A surprise experience in a 'peace' auto

A surprise experience in a 'peace' auto
Ever entered an auto in which the driver greets you with a smile, travels by the meter, takes you to your destination without a fuss, gives you the exact change and even provides you a set of books to leaf through? 

Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it? But thanks to Anil Shetty, an author and social entrepreneur, this is slowly becoming a reality. 

Anil is the founder of Peace Autos, a phenomenon that came into being on October 2, 2013 and is slowly catching up. 

“I made friends with a few auto drivers in Koramangala and started this off on a small scale,” he explains. 
 
“Peace Autos is an initiative to make peace between the City and auto drivers. There is a one-sided argument that all auto drivers are bad. But that’s not true,” he says and adds, “I want to make them feel responsible.”

Peace Autos is a part of the World Peacekeepers Movement, that was founded by Dr Huzaifa Khorakiwala, CEO and Trustee – Wockhardt Foundation. 
 
“When I was organising the Bangalore Peace Walk in July last year, I invited the auto drivers for it too. I felt it was important to connect with them on a one-on-one basis as they too have a number of problems to deal with,” he informs.

Currently, around 100 Peace Autos ply on the roads. “We invest Rs 3,000 on each auto to buy books and other things. By the end of this year, we want to have at least 500 such autos,” he says. 

In fact, to honour the auto drivers for their contribution to society, Anil also held an award show titled ‘Peace Auto Awards’ at a five-star hotel. 

“We had categories like ‘the youngest auto driver’ and ‘the most honest auto driver’. Some have served the City for 25-30 years and their efforts need to be recognised. Just like the police, they are public servants too,” he adds. A radio show dedicated to them is also on the cards. 

N Raghu, the first auto driver to join the movement, says it has been a wonderful experience. 
 
“People respect you a lot. Senior citizens, in particular, are very happy. In fact, many people keep asking us if we require any support,” he notes. 

A resident of Bommanahalli, Raghu is at the Peace Auto Stand in Koramangala and coordinates with most of the other drivers.

 “I make sure that everyone is dressed properly and well behaved,” he affirms.
A number of youngsters are involved in the movement too. One of the most active ones is Alok Singh, a student of RV College of Engineering. 

“I am from North India and most outsiders have always had communication problems with the auto drivers here. So this is a great initiative. 

I help with the managerial and social marketing aspect of it. All we expect from the auto drivers is to follow the meter and be polite to the passengers,” he notes. 
 
And the citizens who have used these autos are full of praises for them. Says Anamika Datta, who works with Flipkart.com, “Though I’d seen many Peace Autos outside Raheja Arcade (in Koramangala), I didn’t know much about them earlier. Alok told me about the whole initiative,” she says. 

“Once I had to go from Raheja to Forum and when this Peace Auto said no, I couldn’t believe it. But he explained to me that he was already booked and actually helped me find another auto and told him to charge me the correct amount,” she adds. 

“The best thing is they don’t fight with you over the fare. They also speak multiple languages so those who don’t know Kannada don’t face a problem,” she sums up.   

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