Whenever we talk of bleak future of rickshaw pullers in India the first picture which come in our mind is the miserable condition of those rickshaw pullers of Kolkata. Even after a lot of concerns on the issue and bans on hand pulled rickshaw in Kolkata still we can find it plying on the roads of Kolkata.
One of the metro cities of India, Kolkata is known for poverty where still some obsolete technologies and traditional cultures exist and is in continuation.
The manufacture and use of two wheelers pulled carts in Kolkata started nearly at the end of 19th century and it is in use till the date. The design and basic technologies have remained unchanged since its inception except few virtual changes. Still rickshaws in Kolkata are playing important roles for city transport as a considerable number of rickshaws plying on the roads of Kolkata have been recorded.
According to a talk with some rickshaw pullers of Kolkata they asserts that many times they have been warned and told to end this job still they are involved in this job. Many times government banned hand pulled rickshaws in Kolkata city officially but it failed due to some practical problems coming in the way. The most practical problem which government find is the old narrow streets and lanes of Kolkata where there is no enough space for heavy public transport system. Kolkata is one of the oldest cities of India with quite old styles of buildings, roads and over bridges in rickety condition.
If we have a look into the problems from rickshaw pullers’ side the main problem lies in the fact that they don’t have any alternative job to do to earn their livelihood and that is why they still continuing such inhumane job in the age of computer and automobiles.
Most of these rickshaw pullers hire rickshaws from owners and pay a considerable part of earning as daily rent. After such physical torture throughout the day they hardly earn hundred or two hundred rupees. How heartening fact is this of our country where one corrupted officer simply charges lakhs or crores of rupees for putting his/her sign for making illegal work a legal one and a rickshaw puller protects and keep safe those corrupted officials from heat, rain and street water during rainy days only for a nominal charge. This simply shows we have still not achieved our aim of being a democratic country after independence. Unacceptable variation exists in living standard of different class of our country even after more than half century of independence.
We make rules to ban the rickshaws in city just to reduce the congestion and make better situation of traffic but I think hardly any rule maker has suggested ever to ban hand pulled rickshaw to stop physical torture of these rickshaw pullers and provide some other better jobs. I think government must pay some attention towards the bleak future of these rickshaw pullers.