How this 24-year-old woman entrepreneur is creating awareness about road safety in Indore
Young women managing traffic is still a rare sight in India, but Shubhi Jain, a resident of Indore, is intent on changing this image. Shubhi is not only a traffic warden in Indore, but she also uses unique ways to control the traffic.
“When I joined as a traffic volunteer, I observed that when we stopped people and told them to follow the rules, they looked irritated. So, I decided that when I speak with someone, they shouldn’t make a bad impression of me. I did it by thanking people who are already following the rules. People found it surprising that someone is thanking them for the things they are doing for their own safety, and a smile is contagious,” she tells HerStory.
Becoming a traffic volunteer
An MBA graduate from Symbiosis, Pune, Shubhi started volunteering with the Indore traffic police as part of a 20-day social internship programme in her college in 2019. Indore police was running a volunteering programme with college students for traffic rules and management awareness. She joined the traffic management team along with 1,800 students.
While the internship duration ended, Shubhi stuck to her volunteering duty. Donning a traffic volunteer jacket, the 24-year-old can be seen breaking into dance moves while she is at the traffic signal to raise awareness about traffic rules. The videos of her dancing have already gone viral on social media.
“I joined it for a purpose and I fell in love with the social cause of road safety. There is no monetary gain in it for me, but I still continue to volunteer and I will be for as long as I can,” she says.
After one month of volunteering, she went back to Pune to complete her studies, but then the lockdown was imposed and she had to go back to her hometown in Bina, Sagar district in MP.
Once the lockdown was lifted, she returned to Indore in December 2020 and has been a traffic warden ever since. She started volunteering at Vijay Nagar square for six months and currently one can find her policing traffic at the Indraprastha square of Indore.
“Though I am a volunteer, my energy is no less than a cop. I still can’t obviously compare myself to them because they perform their duty for 12 hours and I do it for just 2.5 hours - from 6 pm to 8.30 pm every day. The cops have my respect for the hours they put into this rigorous job,” she shares.
Public spaces tend to be unsafe for women, but Shubhi says she doesn’t face any challenges there. “The department supports me a lot and there is always a sub-inspector and two constables available at all times who are aware of my presence. They keep a watch over me and there are people watching the roads from control-rooms too, so safety is not an issue for me,” Shubhi says.
But she adds that the job is physically very strenuous. “One needs to run, speak, and whistle among many other things. Whistling itself requires so much energy when one has to do it continuously. Squares are infamous for being places with a lot of pollution, so that is another challenge. While I do it in the evening, I don’t have to face the afternoon sun, which can be very harsh for the traffic police to be out and about during the burning summer weather,” she says.
Shubhi with Indore traffic police
Shubhi has been an athlete all her life playing volleyball and kho-kho at national level championships during her school and college life, so she believes she always had the strength to be a traffic volunteer.
More than a traffic warden
Beyond being a traffic warden, Shubhi founded her startup Maatiwala – a one-stop shop for all gardening requirements at homes where one can book a gardener online – in January 2021.
“I have always felt a deeper connection with plants and nature and so I wanted to do something in this space. I’ve set it up in Indore and it’s doing well so far. One can get all the gardening services and products from our website,” says Shubhi.
Shubhi Jain, founder, Maatiwala
She currently has five gardeners in her team, whom she has called from her town. “I feel happy that they are now living in the city along with their family and this work has helped them raise their standard of living.”
A traffic warden in the evening, an entrepreneur during the day, but Shubhi’s mornings begin as a radio jockey with Radio Mirchi. It has been three months since she joined Radio Mirchi and now she has a radio show of her own, Hi Indore. If someone is truly following the phrase ‘follow your heart’, then it has to be Shubhi.