The ancient Indian reference of “Vedic Period” talks about the gender equality and refers to a lot of freedom enjoyed by women. From education, getting married at a mature age, freedom to select their husbands, to “Rig Veda” and “Upanishads” highlighting notable sage like- Gargi and Maitreyi. But in 6th century BC, the decline of women started which gets reflected in the form of – Sati, Purdah, and Devdasi rituals. But today’s Indian women are surging ahead in all fields and her participation in social life has transformed the society. The picture of Indian women as – elegant, graceful, fragile, subdued has changed to lively, strong, determined, self-righteous, still feminine.
From the “First Female Ruler” of Delhi in 1236 AD – Razia Sultan to the “First Woman Truck Mechanic” – Shanti Devi women in India are moving hand in hand with men. Originally from Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh Shanti Devi now resides at Delhi, in a “50 Gaj” house made by her and her husband. Along with her husband – Ram Bahadur she works at Sanjay Gandhi Transport Nagar Depot as a truck mechanic.
They also have a small tea stall. Both in their mid fifty have started a tea stall for their livelihood. Unable to meet ends, Ram started working as a truck mechanic, repairing tyres, changing tyres and fixing punctures. This is Shanti Devi’s second marriage and they have eight children. To feed the family she joined the works of repairing and fixing tyres. She did not take any formal training on this but just by seeing her husband and other workers learned all this.
On the first instance she seems to be a saree clad, simple village woman, but when she starts operating with heavy tools and tyres weighing almost 50kg, it seems that she is a specialist in it. When she started this “man dominated” job nobody believed that she will be able to continue. After so many years, and so much media attention now, she’s been taken seriously and their workshop gets good customers.
She claims that her husband is very friendly with her and they work cordially to earn their family’s livelihood. Though she has a feminine heart, she loves wearing Saree and matching blouse, glass bangles and loves to put nail polish as well, but she is a tough lady and has that mettle. This toughness has given her the name and fame and off course added the source of income.
A lot of women in India from recent past and even today have broken the stereotype image of Indian women and has made their mark. Though with initial resistance, from their families, friends, and society these women have proved, that gender cannot decide the characteristics of someone.
Females like Shanti Devi are an inspiration and are the “torch bearers”. They tell us that anything and everything is possible irrespective of gender. Society has to accept this fact and, as individuals, one need to take this responsibility to make a change.
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