If you are a resident of West Delhi and use e-rickshaws to get home, chances are you would have met Sudha Gupta. The 50-year-old “rickshawali” is one of the very few women e-rickshaw drivers in Delhi and one of the only two women stationed at Uttam Nagar. Her quirks remind one of Sholay’s Basanti. She is talkative and full of life. Her dark red lipstick and colourful goggles makes it easier for commuters to remember her. A college dropout, she supports a family of three with her meager earning of Rs. 12,000 per month.
Dealing with irrational customers and pedestrians, who end up damaging her vehicle, are the daily struggles of her life. “Men often hit our e-rickshaws and run away. Also, parking our rickshaws is also a huge task. We end up paying Rs 100 for just parking our rickshaws.” But these trivial struggles don’t bother Gupta so much, as do the prying eyes of neighbours, sexist comments of male rickshaw pullers and the disapproval of her son. “My son doesn’t live with me. He doesn’t like the fact that I ride rickshaws,” she says.
She wants the government to provide free parking facilities for women drivers. Slowly, she is trying to build a community of women e-rickshaw drivers.
Here’s her story.