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Himachal’s first HRTC woman bus driver and conductor leapfrog gender stereotypes



HRTC Female Staff

Seema Thakur, 28, breaks several stereotypes; though trained to be a bus driver, HRTC has given her a taxi route for now in Shimla, Leena Sharma has made a mark by becoming the first HRTC woman trainee conductor.

SHIMLA- She has a vivid memory of sitting in her father’s lap and trying her baby hands on the steering of the bus he drove. “I was three,” she recollects.

Now driving her taxi through the serpentine Sanjauli-Lakkar Bazaar road, she candidly throws many gender stereotypes out of the window. Heads turn to the woman that this little girl has grown up to be. Seema Thakur is the first female HRTC driver, much to the pride and no prejudice of fellow Himachalis.

Also Read: Seema becomes Himachal’s first HRTC female driver

It’s been a week since the 28-year-old started driving a Himachal Road Transport Corporation taxi in Shimla and there isn’t a thing she’d change. To start with, she has been assigned an HRTC taxi. As she gains more experience, the authorities plan to give her a bus to drive.

My father was an HRTC driver and he was a constant inspiration. He is no more, but his work fuelled my passion for driving. I thought it was something more challenging than what is expected of women,

says Seema.

She says her male counterparts have been highly supportive and encouraging. She underwent a five-month training under two instructors, who are as proud of their dedicated student as her family.

Seema came to us first in 2008. She couldn’t make it to the training because of some reasons. In 2010, she approached us again. She was so passionate, we had to take her. She is a good driver now and I am proud of her,

says Kishor Panwar, her instructor.

My daughter has brought laurels to the state and I am very happy. She’s carrying on the legacy of her father,

says Rewati Thakur, Seema’s mother.

Amid a conventional notion that portrays driving skills of women in poor light, Seema has made a seismic shift by earning the faith of her regular passengers.

I feel safe sitting in the back of Seema’s taxi, without considering what perceptions people harbour about women drivers,

says Pariksha, a daily commuter.

Seema echoes the sentiments.

It’s a wrong perception. I am responsible for the safety of my passengers and I am professionally trained to ensure it,

she says.

Driving on the sinuous hill roads is a test of nerves and a bus breakdown at odd hours can make even a grown man edgy.

The HRTC has warned the drivers against fixing of the buses. There are mechanics for the purpose. Changing the tyres or fixing the faults in a bus is a risky task and we have been directed to refrain from it,

says Seema.

Even though Seema has set the wheels in motion, being the first woman HRTC driver has put the onus of her safety on the authorities.

The HRTC never had a gender bar. We were always open to women drivers, but nobody came forward. Seema is the first woman who showed willingness to join the job. She has undergone professional training and we have faith in her skills. We hope her feat will motivate more women to take up this work,

says DS Negi, Regional Manager (Shimla), HRTC. He also says the authorities would ensure she was safe at all times; and for that, Seema has been assigned a taxi for now.

While Seema Thakur has led the way for aspiring female drivers, Leena Sharma has made a mark by becoming the first HRTC woman trainee conductor. She’s been on the job on the bus stand-Chakkar route for a month and a half.

It’s comfortable work. I like it. If the HRTC inducts me after the two-month training, I’d like to go on with it,

says 42-year-old Leena. A mother of two, Leena has been associated with the Janwadi Mahila Samiti for many years and intends to join it again if she is not taken in as a regular employee in the HRTC. Though Leena has grown fond of the job, she says it is awkward to find men

leering at her in the bus.

It is hard to comprehend if they appreciate the idea of having a woman conductor or it’s a gender prejudice. I can’t say anything to them or they’d complain against me. This, for me, is the biggest challenge,

says Leena.

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Campus Watch

Bahra University and Siemens to run engineering course jointly




SHIMLA- Solan based privately owned Bahra University has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with industrial giant Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited (SISW). The tie up will enable University to set up Siemens Certified Professional Learning Center at its campus.

Suman Bose, Managing Director & CEO for Siemens and Dr. SK Bansal, Vice-Chancellor Bahra University signed the MoU at University campus.

Elaborating on the benefits of the MoU Dr. Bansal said the University will start a new batch of 4-year integrated B.Tech, Mechanical with specialization in Design and Development program at their campus.

Dr. Bansal said the above course will be driven to produce industry ready engineers around broad specializations in industry 4.0 and Smart Factory, design and development, manufacturing and computer aided analysis. He said

Students successfully completing the course per stipulated guidelines will be awarded B.Tech Mechanical degree through the University and Certificate of Merit for the opted specialization in Design and Development through Siemens Industry Software India Private Limited,

Suman Bose assured to provide assistance to arrange for internship for students of University and also promised to assist in arranging industry projects for the students and endeavor to conduct conference and seminars in the University.

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Creative Corner

Himachal’s award winning filmmaker Ajay Saklani shares his journey with Himachal Watcher




SHIMLA- It is often said, every great dream begins with a dreamer. One must always remember that one has within self the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.

Keeping in mind the same talented Ajay Saklani hailing from a remote village Sihan, district Mandi of Himachal Pradesh, made the state proud not at national but even at international level by bagging two international awards during screening of his film Saanjh – a Himachali feature film at THE BORREGO SPRINGS FILM FESTIVAL (held in California, USA) where it was chosen as the Best Feature Film among 750 other entries from around the globe was and “Award of merit” at Accolade Global Film Competition.


Ajay hails from a very humble background and showed people that one should be the flame and not the moth as having passed out from a government school his dream to achieve recognition not just for self but even for state and country.

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Sharing his journey to fame he with Himachal Watcher’s Community Member, Ritanjali Hastir, Ajay said,

My father was in army and he dreamt about me too following his footsteps. However, I was more inclined towards filmmaking that led me to taste the magic of theatre world.

As they say follow your passion, be prepared to work hard and sacrifice, and, above all, don’t let anyone limit your dreams so without any knowledge and guidance on filmmaking, Ajay shifted to Delhi in 2005.


There he joined RGB 4:3 Productions and learned the basics of filmmaking from Surender Sagar. He started his career as an editor and worked with some more production houses and few TV channels like Shakti TV, MH One Music, PTC Punjabi, Day & Night News to name.

His first documentary ‘Dyalee – a fading glory’ in 2006 in my village which helped him learn filmmaking basics. His second documentary ‘Upaasmar – The Taste of Hunger’ in 2011 was shot in the tribal areas of Maharashtra raising the issue of Malnutrition deaths in India and finally in 2014 after coming back to Himachal his own production company Silent Hills Studio in Hamirpur came into existence.

“With ‘Saanjh’ production I wanted to make a technical sound film that can compete with other films in the cinema halls. I hope that my work can inspire other filmmakers too and together we can promote Himachali cinema by providing with the quality work in future,” he shared.

“I feel that it was a film that fell in Art as well as Entertainment genre that made it touch hearts at the international level. As normally if we talk about Himachali Cinema, there is no such Cinema as of today in Himachal. Only a few films were produced till now and because of poor technical and creative work, those films could not make it to cinema halls or any film festivals around the country or world”, he expresses.

“Many people outside the state felt embarrassed considering the sad quality of music videos which fail to ravish visual or hearing senses; as they are also judged with the same rod. Recently some singers have given a ray of hope as they came forward with different music and quality videos. Many other singers from the state but they are all focused on Hindi and Punjabi music”, Ajay added as he contemplated on the situations one has to face considering the previous track records.


He further feels, “Cinema on the other hand is still untouched. As in 2011 Sanjeev Rattan’s ‘Dil Ch Vaseya Koi’ even won the National Award but due to the technical issues, the film failed to make it to cinema halls.Some filmmakers are coming up with great ideas for short films but again they are also focused on Hindi language. I believe until all these people don’t start making Pahari(Himachali)language films, there is no support for any kind of cinematic development in Himachal. Recently Siddarth Chauhan made a mark with his latest work and I feel happy that his next project is in Himachali language. It seems like a beginning of a new era for Himachali Cinema that has been neglected from a long time.”

“There is a great potential in Himachal and I receive a lots of calls everyday where people want to enter into acting or filmmaking and looking for guidance. But to their eagerness alone won’t do wonders we do need government support as well like in other states. The only exciting announcement is the financial support upto 10 lakh for filmmakers but only for short films and documentaries which again needs running from pillar to post and I can say is a herculean task. Exempting new cinema halls from tax for first three years is not taking filmmakers anywhere but support for film production in the state is better option which will also help in generating more and more tourism revenue.”

“Talking about my experience while making ‘Saanjh’ was a very difficult journey. Finding a producer or financier for a film in Himachali dialect was most difficult part. On the other hand our Himachal government doesn’t provide any kind of support for filmmaking in the state but expect a lot for the youth. Making people believe in me our project wasn’t easy,” shared Ajay as he keeps his view on talent promotion.

“As per his message he says My upbringing gave me deep insight into our culture and after coming back I realized a drastic change people in my village were trying to talk to in Hindi and the kids were being taught the Hindi and English words and were given punishment for talking in their own language. All our festivals were in disappearing stage and people had surrendered their traditions in the name of development. Actors feel ashamed to work in a Himachali film so very few actors turned out for auditions and they are happy to become part of crowd when a director from Mumbai.”

“I feel that as we don’t have a recognized language and we don’t have our own script to preserve the sounds of our language so there seems no way for the development of literature in our state. But yes, Cinema and Music can help in development of language & culture and it can take forward our traditional heritage. So this is very much important for us to have our own cinema and quality music. In all these years I learned the cinema, music and literature play a significant role in the development of language and culture and so we need to come forward and give Himachal its due respect,” he concludes.

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Himachal now ahead of Kerala in quality education in Govt schools: ASE Report 2016




SHIMLA- Annual Status of Education Report (ASER)-2016 in its 11th Annual Report released in New Delhi confirmed that Himachal Pradesh now stood ahead of Kerala in the field of quality education in schools. The survey indicated that government schools of the state were leading and doing better than other states in terms of learning outcomes.

State Project Director of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan and Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan,Ghanshyam Chand said that ASER was the largest annual household survey of the children in India that focused on status of schooling and basic learning. ASER visited almost 15,630 government schools in rural India. In Himachal Pradesh 283 schools were visited during the survey. As many as 15 organizations participated in ASER-2016 across the state.

The report ASER-2016 found enrolment rate of students in the age group 6 to 14 in Himachal Pradesh to be 99.8 per cent. The State secured first rank in achieving learning outcomes in basic reading and mathematics across the country.

In language category the achievement level of government schools of Himachal Pradesh was 65.3 per cent as compared to the national level of 41.6 per cent. In mathematics the achievement level of the state was 47.4 per cent as compared to the national level of 21.1 per cent. The government schools have performed better than private schools throughout the state in mathematics.

In learning of English language, significant improvement was observed in the State. At national level the achievement status is 15.3 per cent whereas it is 44 per cent in case of Himachal Pradesh. In English the State stands at 5th position.

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