Shanti Devi: India's first female truck mechanic


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.

Her strength

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.

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