last coach of trains and waving a green flag is a common sight for people who have seen goods train pass. But now, if you see a girl standing in place of a man, then don’t get surprised. Because she would be Sasmita Sarkar from Nabarangpur in Odisha, who is posted at Khordha Road Railway Division as a Goods Train Manager.

She completed her schooling from Jawahar Navoday Vidyalaya at Khatiguda in Nabarangpur. After school, she joined VSSUT Burla to pursue her engineering degree in computer science. Then she moved to Bhubaneswar in 2014, but there were a very few jobs in the software sector at that time in Bhubaneswar. So, she concentrated on competitive examinations. She appeared for the RRB exams in 2015 and got selected in 2019. She was posted at Khordha Road as a train manager.

When OTV caught up with her, she was dressed in whites, waiting to board her train. Speaking about her duty, she said, “My duty is a bit different from other jobs. We do not have normal duty hours of 10 to 6. Our duty hours depend on the trains we are ordered to manage. However, because I am a female, the authorities at Khordha Road allot me duty as early as 6 in the morning. While that’s good for me given that I can finish my duty by sunset, it has a catch. To allot duties the authorities need to inform you 2.5 hours before. So if I have a train at 6am to catch, I will receive a duty call at 3:30am leaving my sleep interrupted.”

“Though I have become habituated to the challenges my job entails, at times it becomes difficult too. There are some days when the train has to stop midway due to track maintenance or any mishaps and road blockades. At times the train has to stop in deserted areas or jungles where I have to battle the fear of miscreants robbing me or attacking me,” she said.

However, despite all the hardships that the job brings with it, when somebody asks her how she manages a goods train, it brings an instant chuckle to her face making her think about the different path she chose to march along.