BY GORKY BAKSHI
BY GORKY BAKSHI
Sushma Varma’s Bio-
About Sushma Varma
BY GORKY BAKSHI
A perfect example of gender equality lies in Delhi at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar, which is Asia’s largest truck workshop area. This is the place where Shanti Devi can be seen repairing worn out tyres and broken trucks.
It is believed that she is the first woman truck mechanic in the country, who runs a tea shop and also an automobile workshop. She has been working here for more than 20 years and has now become a milestone for many. People get surprised to see her work in a field which is essentially a male bastion.
How she started
Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar is spread across the area which is more than 75 acres and is reportedly the largest trucking stopover point in Asia. This is a place where over 70,000 trucks can be parked at one time and around 20,000 trucks pass by every day. Here, the husband-wife duo started their business with a tea shop. Shanti Devi said: “Earlier it was just a tea shop for the truckers.
Later we realised that the earning from the small shop was not enough to serve a family of six.” “So, we started an automobile shop which turned out to be perfect for this place. We were new among thousands of other mechanics, but steadily we made our recognition and started to repair trucks.”
“Initially, people would stare at me, and wondering what I was doing in this stereotypically masculine profession, but things soon changed. Now, we can see other women, assisting their husband in this repairing job.” How she learned everything about automobile and vehicle repair? She says: “My husband used to repair trucks, while I would be at tea shop every day.”
“So, I learnt about repairing of trucks by watching my husband and other mechanics.” She believes that a woman can do any job if she has a passion for one. “Regular practice and efforts helped me gain confidence and today I am known to be a better mechanic than many other male mechanics in Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar,” Santi Devi explained.
She can now lift a 50 kg truck tyre in one go and repair 10-15 punctures everyday. With her skills and hard work, she managed to raise four kids who are now settled in different states in India. She was also invited in many schools and colleges to deliver motivational speeches.
Today her age is 56, but she has a determination in her heart to prove herself. She is inspiration for every woman. She was born in a very poor family in Madhya Pradesh where she was married to a labourer. Shanti and her husband, left Madhya Pradesh and did various odd jobs in the last 40 years. They have experienced tough days when they would sleep hungry many times.
“I feel myself proud when people call me first female truck mechanic of country. No, I don’t shy but I feel that other women also should learn from challenges.”
Shanti Devi is proficient in her job but several drivers show their hesitation to trust her with work. “When I ask drivers to let me repair their truck they do not easily trust me. However, when they look at my work, their trust is restored in me.
” She explains: “When they see that I am capable at lifting and moving heavy tyres on my own, it reassures them. I have earned their respect and have developed a healthy relationship with most of our regular customers through my hard work.” Shanti Devi had a dream to be an independent worker. “We want to open a workshop with our own shop.
Today we are running workshop work from a shanty but we are dreaming of a concrete made shop where people can come and sit while their vehicles were being repaired.” Best part is, she doesn’t want to leave this work even in her own concrete workshop.
BY GORKY BAKSHI
People with special needs should be integrated with the society and should not be discriminated. Such people need special care and a lot of emotional support. We know this, but what the society needs to know is that they are different, but with support they can perform much better than any of us.
Nobel winner physicist Stephen Hawkins is one such person, who has been an inspiration to many. Children with autistic and mental disabilities participate in games, marathons and other activities all over the world, because they get support from the society.
People with disabilities are capable in all walks of life, but in India most of them have been deprived of opportunities. They can do the routine work without any help, if only the society and the government offers them more facilities.
Sambhav is one of the NGO that makes the life of disabled people a lot easier, by creating a supportive environment. In charge of Green Park branch, Ms. Manuja informs: “Disabled people should have equal human rights and fundamental freedoms. Persons with disabilities continue to face constraints, which hinders their participation in the society. Through Sambhav we are trying to provide inclusion for their full and effective participation as equal members of society.”
Sambhav gives the concept of a ‘reasonable accommodation’ for the disabled – who are either physically, mentally, or visually challenged. The NGO emphasizes on the designs of products, domestic environment, services that should be usable by all. Reasonable accommodation means necessary and appropriate modifications and adjustments within the house, to provide more comfort.
Sambhav offers ways in which the principles of universal design (usable for all) can be applied in different areas of life, such as communication (enhancing listening, understanding and alternative modes of communication), learning, (play, teaching, self learning), movements (transfer, walking with support, mobility and outdoor travelling), leisure and life (for well being, safety, eating, work, rest, self care etc.)
All human beings need to carry out household tasks like preparing meals, washing cloths, caring for household etc. Sambhav provides all the necessary things such as adjustable dining chairs, spoons, almira, utensils, bed, lights and everything. As it is a concept home one can find everything unique, which is designed in a way that disabled people can use it smoothly.
From user-friendly entrance to adjustable accommodation everything is universal. Sambhav showcases comfortable room that has low height bed with alarm button on the sides. Bed can be supported with sitting platform. It is valuable for those who cannot sit without any back support.
It also offers support for wheelchair. The almirah have special cases for equipments such as wheelchair space, pulling bars (one can pull out the bars from it), money bag etc. Bathroom has special features like light showers, low height seats, alarm buttons, handles and bars in bathroom etc.
Communication difficulties can lead to social and educational isolation and it can obstruct the growth of human being. Sambhav provides writing and typing facilities through tactile devices, Braille devices, spelling devices, word prediction software, modified typewriters, modified keyboards etc.
Ms. Manuja informs: “For example Foot pedal keyboard, it is a three button programmable keyboard. It lets the feet type anything through the pedal keyboard.
It also has a mouse, which can be clicked through the feet.” “Key actions such as shift, enter and space can be managed with three-foot pedal clicks. Scanning and reading software, it is a scanning and reading machine to enable the blind and low vision students to read the books independently. One can prepare notes, send emails, convert word books into audio files.”
Grab rails can be used in various situations to improve the access. They have powder coated rails for a homely look and also have stainless made for maximum life span. There are large variety of supports available to assist people to move around comfortably and enjoy their daily life.
Wheelchairs such as self propelling, specialized, paediatric and motorized wheelchairs, which are made available for those who cannot move while eating aids and reading aids in the form of shoe horns to gripping aids and lots more is available in Sambhav.
Sambhav House Number – 2, Balbir Saxena Marg, Green Park, New Delhi Phone number: 011-26966331
We were looking for emergency medical help. But, unfortunately, we couldn’t manage to take her to the hospital located 45 kilometers ahead of our village. I was shattered and felt worthless. But soon after I decided that this tragedy happened to me but it shouldn’t happen to anyone else in my village.” After saving money for a few months he purchased a bike and started a new phase in his life.
He has been ferrying patients since 2013. Among the many other remote areas in the Malbazar region, Dhalabari village is only among many others that have benefitted from him in their medical crisis. “To date more than 3000 people from nearby 20 villages have called me for this service.
Despite lack of enough money I am able to bear the cost of fuel and other repairs. I am doing this in memory of mother so that God grant her a place in heaven,” said Karimul Haque.
He feels that if one has courage and determination anything is possible. The biggest challenge he feels is spreading the word among nearby villagers. But there is a need for medical facilities.
“People used to laugh at me when I started carrying patients on my bike. I have written bike ambulance at the front of my bike. I have also got permission to use a blue blinking light.
I am slowly getting a place in the hearts of people. That is what I want.” He explained further, “Apart from my bike, basic medical facilities should be made available in nearby villages. It is not possible for each and everyone to purchase a vehicle.
The poor people of these villages have to depend on government or other facilities.” He has sent several applications and met various government officers to have some medical facilities in his area. But no one is paying any serious attention to his efforts.
Karimul Haque past history & Bio-
He has two sons and two daughters. Both the daughters are married and his two sons are working as mobile mechanics. His family members are quite supportive in his work.
Asked why he doesn’t purchase a car for a better service, he explained, “This region has a difficult terrain where traveling by car is not possible every time. Also, bike ambulance has become popular and now people easily recognize me so I don’t want to switch.
Karimul Haque Address-
Contact for Bike-Ambulance, Karimul Haque: Village: Dhalabari, Police Station: Malbazar, District: Jalpaiguri, Phone: +91 9832571833
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