Like most people, I am used to jumping into a cab in almost every part of the world and I expect a male cab driver to be taking me around. However, on a trip back from Mumbai, I noticed a cab service right outside the airport that looked like any other taxi service in Mumbai except that the driver was a woman donned in a smart pink uniform! Later, I read about the remarkable story of Priyadarshini Taxi Cab service.
Looks like it all started with Susieben Shah’s determination to look at Indian women’s empowerment beyond the traditional achar, masala and papad-making ventures. Her ideas were in sync with need of a city; she cleverly masterminded the concept to train women to be self-reliant. The lady drivers, some 20 or so, hail from lower middle class families. So what is so different about Priyadarshini? The cab convoy, the director, the staff, the shareholders, and the call center personnel – it’s an all women-show!
The women drivers are trained in car maintenance and informed about tourist spots in Mumbai to serve as a driver-cum-guide; equipped with first-aid skills to handle emergencies and trained in self-defense techniques! Apart from these essential skills, they undertake a crash course on communications skills, basic accounting, good manners and hygiene, along with yoga and meditation to handle stress.
Given the growth of BPO and IT industry and young women having to go to work late at night and come back at odd hours, I see all-women taxi cabs as a welcome choice for the companies who employ these young women as well as a big comfort for their parents. I hope this concept spreads across to different metros, given that Indian women are really on the MOVE.