Women’s Day: Why this qualified lawyer became India’s first woman truck driver
Yogita Raghuvanshi is well-known as India’s first woman truck driver. A qualified lawyer, she preferred the tough life on the highways to look after her family.
Her story is one of grit, determination and resilience. Yogita grew up in Nandurbar in Maharashtra with four siblings, earning degrees in Commerce and Law. She was happy being a wife and a mother when her husband encouraged her to study law. When her husband died 16 years ago, she preferred to rough it out on the road than practice law.
Yogita’s explanation is practical. She says, “If I had opted to be a junior to some lawyer and enter the legal profession, I would have got only a pittance for the many initial years. But I learnt that driving trucks meant instant wages and greater stability. In a country that is developing at such a rapid pace, there will always be work for a truck driver.”
Her children, Yashika and Yashwin were young, and she had to support her family. “We had employed a driver, but I was making losses because of that. So, I decided to take the matters in my own hands, changed the course of my life from losses to profitability and realised that Great Things Happen When You Move.”
Strength of a woman
Yogita is alluding to Shell India’ Great Things Happen When You Move campaign that she is a part of. The campaign celebrates the indomitable spirit of Indians, their dreams, and aspirations along with their inspiring journey.
Yogita’s first trip was from Bhopal to Ahmedabad. “It was new for me, but I was prepared for it. I trusted my instincts and my confidence. I didn’t even know the roads or which road leads to which highway. I kept asking people for directions and kept moving ahead towards my destination,” she says.
Yogita is far from the archetypal inter-state trucker. She says she never considers a challenge as a challenge.
“I had made up my mind that I just want to move forward with my life and do this for myself and my family. I kept moving forward, breaking all barriers and here I am today. Everything is possible once you start, and you can fulfill all your aspirations when you believe this,” she adds.
Also, she never pays much attention to people’s comments.
“I love what I do but shuttling between cities across the country with my truck had its inevitable load of problems. Nobody believes that I drive trucks – whether then or now. They assume that I am the driver’s woman. Mechanics on the highway, men at dhabas and elsewhere leer at me, but when they see me at the wheel, their look changes dramatically. But none of this bothers me, it never did,” she says.
She admits she took the whole experience pragmatically, and believes she got the same treatment as a woman would get when she tried to challenge the archetypal gender roles of the society. However, she chose to ignore them and move ahead.
While there may not be many women on the road, Yogita says it’s heartening that they are coming forward and taking up this job.
“All I want to tell them is that one must have self-belief and must not succumb to what the world perceives about them. If we want, we can do anything and break social stereotypes. I feel extremely powerful behind this wheel and I am proud to have taken up a job that is remotely associated with women. I love to take challenges head on every day in my field of work, and this gives me a lot of confidence,” she says.
While driving by villages, Yogita says she sees children waiting outside the locked gates of schools that have stopped functioning.
“It is a despairing sight. I plan to teach these children when I am done with trucking,” she adds.