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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