There has been a lot of brouhaha recently about the status of women in India. As is human (and media) wont, all the attention has been on the dark side of the matter – female infanticide, child marriage, female literacy, sexual harassment and rape. Perhaps, on this particular issue, all the sensationalist discussion is needed – to raise consciousness and trigger a nation wide movement to raise the status of women. Because clearly, as a nation, we need to do a lot more for our daughters. But, and there is always a but, I think it’s time to balance the picture being painted of India’s Daughters. And what better way than to recount yet another discourse I had in a tuk-tuk?
The more I travel using public transport, the more I feel that real life gets played out on the street and not in glassed-off offices and residential enclaves. For, it is here that one senses palpable human spirit and the dreams of people. That’s not all. It’s also only on the street that one gets to feel the pulse of people.
Listen in on what one Mumbai tuk-tuk driver had to say about his daughters who are very much India’s Daughters.
The discourse began when the rickshaw driver exchanged some missives with my sister and self on the traffic conditions of Mumbai city. All three of us agreed that city planning was terrible and that there was too much corruption.
After some grumbling and distressed head shaking, the tuk-tuk driver suddenly perked up, informing us, “There is hope though with the Narendra Modi government at the center. Yeh jo government ne betiyon ke liye naya scheme nikala hai, bahut badiyan hai.” Translated the last bit reads “This new scheme the government has introduced for girl children is very good.”
Without waiting for my sister or I to respond, the tuk-tuk driver continued, warming up to his subject.
“Do you know about the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign? Under that, I can open a Sukanya Samridhi Account for my two daughters. I have already done so. Even if I just deposit Rs. 1000 a year, that money will accumulate at a 9.1% higher interest rate till my daughters are 21 years of age.”
He proceeded to give us detailed calculations of how much money he plans to save and deposit. He was able to tell us to the naya paisa (down to the last penny) just what his savings target was for his daughters. And what those regular deposits would fetch when his Sukanya Samridhi accounts finally mature.
“Hum apna dono betiyon ko padhana chahte hai. Hum unhe achha English school mein padhayenge. Maine unhe daakhil bhi kar diya.” (I want to see both my daughters educated in good English-medium schools and have already admitted them).
His words were most touching and brought a lump to my throat. You should have been there and you, too, would have heard the love, hope and pride just ring out with each word he spoke.
Here was a tuk-tuk driver working all-day long ferrying passengers in the congested, polluted roads of Mumbai. How much money could he be earning? Yet, he had not only opened Sukanya Samridhi Accounts for his daughters, he had also incurred the expense of good schooling.
I am sure he and his wife were making sacrifices and doing without many a thing to lay a sound foundation for the future of their daughters.
To my way of thinking, this one tuk-tuk driver is a Son of India to be proud of. And with what he (and his wife) are doing for their girl children, I am sure that tomorrow their progeny will grow up to be India’s Daughters who will in turn do their parents and the nation proud.
- To understand why this post is titled Another Discourse in a Tuk-Tuk, please read an earlier post Discourse in a Tuk-Tuk.
- The entire discourse was in Hindi. I have published the dialogue here in English for the benefit of readers who may not be familiar with the language. Where I have used phrases in Hindi to add a local flavour, I have translated the phrases as best as I can in English.
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Featured Image Credit: Busy Public Transport Scene – Image by Lata Subramanian.
Jai Hind!* – a patriotic slogan that varyingly means ‘Hail India’, ‘Victory to India’ or ‘Long live India’.
Lata Subramanian: Discourse in a Tuk-Tuk
The Economic Times, Jan 22, 2015: Prime Minister Narendra Modi launches Sukanya Samridhi Yojna under Beti Bachao campaign.