Bengaluru: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday hailed woman loco pilot Sireesha Gajini of the South Western Railway (SWR) for also steering the Oxygen Express ferrying the life-saving gas from Jharkhand's Jamshedpur to Bengaluru on May 21.
Interacting with Gajini, of Karnataka, in his monthly "Mann ki Baat" radio programme, Modi told her that all mothers and sisters would be proud to hear that one Oxygen Express was being run by an all-women crew.
"Every woman of the country will be proud of you. Not only they, every Indian will feel proud of you," he told Gajini during his two minute chat with her.
"Sireesha ji, you are doing an outstanding job. Many women like you came forward during the coronavirus pandemic and gave the nation the strength to find against the disease. You are also a great example of naari shakti (woman power)," he added.
Gajini told Modi in English that she worked with great pleasure when she piloted the Oxygen Express.
"I happily worked for this mission. For delivering the oxygen, everything is checked, including safety, formation, leakage," she said.
Gajini, 33, and her co-pilots N.P. Aparna and Neelam Kumari, drove the train, carrying 120 tonnes of liquid medical oxygen in six cryogenic containers, at 100 kmph from Tamil Nadu's Jolarpettai to Whitefield station in Bengaluru, covering 125 km in 90 minutes.
"The women pilot crew took over the train's electric engine when their turn came at Jolarpettai and piloted it for 125 km to Bengaluru. They forayed into a domain, considered as a male reserve for long," a railway official told IANS.
Thanking the Prime Minister for calling her, Gajini said the Railways has been always supportive.
Asked from where she got the inspiration to become a loco pilot in the railways, she said: "My parents are my inspiration. My father encouraged me and my two sisters to study well and supported us in our professional careers."
An engineering graduate, Gajini joined the zonal railway as a local pilot in April 2013 after a year stint in a software firm here.