Parvati Arya, Asia’s first women truck driver whose name had also been in the Guinness Book of world records, passed away on Wednesday.
The 75-year-old hailed from Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh and took the town by storm by becoming a truck driver when leaving home alone was a big achievement for women at that point. She secured a driving license and became the first woman truck driver in Asia in 1978.
She was the eldest among her 11 siblings – seven sisters and four brothers. Born in a family that was knee-deep in poverty, Parvati was always averse to feminine tasks in a traditional family. She also had little to do with her studies.
Member of the Raigar (SC) community, her father used to run a timber business, sourcing and selling firewood in Mandsaur. After the death of her father, she took up the responsibility to take care of her siblings. “I did not want to depend on a driver so I myself learnt driving heavy vehicles,” she had told The Times of India in an interview.
She had mentioned that convincing the officials at the RTO for a license was more difficult than learning to drive. “Though he refused to give me a heavy vehicle’s license since I’m a woman, there was no rule to reject my application. So, I told him that if Indira Gandhi can run the nation, why can’t I drive a truck.”
Indira Gandhi was the prime minister of the country at that time. Parvati also contested assembly elections in 1990 but lost. During her tenure in Zila Panchayat, she constructed school buildings, Panchayat Bhawan, and roads.
On being asked whether she experienced difficulty being in a male-dominated field, Parvati mentioned she always minded her own business.