Source: News Bharati English15 Apr 2017 16:30:48

Mumbai, April 15: Government scheme that reserves 5% of rickshaw permits for women is aimed at empowering them. Nineteen women recently started driving auto rickshaws becoming Mumbai's first female drivers. One of the drivers said "I'm independent and it makes me happy".The first batch of female auto drivers started their work today in Mumbai as part of a government scheme aimed at empowering them, the more interesting part in the women drivers are graduates or post-graduates in arts and commerce streams.

The state government of Maharashtra's scheme introduced by the state government of Maharashtra states 5% of rickshaw permits are reserved for women. 465 licenses were provided to women in Mumbai and Thane, after an announcement of the plan in 2016. the similar schemes are there in New Delhi and Ranchi where pink colored autos are seen on roads driven by women as part of a safety initiative but these Maharashtra drivers take both male and female passengers.

19 female auto drivers reportedly started their job of transporting passengers through the jammed streets of India’s financial capital in their new three-wheelers. Notably, rickshaw permits are highly sought after in Mumbai and can be big business.

A driver claimed that women felt driving auto is much better than doing household work as they can make more money and it’ll help them secure their future. These new drivers who will sport white lab-coat-like uniforms are the first to ply the streets of India’s most populated metropolis.

Rickshaw permits are highly sought after in Mumbai and can be big business, with owners often renting them out for a fee or lending them to others when their shift has finished. The women’s instructor, Sudhir Dhoipode said “I’ve taught them the A to Z of auto-rickshaw driving. They are now experts and have passed an official RTO (Regional Transport Office) test”. Adding to his point he said currently teaching more than 40 women how to drive while around 500 others have expressed an interest in learning despite some community opposition in the conservative country.

Anita Kardak, one of the driver said “People mocked us for leaving our homes and choosing to drive rickshaws but we hope we can inspire other women to come forward and take advantage of this great initiative”.