Person of the Year 2015
Vol 6 Issue 4, Jan 23 - 29, 2015
    Citizen Reporters      |   | Submit Story
Green WarriorsSocial EntrepreneursUnsung Heroes

Young saviours pull out rickshaw pullers from the abyss

   By  Roohi Saluja Sehgal
   Noida
27 Jan 2015
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:

Cast in stone

Chasing a hit-and-run lorry turned out to be an eye-opener for Bastu Rege as it led him to a stone quarry. Kavita Kanan Chandra meets the founder of Santulan, who has his plans cast in stone

Read More

Smart mobility

It is good times for Indian telecom companies in the next three years when online market will explode with smartphone users growing six times and buying five times more content, says a study

Read More
Stories on Innovations & Innovators
THE LEAD STAR
adyar bakery
 
Mentoring Tamil Nadu



Popular Stories

Milky boom

The success of Milky Mist, a dairy company, is a story linked to the big dreams of T Sathish Kumar, a class 8 drop out. P C Vinoj Kumar tells us how a 16-year-old turned his father’s floundering business around by giving it a new identity

Read More

Missing Nobel

Winner of many awards for his social work in Mumbai slums, Jockin Arputham missed the Nobel Peace in 2014. But for people whose life he changed through his dedication, he is indeed an ‘arputham’ (miracle, in Tamil), says Kavita Kanan Chandra

Read More

Saviour on street

Whatever job he was in, S M Venkatesh saved abandoned people from the streets. Now, his Agal Foundation works with Helpage India, responding to distress calls, quickly and efficiently, as P C Vinoj Kumar found through a snap sting operation

Read More

Saving children

Starting with a night shelter for children of sex workers, Prerana has come a long way providing support to women stuck in Mumbai’s red light district. Kavita Kanan Chandra retraces Priti Patkar’s 28-year journey that has saved many a child

Read More

Good ball

To counter ‘guns and drugs’, a culture that he saw abroad, Chetan Misra mentors children through football, which he believes is a tool for social and holistic development. Through ‘TheFootballLink’, he promotes the game, says Partho Burman

Read More

Bringing water

By reviving a traditional irrigation system, using modern techniques, an NGO, Gramya Vikash Manch, has channeled water to three parched districts of Assam, raising hopes of a bumper harvest

Read More

Goals to score

From behind the veil, a group of Muslim girls in Mumbra dreamt big and have realised it. First, they learnt playing football, against all odds, and have set up a club. Now they have plans for intellectual pursuits, says Kamayani Bali-Mahabal

Read More

A terminator

Learning that his mother’s swollen legs were caused by mosquitoes, Ignatius Orwin Noronha always wanted to exterminate the blood sucker. Now, he has developed MozziQuit, which promises to make India mosquito free by 2019, says Partho Burman

Read More

Height of concern

From a school teacher in Gurgaon to a benefactor supporting 38,000 students in Ladakh, Sujata Sahu has trekked great heights. Partho Burman tells us about her 17,000ft Foundation that engages volunteer-tourists to help students in the hills

Read More

Martyr’s wife

After losing her husband in an armed conflict in Kashmir, Subhashini Vasanth embarked on a mission to help war widows. A journey with twists and turns has now enabled her to make a difference in the lives of many women, says Tisha Srivastav

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.