Sarita Pandey and her incredible journey to become the first female auto-rickshaw driver of Patna

Dreams are beautiful but what make those beautiful dreams a reality are the determination and hard work which might not seem as pleasant as dreaming. As Eleanor Roosevelt said, “the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dream”. The journey of Sarita Pandey is a living example of the aforementioned quote. Since her childhood, she has this dream of doing something different and unique. But she was not sure what is it going to be? Her father was in government service and for a very long time she lived outside Bihar. When she was only 13 years old, she got married but she continued to live with her paternal family. After five years of her marriage, she moved to live with her husband in Dhanbad. 

In 2008, she and her husband came back to her home state, Bihar as her father was also transferred back to the state. Her desire to do something different was still persisting. Her family owned an auto, which was mostly driven by a hired driver and sometimes by her husband. At that time she was a private school teacher, where she used to earn ₹3000 per month which, she felt, was not sufficient to handle family’s expenditure. It was then when she got this idea to learn driving and drive the auto-rickshaw by herself. But now the question was, how? Driving an auto-rickshaw in Patna while being a woman was not going to be an easy career choice. But she was bold, brave and determined with her decision. She started learning auto-rickshaw by herself. Impressed with her dedication and commitment, many people from auto-rickshaw union came forward to help her, taught her driving and commended her for her bold move.


“Many a time I feel weak, but then someone or other gives me an appreciation for my work, and that keeps me going”, Sarita Pandey said.

 She learned driving, got her license and hit the roads of Patna to commence her journey. It was 15th August 2013 when she started her life as an auto-rickshaw driver. There couldn’t have been more fitting occasion for her to start this journey than the Independence Day of India. This news got spread like a fire. Many of the newspapers covered it. And the after-effect of it was that women who wanted to come out of their home and do the auto-rickshaw driving as their profession, now had a motivation and an example to look up to. To name a few, Gudiya, Kanchan Kumari, Pinki Kumari are some of the early women who took up auto-rickshaw driving as their profession.

 Sarita Pandey became a great example of Women Empowerment. She taught many other women drivers to drive auto-rickshaw. According to her, by the year 2016, she had taught around 150 drivers. She also got appreciation and recognition for her effort to empower women by our Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and the then Patna DM Sanjay Kumar., who not just supported Sarita Pandey but promised her and other fellow women drivers, support from the government and loan-free autos. 


Like we say no journey is complete without obstacles. Even she has, not one but many. Like her father and her brother stopped talking to her for at least a month. While many of male-drivers supported her for her effort, there were people who were not happy with a woman doing something which is always considered as a man’s job. Third and a very big hurdle for not just Sarita Pandey but for all the lady auto-drivers were the unfulfillment of promises made by the government. These women were promised to be given loan free autos, road permits, and separate auto stand for lady drivers, but none of this came to reality. This was the reason that among those 150 drivers who learned driving and got a license, only 8-10 among them hit the road, rest just went back to their home and waited for an auto and a road permit. 


I had trained 150 women, who got their license. But because of no bank loan and road permit, after all this, they are just sitting in their homes. I fill ditched” – Sarita Pandey said.



Overcoming all these hurdles, Sarita Pandey still continues to drive auto. A mother of two, she says “that I must thank my daughter and my husband who always got my back. As I get back to the house, there are a lot of household works but my daughter is always there to share my work. In the starting when I was criticized by many for my work, even my daughter complained that she feels embarrassed as people say to her that your mother drives auto. But when I show her the appreciation and recommendation that I got because of this, now they too are proud of me.” 

We at Patnabeats, salute her for her bold step. We wish her a happy life ahead and hope that government hear her grievances and her fight for all those women driver ends at a good note. She is a true example of women empowerment and we wish to see more like that in future in our state Bihar. We are proud of you Sarita Pandey.


Photos by: Bashshar Habibullah

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Quote of the day:“Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

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