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How is a Dial-an-Auto business making the lives of auto-drivers and commuters a lot more easier? Aishwarya Raman, co-founder of Auto Raja, shares her insights.
How is a Dial-an-Auto business making the lives of auto-drivers and commuters a lot more easier? Aishwarya Raman, co-founder of Auto Raja, tells us all about this unique enterprise.
Does commuting by an auto rickshaw mean endless negotiations, constant arguing on what route to take and staring at that ticking meter (which seems to tick faster every time?) like a hawk?
It’s safe to say that at some point, all Indians have done at least one of the above during a rickshaw commute – if not all.
But have you ever stopped to wonder why these are characteristics of travelling by autos? Why sometimes a space mission might seem more doable – needless to say call for a lot less negotiating? Is it the auto driver’s gluttony that’s asking for that ’10 rupees extra’, or is it because he makes very little on a daily basis to begin with? You’re about to find out!
In this Chai with Lakshmi conversation you’ll discover how one business is helping make the commute a whole lot easier for the passenger, which in turn, helps the driver too! This business is Auto Raja. Aishwarya Raman, the Co-founder of Auto Raja, says, “Auto drivers don’t have sufficient income to support their families. As a result, a lot of them live in slums… they don’t have access to institutional credit, education or medical benefits.”
While we’ve all had to face our share of auto woes, this is a conversation that shows you the flip side to the problem, and what can be done to solve it. This is a conversation you don’t want to miss!
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My house-help asked excitedly, “I am going for wedding. Can you let me wear your red & black saree? To be honest I was stumped for a moment; I didn’t know what to say but I still said yes.
I lent a gorgeous saree to my house-help for a wedding in her family. Soon I stated getting questions if I would wear that saree again or if I was okay to be seen wearing the same saree my house-help was wearing?
We are all so conditioned to give our used clothes to our house-helps but are we okay to wear the clothes they were wearing?
A few days ago she came excitedly to me, “I am going for a family wedding. I want to wear your red & black saree, Ill wash and give it to you after the function. Please can you let me wear it?”
Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum (SISP) is an ode to all of the lost women, who could have been sports stars, singers, bankers, lawyers, doctors, just... happy, if they hadn't been enslaved in matrimony, and then forgotten all about.
One of the cool things about my mother was that she was an ace athlete and a champion sculler as a young woman in the 1950s and 60s. I only found out about this side of her a few years ago. I imagine her in a paavaadai dhaavani, taking on the mighty Kaveri river so many decades ago.
I recently watched a Tamil film anthology on SonyLiv that she would have liked to watch – Sivaranjiniyum Innum Sila Pengalum, (SISP) that has 3 stories of 3 different women – Saraswathi, Devaki, and Shivaranjini.
Like all the heroines in the anthology, my mother’s talents were sacrificed at the altar of matrimony. She pawned her gold medals and silver cups one by one to pay for expensive textbooks for us or a gift for a niece on her wedding, money for which she didn’t dare ask my father, because it was her niece… I remember how she caressed the cups and how her face hardened as she shoved them into her bag to take to the jewellers.
Right now, my writing time is limited to time in the loo, my rickshaw commute, and the time when my daughter naps on the weekends.
“How are you finding time to write?”
“How are you able to do so many things, having a toddler and a full-time job?”
These are some of the questions that I am asked daily. While some people are in awe of what I do, the rest are just envious (come on, you can find the difference with the way they pose the questions to you).
The women auto rickshaw drivers are having a tough time in Chennai, as men regularly harass them by routinely throwing away their keys or threatening of violence.
The women auto rickshaw drivers are having a tough time in Chennai, as men regularly harass them by routinely throwing away their keys or threatening violence.
I have taken a lot of autorickshaws in my life, but I have never taken one driven by a woman. Typically public transport modes such as taxis and rickshaws and more are the domain of men. But things are changing. Since March 2014 several hundred women ply auto rickshaws in Chennai. They make their living and also offer an option for women travelers who feel more safe with women drivers and prefer to ride with them. But it hasn’t been an easy journey. They are routinely harassed and threatened by male autorickshaw drivers, who feel that the women threaten their source of income and even routinely throw away their keys, deflate tires as well as threaten physical violence. They have to worry about sexual assault and other threats and often have a self-imposed curfew. The prevailing tariffs aren’t always enough for them to make a living for themselves and their families. But more and more women continue to sign up with rickshaw companies, a hopeful sign. Other cities have taxi services run by women including Priyadarshini Taxi Service. If you know more, let us know by leaving a comment below.