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On the Right Track

Mumbai’s motorwoman Mumtaz Kazi speaks to Prachi Parekh about being one of the few woman train drivers in India

Motor woman
Mumtaz Kazi (38)

What inspired you to become a train driver?
My father was a Trunk Superintendent of Western Railway. Hence, my entire childhood was spent in railway quarters, watching the trains go by. I wanted to be the one to drive them. In 1988, there was an ad for an assistant driver, which mentioned that it’s a hard profession for women.
I was unfazed by that claim and immediately applied. Soon I got a call letter asking me to take the required exams. I even finished my D.M.L.T course side by side. I joined Indian Railways as an assistant driver on
10th September, 1991.

Are you looked down upon by men colleagues?
Not at all. All my colleagues are very helpful and supportive. I call my seniors ‘kaka’ and have established a strong bond with them. Right from the time I joined, I have never felt alone.

Did your family support you?
My father was initially against the idea, but I convinced him to let me give the exams. When I passed those exams with flying colours, one of my father’s friends and former in-charge, Mr. R.V. Raikar convinced him to let me pursue this profession. A lot of other people too supported me and he finally gave me his consent.

Do you have any daughters? Will you encourage them to follow your footsteps?
My daughter is only 3 years old! But I will support her in whatever career she chooses.

Were you taken seriously enough when you first joined?
Yes. Being a woman never came into the way of being assigned responsibilities on the job.

Tell us about your professional journey.
I joined as a diesel assistant driver in 1991 and was made electric assistant driver in 1994. In 1997, I was made a shunter and then proceeded to become a loco pilot for goods in 2001. In 2005, I was promoted to the post of a motorman, for which I had to undergo training and give an exam. Currently, I ply on the Central and Harbour lines. My name has been published in Limca Book of Records for two consecutive years as the first woman to become a diesel engine train
driver along with being an electric engine train driver.

What will you tell girls who want to get into this profession?
It’s a good profession and they should join if they are truly interested. We are there to guide new comers.

Who is your role model?
Kiran Bedi. I met her in 1994 at Lion’s Club of Cuffe Parade function, where she had appreciated my efforts and offered her support.

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