Less than 100 Rs a Day

By the Editor: Siddharth Sehgal

It was a blistering summer afternoon and I had just came out of the metro station of Sector 34, Noida when the blistering Sun made me changed my mind of walking to my apartment complex roughly a kilometer or so away. I looked around and found a sole cycle rickshaw that was waiting there for passengers. I went up to the man, told him where I needed to go and sat at the back seat with tiny foldable shade. I am not obese, at least I think so, but pulling a guy with a minimum 85 kg of weight in blistering sun is no easy task for anyone. I felt embarrassed but its bread and butter for him. When I reached my destination after few minutes, I gave him Rs. 40 and expected to receive Rs. 10 back but he said he did not had any change as I was his first customer. For a moment I was transfixed, I handed him the money in hand and went my way but in the retrospection I think it would have done no harm had I handed him Rs. 100.

The thing that pinched me most is that even on a very good day a rickshaw puller would not be able to make more than 200-300 rupees and most people in Delhi and surrounding region prefer other faster means of transport. So on a normal day a rickshaw puller would not be able to make more than 200 rupees which means 6000 Rs a months will be a luxury for him and if I make a realistic guess, a rickshaw puller may be making not more than three to four thousand a month which means not more than 100 Rs in a normal day. In a city like Delhi and with a family to feed, this money will not get you anywhere. These rickshaw pullers work in blistering Indian summer and do not get the luxury of cold water.  It’s back breaking labor and I don’t think many people appreciate the hard work these men do.

What kind of society have we become? It’s not that we are short of cash or can’t do anything about inequality that exists in our society but, I don’t see any will, neither political nor social, to address this gaping injustice. The rickshaw pullers, sweepers, guards at the gate of your colony or apartment complex and countless others who serve us in odd number of ways, these people have families too, they too want a good future for their children and what have we done for them?

We in the middle class should be thankful that we don’t get to see the struggles of our fellow countrymen from the disfranchised sections of our society. At least we should try to develop a sense of empathy, may be that will lead to something but I think we should do more to help alleviate the problem of poverty in this country. It’s not the job of government to make difference in people’s lives, it’s ours. Let’s not run away from it.

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