DRIVING BEYOND LIMITS: Indore's Devkanya Pandey Breaks Barriers As Differently Abled Female E-Rickshaw Driver

DRIVING BEYOND LIMITS: Indore's Devkanya Pandey Breaks Barriers As Differently Abled Female E-Rickshaw Driver

The 35-year-old woman becomes one of the first 'divyang' females to obtain a licence for driving an e-rickshaw under the Mukhyamntri Swarojgar Yojana

Narayani Upadhyay Anushka BhardwajUpdated: Saturday, June 01, 2024, 01:43 AM IST
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Indore (Madhya Pradesh): 'Kaun kahata hai aasamaan mein suraakh nahin ho sakata, ek patthar to tabeeyat se uchhaalo yaaron,' wrote the renowned poet Dushyant Kumar. Devkanya Pandey, a divyang e-rickshaw driver from the city, has taken this powerful phrase to heart and proven it true.

In a society where challenges often seem insurmountable, Devkanya Pandey's unbeatable spirit and unwavering determination stand as living proof of the boundless possibilities that arise when one dares to dream and persevere. Through her inspiring journey, she has shown that even the greatest obstacles can be overcome, leaving a mark as significant as a hole in the sky.

Devkanya Pandey, 35, is a physically challenged woman who lost her legs when she was just five due to medical negligence. However, she has not let her disability define her. She proudly drives an e-rickshaw, supporting her family and becoming one of the first 'divyang' females to obtain a licence for driving an e-rickshaw under the Mukhyamntri Swarojgar Yojana.

Narrating her journey story, Devkanya with a broad smile on her face, said that her journey towards independence began at the age of 5, when she was mistakenly given the wrong medication for fever, leading to damage to both her legs.

After her father's demise, she took on the responsibility of supporting her mother, two sisters, and a brother. Despite facing financial hardships, she strived to be independent, selling food items on a handcycle. Unable to continue her education beyond the 8th standard, her desire for independence drove her towards success.

In 2020, Indore saw a significant improvement in its public transport system with the introduction of over 70 Mahindra Treo electric three-wheeler rickshaws under the Mukhya Mantri Rojgar Yojana. Devkanya began driving in 2018 and was among the first to be selected for the driving training programme launched by the government and later obtained her e-rickshaw licence in her first attempt. Her efforts were recognised when she drove then CM Kamal Nath in her rickshaw.

Despite facing challenges such as increased competition and rising battery costs, Devkanya remains determined. She starts her day after finishing household chores, driving from 10-2 PM and then again from 5-7:30 PM. She faces discrimination from some customers who doubt her abilities as a female driver in a male-dominated field. However, she responds confidently, emphasising that women can achieve anything.

Financially, her family struggles with expenses and inflation, making a monthly profit of around Rs 5,000 to 6,000. Despite this, Devkanya remains positive, dreaming of a better future for her children. She advises other women to be self-reliant and earn their livelihoods without depending on others.

Devkanya's story is a true tale of determination and resilience. Working as an e-rickshaw driver has provided her with a secure means of earning a living and symbolises her journey towards independence and empowerment. She calls for stricter regulations to prevent drivers from drinking and driving and for greater support for differently abled individuals and women in male-dominated professions. She is a true inspiration, proving that disabilities do not make someone dependent.

In her words, "Hum kisike mohtaaj nahi" (We are not dependent on anyone).

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