Discover the Inspiring Climb of Minu Mohanta, the Overhead Crane Operator at JSL Jajpur’s Steel Melting Shop
“My next goal is to work with heavy slabs. Why? Because it scares me, and I want to conquer my fears”: Minu Mohanta, Crane Operator, Steel Melting Shop (JSL, Jajpur)
Jajpur: (Prabaha News) : Minu Mohanta, hailing from a family of masons, married young at 14 and became a widow at 25. To provide for her two children’s education, she worked tirelessly as a stone crusher in a quarry for six years. Meet the determined woman who transformed into a sanitation worker at Jindal Stainless in Jajpur, Odisha, eventually becoming the plant’s only female overhead crane operator.
Her story is a testament to unwavering determination, resilience in the face of adversity, and a relentless spirit that refuses to accept defeat. Let’s delve into the extraordinary journey of a woman whose strength is as unyielding as steel and whose commitment rivals the steadfastness of stainless steel.
Minu Mohanta’s Unconventional Odyssey:
Minu’s roots trace back to Kiajhara, Tamaka village, in Jajpur, Odisha. Born in 1981, she was the youngest child of her mason father and homemaker mother. Growing up with an older brother, she enjoyed a nurturing environment. She attended Kiajhara Praathmik Vidyalaya for her primary education until the seventh grade. At the tender age of 14, she entered into marriage, a common practice in her community. This marriage led her to Kalinganagar, where her husband worked as a watchman for Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited.
Despite her responsibilities as a wife and mother, Minu persisted in her education until the ninth grade. However, life took an unexpected turn when she became pregnant with her first child, compelling her to discontinue her studies. Tragedy struck in 2004 when her husband passed away in a motorcycle accident, leaving her as the sole provider for her two young children.
The Balancing Act of Motherhood and Labor:
With the unwavering support of her mother-in-law, Minu embarked on her journey as a crusher at 8 a.m. each day, concluding her workday around 1 p.m. To manage both work and home, she dedicated her mornings to meal preparation before heading off to her job.
The Triumph of Prioritizing Education:
Minu’s indomitable spirit was evident in her determination to provide her children with an education. Her daughter successfully completed her school education and began college. While she was in her first year of college, Minu arranged her marriage. Her son, however, chose a different path, leaving school after the ninth grade. Today, he works as a JCB driver at Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited, married with a daughter of his own.
A Chance Encounter with Jindal Stainless:
The unpredictability of her job at the stone quarry, where work and income were sporadic, prompted a distant relative to inform Minu about Jindal Stainless. The company was actively recruiting for its Jajpur factory, offering a more stable source of income. In July 2011, she joined the Jindal Stainless family, balancing her farming duties during early mornings and Sundays.
From Housekeeping to Heavy Machinery:
Minu’s initial responsibilities at Jindal Stainless as a member of the housekeeping team involved loading tractors with scrap pieces from construction remnants and cleaning up construction sites. Her duties rotated, shifting from demanding construction areas to lighter office cleaning tasks.
Shattering Stereotypes: A Woman in a Man’s World:
Minu’s journey at Jindal Stainless defied gender norms as she ventured into traditionally male-dominated domains. When Dulevo cleaning machines were introduced in 2013, her courage shone. Though lacking prior driving experience, she swiftly learned to operate them. A pivotal moment arrived in 2015 when Minu expressed her interest in crane operation to SMS Head Awanindra Kumar Singh during a ceremony. Singh granted her three months to learn crane operation, a challenge she accepted with fervour. She mastered the skill within a month, dedicating the subsequent two months to perfecting it. Since then, she has operated overhead cranes with unbridled joy and pride, cherishing each moment of her work.
A Message of Gratitude and Safety:
Minu’s message to her colleagues is one of gratitude and concern for their safety. Her vision for life is clear: to make her daughter proud of her accomplishments and to ensure her colleagues return home safely.
Recognition and Beyond:
Minu’s story captured the attention of local newspapers and garnered acknowledgement from government officials and senior leadership. Personally, she felt elation, while professionally, she takes pride in her role, as it shatters gender stereotypes.
Inspiring Others to Soar:
Minu’s story has inspired other women, such as Sunita Hembrum and Babita Dalai, to become crane operators at Jindal Stainless. To those following in her footsteps, she imparts a powerful message of strength and determination. She encourages them to pursue their ambitions with unwavering dedication, reminding them that success is achieved through personal effort, not the generosity of others.
Dream Big, Achieve Great Heights:
To her daughter and the next generation of aspiring women, Minu delivers a resounding message of hope and ambition. She emphasizes that nothing is too difficult, as success hinges on their willpower and determination. Regardless of past setbacks, she urges them to forge ahead, setting their sights on loftier goals and marching forward with unwavering resolve. Minu’s journey embodies the spirit of perseverance and the belief that, with determination, women can achieve remarkable heights and shatter the glass ceiling.