Govt goes to schools, looks for girls who will drive autos

The city’s transport department has received a proposal on tapping potential women autorickshaw drivers by going to government schools and colleges for holding workshops and conducting training modules.

The idea is to attract students, who are already 18-year-old or would turn 18 in their last academic year in school, and hence would be eligible to apply for a driving licence immediately after passing out of school.

This proposal by a social activist caught the attention of officials who said they were open to “explore its feasibility”.

However, there seems to be a minor hurdle in the way.

Since a commercial licence holder has to be at least 20-year-old, the challenge lies in sustaining these women’s interest in autorickshaw driving as a profession after they
get an initial driving licence made on turning 18, said an
official.

A commercial licence applicant is supposed to have two years of driving experience.
A senior transport department official said: “We are committed to promote women autorickshaw drivers but very few women have been coming forward to take up the task.”

“There is no doubt that women drivers would be a boon to women commuters,” he said.

“I do not think this will add to women passengers’ security,” said Vinod Kumar, a volunteer of an NGO.

“But we can definitely expect them to be more polite and courteous,” he said, adding that the introduction of commercial women drivers has been successful only in radio cabs not in autorickshaws.

Out of nearly one lakh autorickshaw drivers in the capital, just three are women.
One of the most prominent faces among this minority is Sunita Chowdhary, a resident of south Delhi, who became the first woman autorickshaw driver in Delhi.

Rakesh Agarwal of NGO Nyay Bhoomi said a young woman’s desire to take up autorickshaw driving as a profession would be determined by the economic status of her family.

“The person should be keen to be self-dependent and earn either while studying or soon after Class 12,” he said, pointing to the past experience of women undergoing training but not taking up the profession.

“Social pressure usually keeps women away from driving autorickshaws,” said Agarwal and added, “Students from families where some members already ride an autorickshaw may be more interested in such a profession.”

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