Motivational Video
Vol 7 Issue 26, Jun 24 - 30, 2016
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Young saviours pull out rickshaw pullers from the abyss

   By  Roohi Saluja Sehgal
   Noida
28 Jun 2016
Posted 27-Aug-2010
Vol 0 Issue 0

At first glance, 43-year-old Jamun looks like any other rickshaw puller in Delhi - a lean body and a face with distinct cheekbones and unkempt graying stubs. As he pulls his rickshaw closer, his face glows like that of a child showing off his new, prized possession.

Jamun’s new acquisition is a customized cycle rickshaw. With padded seats, a bottle-holder, the day’s newspaper, dustbin, a fixed tariff, advertisement space, and an extended roof that covers the rider and not just the passenger – it’s a modern-day rickshaw.

But it is not the looks of the brand-new vehicle that makes Jamun upbeat. That he ‘owns’ it – thanks to a socially-engineered project – is the fact that he finds overwhelming. “In my 13 years of work, I had not even dared to dream of having my own rickshaw,” says Jamun, who is not alone in basking in the new-found freedom from usurious clutches of ‘contractors’.

Liberating rickshaw pullers and offering them a hope in life is in fact the dream of an enterprising group of students from Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC). The good-hearted students, along with an international non-profit organization, Students In Free Enterprise (SIFE), are doing something more than their academic pursuits.

Get, Set, Go! Rickshaw pullers can now chase
their dreams

 “The project helps rickshaw pullers to take a loan and buy their own customized rickshaws, setting off a secured system of savings for themselves and their family,” sums up Radhika Goel, President, SRCC SIFE.       

Of the 2,500 rickshaws plying on the streets, 95 percent are not owned by pullers.  They hire the rickshaws from local contractors, without giving any deposit, often on the guarantee of a fellow rickshaw puller. It’s a simple process of lending, but it triggers an exploitative system of mortgage. 

While the contractor merely lends his rickshaw, in exchange for an exorbitant rental of Rs 40 a day, the rickshaw puller also pledges his dignity, his very existence and that of his family! 

“The rickshaws are not well-maintained. If it breaks down, we have to repair it at our own cost. Let alone demanding fair play from the contractors, we are often beaten up, and abused in public,” says Girija Shankar, another rickshaw puller helped by SRCC SIFE.

The students help them to not just procure loan from Punjab National Bank, but also buy customized rickshaws. The daily repayment of Rs 40 to the contractor is now navigated to the bank, which is only a one-year window repayment towards the eventual ownership of the rickshaw. In addition, they have the advantage of accidental insurance premium and revenue from advertisements, which is shared between the rickshaw puller, and SRCC SIFE fund. So, in one year, a rickshaw puller can manage to save Rs 20,000 to 25,000.     

“As an extension of our moral duty, we have recently entered into a tie-up with Max HealthCare, providing health benefits to the rickshaw pullers and their families,” says Ashima Gupta, another SRCC SIFE volunteer.          

The current team of SRCC SIFE graduates next year. But before they leave the campus, they will pass the baton on to their juniors. So the dream lives on to illuminate more faces like that of Jamun.



Print  |  Email  | 
 Share   

You might also like:

Desi Baywatch hero

River lifeguard Satish Chandra is like Mitch Buchannon, the popular lifeguard from American TV show ‘Baywatch’, but recognition eludes him even after he has saved 50 lives in 33 years

Read More

We’ve one more JP

He shares not just the name with Jayaprakash Narayan but also the Loknayak’s vision. The doctor-turned-bureaucrat-turned-social activist-turned politician is biding his time to capture power. Mahesh Avadhutha profiles the Loksatta founder

Read More

Stories on Innovations & Innovators
The Lead Star Digital Issue
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Cool relief

Overhearing a home tutor’s physics lecture to his son, Ashis Paul of Grey Dhaka designed a cooling devise, bringing relief to poor Bangladeshis reeling under heat without power, says G Singh

Read More

Sworn benefactor

At the funeral of his brother in 1963, Deo Kumar Saraf swore not to let poverty-struck people die due to lack of medical care. Today, his Anandalok group of hospitals challenge corporate hospitals with their affordable charges, says G Singh

Read More

Nostalgic ride

A last vestige of colonial era, an antique train with wooden coaches still chugs on India’s only private railway line in Maharashtra. Narendra Kaushik traces the journey of Shakuntala Express

Read More

Flattening a myth

Dispelling the long held belief that flat-footed persons cannot excel in sports, Dipa Karmakar has become the first Indian woman gymnast to qualify for the Olympics. Partho Burman tracks the bumpy road the Tripura athlete had travelled so far

Read More

River revival

Noyyal, the river that fed the fertile western Tamil Nadu, is today polluted and dry most of the time. To rejuvenate the dead Noyyal, Vanitha Mohan is on an eco-mission. P C Vinoj Kumar profiles her on the occasion of World Environment Day

Read More

Wigs of compassion

A cancer patient’s elation over the wig he had made for her changed Marishetty Kumar’s life.  The wigmaker who made wigs for actors now sells his creations for a discounted price to those who lose hair due to chemotherapy, says Usha Prasad

Read More

Water winner

The ups and downs of B M Balakrishna’s life are linked to water. Starting as a car washer, he went to sell water pumps and then founded a RO plant. S Sainath meets the owner of Rs 20 crore Aquapot that is set to double its turnover this year

Read More

Poor’s banker

The son of a poor sweet shop owner, Chandra Shekhar Ghosh today sweetens the lives of women in poverty stricken homes with loans. G Singh traces the incredibly phenomenal rise of the founder of Bandhan Bank that has Rs.12,500 crore deposit now

Read More

Chef Robot

A love for dosas led to two friends in college fabricate an automatic dosa maker that is making waves by enabling chefs roast the crispy dosas that they were earlier not able to make outside Tamil Nadu. Usha Prasad has the interesting story

Read More

Nursing small towns

After experiencing the trials and tribulations of people from small towns and villages in seeking medical facilities, Dinesh Batra vowed to take specialised health care to smaller places. Today he is living his dreams, says Narendra Kaushik

Read More
 
Kudos image

"The Weekend Leader not only gives a glimpse of the better things happening around us but also tells stories of people who made it possible.”

Ajay Chaturvedi, Entrepreneur More Kudos
 
Archives  |   Columns  |   About Us  |   Contact Us  |   Feedback  |   Response  |     |   Cheers!  |   Support Us  |   Friends of Positive Journalism
© Copyright The Weekend Leader.com, 2010. All rights reserved.