A Woman in the Metro

On Monday, at a press conference, The Delhi Government announced free Metro rides for every woman in Delhi.

Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal announced voluntary free rides in metro trains and buses for women travellers, which would cost approximately Rs 1,600 crore a year.

“We don’t need the Centre’s permission for this. The Delhi governmentl will bear the cost,” Kejriwal stated.

https://www.livemint.com/news/india/delhi-cm-arvind-kejriwal-announces-free-travel-for-women-on-metro-buses-1559549805536.html

Soon after the announcement, the people voiced their opinions. Some appreciated the sentiment but most expressed concern over the seemingly unplanned nature of the announcement.

I have travelled on the Delhi Metro. It’s honestly a well-thought out, comfortable and most probably the fastest way to travel through Delhi. However, with such a sudden initiative being undertaken several noteworthy questions arise and wait to be addressed.

The questions boil down to-

  • By women, is it meant residents of Delhi or just all women? That would include the thousands of immigrants living at the borders of Delhi, too poor to afford a Metro ride.
  • If this initiative was for helping these women, wouldn’t the increased number put a remarkable strain on the functioning of the Metro?
  • If the Metro is then full of women who are availing free rides, isn’t that unfair to the men who had the Metro as a convenient and affordable transportation and were quite willing to pay for every ride?

The emphasis is on the women. However, is there any provision for a woman with a child? If there isn’t is the woman supposed to buy a ticket for her child but she can go ahead free?

These questions are of a purely logical basis. The logistical sides of this issue are more complex.

The Delhi Metro uses a token-barrier system for entry and exit. If a considerable chunk of the travelers don’t need to pay, will they use different tokens than the paid ones? What is preventing the misuse of these tokens?

The identification of different genders would take on-spot personnel and highly increased manpower from all sectors of the government. An effective and all-encompassing strategy needs to be carried out to cope up with the surge of people. One can’t help but wonder how this seemingly Herculean task can be executed.

The main objective of this initiative is to create a safer and more hospitable environment for women in Delhi. To encourage the prospective female passenger in Delhi to travel through the Metro and to assure her of complete safety and security. It creates a contradiction. Are the streets of Delhi not safe at all that this measure is being undertaken?

Which should be the primary concern here? Facilitating free transportation or improving the safety on the streets?

A comprehensive and exhaustive implementation of this initiative would require a detailed plan and increased assistance from the Delhi Police. It would most likely require a complete overhaul of an already well-functioning, established and accommodating system. 

This initiative was introduced before the upcoming Assembly elections. The atmosphere of Delhi is akin to any city in India. A significant chunk of men are insensitive to women’s problems. The cases of harassment and sexual assault occur with a disturbing frequency. For us as a part of a nation, of a society we honor the right to a peaceful life primarily.

Instead of a sudden initiative that seems all-encompassing, a series of careful, conscious and encompassing decisions are the need of the hour. This issue of safety for every citizen needs a conscious and active citizen collaborating with a vigilant and attentive government.


Sources-

  1. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-485100062.
  2. https://www.businesstoday.in/current/economy-politics/free-delhi-metro-rides-for-women-not-feasible-hardeep-singh-puri-kejriwal-jumla/story/354210.html

Image link- https://www.indiatoday.in/mail-today/story/delhi-women-molested-by-same-man-at-metro-station-1088274-2017-11-17

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The Power of One

It was 2.30 pm in Delhi, near Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

Modi was being sworn-in as the Prime Minister for the second time. Scores of loyalists and BJP workers were invited to this grand return to power. For the faithful, it was as if Modi never skipped a step and was duly appointed by the people once again.

There were families in the crowds of the faithful. From West Bengal, a farm laborer, Sadha Midha had arrived in Delhi for the first time. Smoking a bidi near the gates, he waits for a glimpse of Modi. For him meeting Modi isn’t the final fruition of his unwavering support and hard work for the BJP but to express his demand for justice for the death of his brother, Haradhan Midha.

Campaigning and supporting the BJP turned out to be fatal for 32 BJP workers in West Bengal. They were caught up in conflicts with the workers from the Trinamool Congress and lost their lives. Pranti is not alone. All the families of the recently killed demand swift and sure justice. They demand justice from one man. The singular representative of the law, order, and justice for them. 

Seemingly the only person they can turn to now. Mr. Narendra Modi.

In the spacious head office of the BJP, Jharna Pranti sits on the floor accompanied by her son. Her husband Joydeb was killed in conflicts with local TMC workers. In their family, he was the sole breadwinner. Pranti declares,

“I want Narendra Modi to ensure that my husband’s killers are hanged.” 

Narendra Modi has had a dream run. Ever since bursting onto the scene in 2014, he materialized into the national consciousness. For people all over of the country, highly let down due to the fall of Anna Hazare and AAP, Modi became a beacon of hope and progress. The common citizens hoped that he would lift them from the abject drudgery they had struggled under. Symbolizing this power of hope, Modi rode the wave to victory. However, since winning Modi has become a part of an unexpected phenomenon.

People look up to him for advice and strength. His humble beginnings are now adapted into biopics. Politicians contest under his name and reputation. News stations cover the scope of his achievements non-stop. Nationwide policies and programs are launched under his directions. An entire country is changed overnight after a news announcement. Modi transformed from a beacon of hope to a symbol of resolute power. A power that can be trusted and power that always helps the ones who have no voice.

I wonder what is like to be in the shoes of a man with such power. The hopes, dreams, and aspirations of a billion people rest on your shoulders. They have entrusted their futures to you. Is this power that is corrupting or humbling? It depends on the person. It depends on what kind of a man Modi is.

A man with so much power is always the center of controversy, conflict, and faith. There will always be people who cannot entrust so much power in the hands of one person, whoever it might be. Likewise, there will always be the people who entrust power in the hands of a man who symbolizes hope, progress and justice.

Perspective is a flawed thing. It sees things from one angle and omits out a significant chunk that we should be paying attention to. However, when looking at a man with power, perspective is necessary. Those families from West Bengal shared one perspective.

What is your perspective on power and justice?


Excerpts from- Kin of Bengal BJP workers wait for jobs, justice, and a glimpse of Modi published in THE INDIAN EXPRESS, Written by Amitava Chakraborty|New Delhi | May 31, 2019, https://indianexpress.com/article/india/kin-of-bengal-bjp-workers-wait-for-jobs-justice-and-glimpse-of-modi-5757442/

Photo courtesy- Express photo by Renuka Puri https://images.indianexpress.com/2018/09/modi111.jpg