Ahmedabad has plenty of auto drivers, just like every other city in India. Auto drivers, who have their own fascinating stories to tell while making the journey a sweeter, more memorable one. But blessed will you be if you ever come across Ankita Shah, Ahmedabad’s first differently-abled female auto driver. Losing her leg to polio at a young age didn’t deter her spirits. Doing odd jobs and getting rejected in interviews for her disability never hindered her spirit. You’d know by now that Ankita Shah is not your ordinary auto rickshaw driver. This BA in Economics graduate has a lot of determination and confidence up her sleeve. This is her journey on fighting all odds to become the first-ever differently-abled female auto driver in the city.
Losing Her Right Leg To Polio
Talking to The Better India, Ankita Shah stated “I was just a year old when I lost my right leg to Polio. It had to be amputated. I was lucky to be encouraged by my family to complete my Bachelor’s degree in Economics and make something of myself. The world, in general, wasn’t as encouraging.” Ankita in 2009, migrated from her hometown in Palitana to Ahmedabad to search for employment. While searching for jobs, Ankita faced multiple rejections because she wasn’t fluent in English, came from a small town but most importantly due to her prosthetic limb.
Inspiration To Work On Her Own Terms
As the eldest child in her family of seven, she had a lot of responsibilities on her shoulders. Eventually, Ankita found small jobs in a call centre, a real estate firm and as a housekeeper in hotels. She juggled multiple jobs that did not do justice to her qualification. Yet she gained confidence through these to take control of her own life. In 2019, Ankita faced a huge challenge in her life when her father was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. This tragic situation forced her to reevaluate her life and career. She needed a flexible job that could help her earn money on her own terms. And also give her enough time to take care of her family. And that was when she became the first-ever differently-abled female auto-rickshaw driver in Ahmedabad.
Learning To Drive An Auto Rickshaw & Supporting Her Family
Lalji Barot, a differently-abled auto-rickshaw driver and a friend of Ankita’s helped her to master the three-wheeler. Thanks to Laljit, Ankit got a customised auto with hand-operated brakes. The determined woman ferries people from 10:30 in the morning till 8:30 at night daily. She drives the auto on her own terms and infact earns double the amount that she earned in her previous jobs. To increase her earnings further, Ankita also joined a cab aggregator platform. Today, Ankita earns around ₹25,000 per month.
An Inspiration To Women & The Differently Abled
Ankita Shah inspires everyone with her incredible story. Ever since she started driving an autorickshaw, she became the primary breadwinner of her family. Her father’s health improved with her grit and financial support. And with her family’s support, she is truly stronger than ever. She is truly her biggest strength. And Ankita hopes her story shall inspire both women and the differently-abled. She stated to The Better India, “All of us have the strength to fight. It’s hidden inside of us. We just need courage and determination to ignite this strength.”