NO more Argument for an Auto Ride!

The other day, someone posted on my Fb wall about his conversation with an Auto-driver, wherein the latter expressed his dissatisfaction for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government in Delhi; and that he regrets his choice of promoting AAP. (Auto-drivers in 2013 have played a key-role in promoting AAP in Delhi, by carrying their posters for free or at cheap rates). Freedom of choice is a fundamental right – and it should be respected, of whoever it may be. However, the wall-post forced me to ask another random auto-driver the reason for the same. He responded:

Kya kaanoon banadiya hai, jisko dekho call kar deta hai or hamara challan karvaa deta hai” (What law they have made? Whoever can call and complain against us, and court then penalizes us with a challan). He added that, ‘it is no more an Aam Aadmi’s (common man) party, but a party that is also filling its pocket from our hard-earned money’.

The Norms

  • It has been a rule in Delhi that no auto-driver should impose unreasonable charges to the passengers, but run by meter only.
  • The day charges and the night charges are different.
    Day: Downing charge is Rs 25 for initial 2 km; further which, Rs 8 for each kilometer.
    Night: Downing charge is Rs 32 and the total fare is 25% above the day fare (11pm-5am).
  • Waiting charge: Rs 30 per hour, charge subjected to a minimum of 15min of wait.
    Luggage: Rs 7.50 for luggage heavier or bigger than shopping bags or small suitcases.
  • Effective since September 2014, no auto-driver can deny going to any place or have favorites for locations, be it a day or night – until they have ‘On-Duty’ board displayed at front. Respecting their wish to be able to go home without inviting a prosecution, they can pick passengers towards their home location only when they display an Off-Duty board with location mentioned on it. The amount of challan for refusal is Rs 2000.
  • If passengers find any auto-driver not running by meter or refusing to go without the ‘Off-Duty’ displayed, the passengers can report to the transport helpline: +91-11-42-400-400. This number is mandatory to be put on the auto as well.
  • The Helpline representative would ask for the vehicle no., origin & destination city and passenger’s credentials (Name, address and mobile no.). S/he would also speak to the auto-driver in valid requests scenarios to either convince him or at least to hear his part as well, and avoid being biased.
  • If the auto-driver is yet stubborn on overcharging, refusal, or running on road without fixing the meter, the helpline registers a complaint, and a reference of the complaint is sent to the passengers’ mobile no. (see image). The passengers after few days get a confirmation call from Traffic line, for successfully procession of the challan.

Auto Complain screenshot.jpg

A Sneak-peak

The increase in the minimum fare from Rs 19 to Rs 25 (since May 4, 2013) and the per kilometre fare from Rs 6.5 to Rs 8 (Rs 4.5 per km in 2010) was followed by a strike due to an increase in CNG price (many auto-drivers did not support the strike as increased fare would have only increased the auto-rentals and not directly benefited them; but they were absent from the road to avoid the violence of hooligans). In 1997, the Supreme Court had stopped issuing of new permits concerning the polluted smokes that the old-autos emitted. This resulted in many autos being bought from black market financiers at a higher cost of up to Rs 6.5 lakh. Many took loans at higher interest rates from the financiers, due to the absence of a bank credit. Overcharging was one way for repaying the loan, afford the CNG conversion that followed, handling the police and feeding their families.

On Nov 19, 2010 SC judges KS Radhakrishnan and CK Prasad allowed permits to 45,000 new auto rickshaws, which dropped black-market permit price from Rs 6.5 lakhs to Rs 2.5 lakhs. In 2015, SC allowed Delhi government to have 1 lakh autos. The government had also tied up with 3 banks (PNB, IndusInd Bank & State Bank Bikaner and Jaipur) for facilitation of loans for auto-drivers – to save them from high interest rates charged by the local financiers.

Many commuters (auto) have had experiences when most auto-drivers either claim that the meter is damaged or simply refuse to go if the passenger denies commuting on their higher prices; drivers even speed-off on mention of locations they don’t wish to go towards. This becomes troublesome especially for patients, senior citizens and pregnant women, who neither can afford a cab nor bear the hassles of the  DTC buses. Others opt for autos to save their time and end-up paying more than what the meter would estimate. The overcharge could have been justified few years ago due to the burdening loan, CNG conversion and less fare. However, with the revision of the fare, issuance of more auto permits, availability of bank credit and where each kilometre doesn’t cost more than Re 1.50 in CNG, and let’s add two or three rupees more on each kilometre for maintenance, rent, road tax, bribe and miscellaneous – is it really fare for an auto driver to charge over Rs 8 for a kilometre?

If one wants to tip the auto-driver, it should be by-choice, not imposed or demanded. This regulation on Delhi auto-rickshaws eases commuting as compared to the neighbouring cities: Noida or Gurgaon, and especially the places in Delhi that the auto-wallas interpret as ‘Out-of-the-world’.

However, immense money, time and mental calm could have been saved, if we would have had equally efficient DTC buses and no potholed roads that annoy auto-drivers more.

On waiting for a bus for long at Anand Lok, when I called the DTC Helpline they replied: ‘Aati hi Hogi…’ (must be on its way). Moreover, many buses indeed don’t stop at all the bus stops. Hope some light be bestowed on that too.

Was it important – Like & Share! Not important – Criticise! Want to contribute, please do – Comment!

Reference links:

  1. http://www.delhi.gov.in/wps/wcm/connect/142d56804c577136b037f6ac8a5ce753/New+Pub.+Not.pdf?MOD=AJPERES&lmod=-369665456
  2. https://delhitrafficpolice.nic.in/public-interface/auto-rickshaw-taxi-fare-calculator/
  3. http://www.ndtv.com/delhi-news/delhi-auto-rickshaw-drivers-start-displaying-no-service-plates-667334
  4. https://kafila.org/2011/11/20/a-few-questions-about-a-few-thousand-new-auto-rickshaws-in-delhi-simon-harding/
  5. https://kafila.org/2010/04/02/the-truth-behind-the-strike/
  6. https://kafila.org/2010/03/24/auto-rickshaws-in-delhi-why-sheila-dikshit%E2%80%99s-comments-are-misguided/

Does India comply with Literacy Standards?

We choose representatives in the government to serve our country, not only to take it to the newer heights, but primarily to work on the hindrances for basic living standards. Education lays the foundation stone for the development of any country, which in turn contributes to the economy. Thus, educated citizens make the most viable resource for any government. The literacy rate of India is 74.04% (2011 Census report), however, the quality of education has been notably astonishing, with many on-paper literates not complying with the standards of their highest education (ASER Report 2014).

Education is a public good, hence should be a State subject: from school to universities. Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has said that the development of a country is not marked by its GDP, but its capability. It becomes the government’s responsibility to work on education from pre-primary to the higher studies.

The main areas that have emerged as obstacles for India to establish a complete literate citizenry are as follows:

  1. Improper Infrastructure and lack of Incentives

Regardless of 69 years of independence, a proper infrastructure for education is not uniformly found in the entire country, especially at rural or remote areas: school building, utilities, seating etc.

For small villages, there is one Panchayat for five. The benefits that a Panchayat representative receives from the government, for encouraging education among the villagers, gets limited to the village the representative belongs to and a little around, or where the Panchayat itself is situated. Thus, the far away areas from the Panchayat get deprived of the government incentives and unaware of the government schemes.

Furthermore, the students, especially underprivileged or with no literate background find it hard to comprehend with the course content, which incurs the need for separate tuition classes, which not everyone can afford.

  1. Scarcity of Resources

Regardless of the number of schemes the government run or the free institutions government set up, education is never complete free. The families have to spend either in buying stationary, as admission or exam fee, tuition fee, travel, uniform etc. Many states run schemes like mid-day meal, free books and uniform, travel vouchers: which are some relief though, however still not a complete solution, especially for extreme BPL families.

  1. Lack of Interest

It has been observed that many parents do not send their kids to schools for they do not really find the need. Thus, they are broadly not connected to the outcomes of education. Thus, it becomes critically important for the government to create a vision for education among the parents. Equally important is to develop interest among the facilitators or teachers, so that do not limit their work to waged work.

  1. Early drop-outs

The number of students that get admitted in a school is phenomenally higher than the ones graduating from the school, or colleges. There have been significant drop-outs at Class 5, 8, 10 and 12, and so forth in colleges too. These drop outs have been observed both in rural as well as urban areas. In an interview with Child Development Project Officer (CPDO) of village Badgaon (Udaipur, Rajasthan): Harsha Sharma, she has exclaimed that a lot of villages do not even have secondary and senior secondary schools and colleges. Another reason has been marriages (especially for girls), need for the family to have another employed member, lost trust from the end-vision, and so forth.

  1. Skill development and professional courses

The only reason parents admit their children in schools and children seek to pursue education is for their vision to live a better life. The issue arises when this vision gets disillusioned with time, especially with the fair-play of interest versus money: not all areas would be of interest to the students, and not all interest areas would be money-making – this added with uncertainty of employment. Thus, burden of livelihood dominates over talent and interest and accounts to drop-outs, or unwillingness to join schools at the first place. Even worse are the additional trainings and equipments required in respective skills, and the cost attached to it. This accounts to the reason of scarcity as well as lack of plurality in the field of medicine, art and films, sports etc.: there may be enough will and talent, but lack of support for pursuance.

Private institutions with sole purpose of profit, on the other hand, put baits of fulfilling dreams to attract students, however, fail to provide quality education. Similar happens in terms of quality with budget institutions too, which leads income inequality at the end. An MBA from an IIM would lead to a six-figure salary or more and that from any less known institution, among whom are those who have pushed ends to graduate, would initially strive for a job, and then end up with peanuts.

  1. Absence of Analysis

Many schemes that generate from the government’s end do not reach to its supposed beneficiaries. Similarly schemes, syllabi and infrastructure cannot be universally right. Any best practice adopted from X not necessarily would be equally good for Y, in fact can be much worse. Thus, imposing certain courses or infrastructure and investing on it just because they have had great outcomes somewhere is not really a great idea. A continuous feedback and analysis is important to capture – from all the stakeholders; and more important is implementation and follow-up.

Above issues aside, quality of education is directly linked to the resources allocated. Thus, fund allocation plays a major role in contributing to all the above bullets. Harsha Sharma (CPDO, Badgaon) has circled budget as a key reason for leaving out on gaps.

Other than budget, clearly seen is the sharing of responsibility with civil society organizations, who if not can completely resolve the finance issue, can at least contribute for equipped human resources: to willfully facilitate, assess and coordinate. Although, the government has been helping NGOs in various ways, however, the aid so far is menial, in terms of funds as well as policies. For instance, the recent RTE policy inhibits the working of the budget schools that provide quality education at minimal rate in areas completely deprived of a quality education set-up by the government. Since they are budget schools they cannot be provide all the facilities, yet they emerge as hope out of nowhere.

Childhood is like a wet-clay that only proper education can shape. The apt period for nurturing great values is schooling. To develop fruitful attitude in the being to be, the focus has to be from the beginning: from understanding child psychology, providing proper learning, at home, school and surrounding, indentifying their vision and talent, counsel them the path to follow and supporting them throughout. The way government would contribute in the development of the well-being, the country would enjoy the outcome: good or bad, embarassing or proud.

Indian Preamble: post 2000

Despite being the lengthiest in the world, Indian Constitution is considered to be the superior one, perhaps, because of the Constituent Assembly, which had sought inspiration from various other Constitutions of different states (thus called ‘bag of borrowings’). What sets the benchmark for this rule book of laws is the Preamble that was inspired by the Preamble of the USA, which also starts with ‘We, the People’. The following accounts a simplified explanation of the technical terms of the Preamble that states:

We, the People of India,
 having solemnly resolved to constitute India into a SOVEREIGN SOCIALIST SECULAR DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC and to secure to its citizens:

JUSTICE, social, economic and political;

LIBERTY of thought, expression, belief, faith and worship;

EQUALITY of status and of opportunity; and to promote among them all

FRATERNITY assuring the dignity of the individual and the unity and integrity of the Nation;

In our Constituent Assembly this twenty-sixth day of November, 1949, do hereby adopt, enact and give to ourselves this CONSTITUTION.

Clearly, the text entails two major components:

  1. Structure of the State
  2. What will it ensure?

Structure of the State:

  1. Sovereignty ensures that the nation-state and its decisions are not influenced by any other state at any condition; and are free of any kind of imperialism or intervention.
  2. Socialism ensures equal social status to every citizen, regardless of its social belonging e.g. caste, religion, language, region, race, gender etc. (different from the economic reference)
  3. Secularism ensures every citizen the freedom to pursue his/ her own choice of religion; and the governing bodies would not be inclined towards any specific religious body(s).
  4. Democracy ensures that the government that takes decisions for the country would be elected by the people, would comprise of and be representative of the people as well as would work for the people.
  5. Republic nation is where the head of the state is chosen by the citizens of the state, who then works according to the rule of laws followed by the state for its welfare.

Simply put, India is free from any foreign control (sovereignty), where government is by the people, for the people and of the people (democracy), and head of the state is elected by the citizens, who works for the welfare of the state following the rule of law, i.e. the Constitution (republic). Indian state ensures that every individual has the freedom to choose his or her religion (Secular) and that there would be equal status to every individual regardless of his/her belonging (Socialism).

What will it ensure?

These components that structure our country become the guiding principle ensuring access to JUSTICE; freedom to think, express, believe, worship our choices (LIBERTY); no discrimination of status or opportunities based on religion, caste, class, race, gender etc. (EQUALITY) and inclusion and encouragement of communities of different ethnicities (FRATERNITY) – and furthermore, contributing together towards maintaining the unity and integrity of the nation.

The values under trial

The validation of our Constitution, however, gets endangered when the big claims of the Preamble itself falls flat:

  • the religion angle when the confessions of Swami Aseemanand and Afzal Guru are addressed differently;
  • when Akhlaq lynching gets disillusioned by the lab confirming the meat to be beef and FIR gets ordered against the family that was awaiting ‘justice’ for a permanent loss;
  • political leaders shamelessly express their hate for Dalits, Muslims and easily get away with it;
  • freedom to express is condoned, Ghar Wapsi is encouraged, women are restricted from worshipping, human rights are violated via AFSPA;
  • LGBT rights, denial or delay of justice to minorities (Rohith Vemula case), role of RSS and Colonel Purohit’s inclination towards Abhinav Bharat (a Hindu extremist body) and that of the Prime Minister of the country too!

If the ranting continues.. perhaps it wont end soon!

Yet, faith restores in ‘Satyameva Jayate

Unlike North Korea and other dictator countries, in India, issues are allowed to be brought under public ambit: for debates, administration criticisms, thereby putting pressure for justice on concerned authorities. We can’t be less grateful to the creators of our Constitution that had drafted the remedies to allow dissent, curb minorities’ atrocities, and so forth; is even open for further amendments, as and when required. There have been instances lately of intolerance to freedom of expressions leading to violence, however, the courts’ intervention at par with the Constitutional rights, has been validating the values of the Preamble in the year post-2000: even amidst the thin blanket of pessimism.

Does Saffron Terror Really Exists?

Saffron terror may perhaps be a hyped concept because not every Hindu hates the other religion, like every terrorist does not represent the community he/she belongs to. However, the rapidly increasing communal discomfort and the hateful atmosphere cannot be glossed over: we cannot overturn from the angst being gradually infiltrated against the minority communities, especially Muslims. #GharWapsi, #Beefban etc. are justified on morals that reflects more of a retaliation of few massacres that had happened in the past, overlooking that there had been similar number of them happened to the minorities too (Malegaon, Samjhauta etc.). Sadly, on condemning such killing or stating that violence is wrong, or that no religion preaches to hate, one gets trolled, abuses, taunts of why not the minorities have migrated to Pakistan in ’47 or the noble advice to leave the country now. No one bothers to look back at history, when these Muslims agreed to be Indian, because they were promised the equality and security, which has somewhere failed to be the reality today. On questioning the governance and its’ role in safeguarding the secularism, Bhakts would suggest to go to North Korea. Blind faith on the government is the new definition of Nationalism.

Few insights that is strangely getting neglected:

  • Former Home Secy G K Pillai, also an investigator in the Samjhauta Express blast case, had stated Aseemanand (Abhinav Bharat) as an accused in the Ajmer Dargah blasts case.
  • A report by an independent fact finding mission on the Gujarat Carnage 2002 published at Outlook (April 11, 2002) mentioned about the biasness in recruitment and promotion to Sangh, VHP or similar group members or followers in the Gujarat government including police, home guard etc. It further mentioned about the ACP Barot, who was appointed for investigating the 2 Ahmedabad massacres, actually criticized the prior assumptions of involvement of the Hindu extremist group members like Babu Bajrangi (Bajrang Dal) with a long criminal record.
  • Rajasthan ATS: Ajmer Dargah blast main accused Sunil Joshi (also an alleged accused in Gujarat Best Bakery case and former RSS pracharak) had had secret meetings with BJP MP Yogi Aditya Nath at his residence a year ago the incident took place, and with RSS leader Indresh Kumar, Pragya Thakur (Malegaon blast accused) and Swami Aseemanand at Gujarat Samaj Guest House in Jaipur in 2005. In the row were accused conspirators: Devendra Gupta (allegedly linked to radical Hindu group Abhinav Bharat) and Lokesh Sharma (both associated with RSS) and others. Indresh & Aditya Nath’s telephone numbers were found in Joshi’s diary.
  • Atal Bihari at Goa or Amit Shah at UP (shown in Nakul Sawhney’s documentary Muzzafarnagar Abhi Baaki Hai) are few examples of how politicians deliver the hate speech, and infuse communal disharmony resulting to riots.

Organizations like RSS, Abhinav Bharat, VHP, Bajrang Dal etc are reported suspects of the various communally violent incidents, yet never sacked for the same, often due to lack of proofs or hidden encouragements. No wonder why they get away smoothly despite of their provocative speeches, which if not directly, sometimes indirectly contribute to vandalizing churches: Hissar (Haryana), Nadia (West Bengal), Agra (UP) and Delhi (2015); demolishing Gurudwaras: Delhi (2016) and so on.

Himanshu Trivedi, the judge who resigned from Ahmedabad court had mentioned the aftermath of riot scenario in Gujarat courts where often in judges’ tea-room, they used to discuss about ‘teaching Muslims a lesson’, calling them as ‘bad elements’ – that expected from a judiciary!!!! In fact, Trivedi has mentioned how riot cases in Gujarat were trialed by judges from the saffron side of political spectrum – either members of VHP, Bajrang Dal or their close associations. Hence, the clear demarcation between Aseemanand and Afzal Guru: both confessed their crime, yet their confessions are acknowledged differently: one worshipped as saint and the other condemned as terrorist: HYPOCRISY!

If looked into the state government versus the number of communal crimes reported, the results indicate towards the maligned hands of majority-elected parties and their fascism: yet it goes unquestioned!

  • With the change of the government, Col Purohit’s colleague has changed his statement against him & claimed that he was pressurized to say so. An ‘army-men’ was pressurized???????
  • Sadhvi Pragya was released on grounds that she lent her bike to someone on the day the blast took place. Blind-eyed to the fact that she won’t give her possession to a random unknown individual: however the associate is also an integral member of RSS like Sadhvi Pragya is.

Instead, eminent dignitaries possessing membership of religious groups itself indicates to their inclination towards the religion, be it an army man Col Purohit or the ministers of the country.

It’s appalling to see that what defines patriotism is only waving tricolor or singing Bharat Mata Ki Jai, which indeed gives the license to violate the legal conduct of the Constitution, as per these right winger extremists. These organizations have raised goons to police morality than empowering the police to curb the crime: ABVP vandalizes Don Bosco’s statue at Guwahati, Dadri lynching: all these are leading to religious polarization, and then few gets offended if someone highlights the intolerance. Just because such organizations continue to exist despite of their ill-effects, their followers get motivated and the hatred feeling prosper. It’s high time now that the ban-wagon should be on such extremists and their organizations, to set a stringent example. But no one would ask for it, until the citizens would be kept busy in such petty things to keep them away from the larger issues: secularism, economy, foreign relations etc. When it comes to Saffron Terror, it is not about the colour coding or the terminology, its about the prevailing adversity, that needs serious attention.

Look Up:

  1. https://hinduterrorist.wordpress.com/tag/list-of-hindu-terror-attacks/ for photo of Members of Bajrang Dal openly brandish weapons, but without any repercussions. [Photo Jammu News Agency]
  2. http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/church-vandalised-in-haryana-hanuman-idol-allegedly-placed-inside-747024
  3. http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/nia-needs-to-piece-together-saffron-terror-puzzles-fast/articleshow/52001557.cms

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

A Healthy Living, Food, Shelter & Education are the Right of Every Human. If not Free, at least they should not be Commercialized!
  • What would I do with the increasing National Literacy Rate, when I have been Pitying the Worsening condition of the nearby Govt. Schools! They run on the same Set-up Proposed or Approved by our very own System. Yet, how many get into the Limited seats of our esteemed Universities? On top of it, some Dreams simply Die on Not Getting the desired Courses!
  • How would I be ‘Secular’, if I would be deprived of ‘Right to Education’ on the very Edge of ‘Reservations’!
  • What would I do of the smooth National Highways, if my area still has Narrow & Potholed Roads!
  • Why would I encourage the Inauguration of a new Hospital, when the existing ones’ condition are simply Pathetic!
  • What am I supposed to do with the new Govt. schemes, plans & proposals, when I know accessing the benefits would be next to impossible!

The Advertisers & the Jingle writers do not have to come out of their AC Cabins to peep into the rusty windows to know the status of their Work, nor do they have to stand in the long queues under the sun since early morning or amidst shivering chillness! For how long would an Empty Stomach Feed the National Hunger? I have started asking all the electoral candidates, who come to my door to seek Vote, “What  have they Planned for Me?”. Try asking the same, if you are Confused too, & figure out Whom to Vote this Elections!

Should there be reservation in any sector?

The sole purpose of implementing reservation was to uplift the backward communities. The responsibility of the society to uplift the backwards still remain, however, the situation has changed in the present scenario. Not that we do not have backward communities today, but more than caste or related categories, they are backward for their economical status. The reservation has definitely been helping most of them to grow, however, often at the stake of a worth candidate. An evil side of reservation is the ignorance of deserving individuals, who possess the quality to grow socially but are deprived of the basic needs to catalyse it. Having said that, I also admit that there are areas where backwardness is due to the origin.

Reservation has also been the reason for much indigenous dissatisfaction leading to migration to more developed countries. To make their lives better, in a way, many are contributing to the economy of the country they prefer to reside, where they are getting the desired opportunities.

Hence, all religion, caste, reservation should be removed, and being a female, I recommend even the gender reservations from all sectors should be removed. Instead of following a uniform reservation at all sectors and centres, there should be a SIT (special investigation team/ committee) recommended reservation that should also include reservation for the economically backward classes.

Which Life Matters More? #Dadri

Beef ban had any ways discouraged my nativity, what added to it was NDTV’s ‘We The People’. More than a human murder, the entire debate kept switching to demand of a law to protect cows. The Samajwadi Party representative (Gaurav) justified the sending of meat for testing as a legal process, as if the test result of it being a beef or not, would have any influence on the murder!

Sartaj, the IAF engineer & the son of Akhlaq, became the hero by saying: “Saare Jahaan Se Achha, Hindustan hamara, Mazhab nhi sikhata aapas me Bair rakhna” (India is greater of all the countries, religion doesn’t teach mutual disharmony); yet could not set an example for the filthy politicians. Owaisi infact replied: it’s the thought of all Indian ‘Muslims”; another attempt of a possible divide! State government aiding the victims annoys Sangeet Som more than the mob breaking to an innocent family.

We live in a country where we are free to practice the religion we wish to, but our food menu would still be decided by few self-proclaimed religious entities.