After facing an unflattering defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s government set to work soon after the Model Code of Conduct was lifted the previous week.
One ground-shattering announcement the party made was to make bus and metro rides free for women.
Kejriwal said at a press conference, “Women will be given free rides in Delhi Metro, DTC and cluster buses.”
The move comes as a means to ensure women travel safety, and to encourage women to travel by ‘safer’ public transport, he further said.
The expenses for the same would amount up to around 700-800 crore for this year, and will entirely be borne by his government, ensuring that the DMRC incurs no loss.
The idea at first sounds exhilarating to the women commuters who spend thousands on travel via public transport every month.
But not everyone views this as a welcoming step.
Free Rides For Women- A Yes Or A No
The Kejriwal led government faced a bitter defeat in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, securing just one seat out of all the 40 that they contested in. This significant announcement by the Delhi government can be seen as an appeasement of women citizens ahead of the Assembly Polls early next year.
Ironically, the move has faced severe backlash from women themselves. Several women expressed their discontent on Twitter with the idea of travel being made free for them.
They questioned the very idea of the scheme. Most of the women commuters are financially privileged and in a position to afford the rides.
Making travel free-of-cost for them directly puts them on the receiving end of an unasked for charity, which raises the question of gender equality.
Making rides free for women does not practically mean that it makes travel by public transport safer for them. Women often have to take autos or rickshaws late in the evening/night to reach home from metro stations or bus stops.
This indeed is the ‘unsafe’ aspect of travelling for them, but has been overlooked.
Also, considering that most women using DTC buses or Delhi Metro are elite enough to afford them, it becomes unfair to incentivise travel for them when they are in a position to pay for it.
Wouldn’t it have been much better, had rides been made free for the economically weaker sections, for whom such travels bring a huge toll on the pockets?
Wouldn’t it be highly unfair if a pretty well-off Delhi girl travels for free, while an economically disadvantaged male has to pay for his travel?
Whatever the intentions of the Kejriwal government in introducing this move, as a 20-year-old Delhi girl, I view it with much apprehension.
The move re-iterates the idea of a modern woman as a “bechari nari”, whose ‘safety’ has to be ensured by means such as this.
The idea comes as a sheer blessing for women who are economically disadvantaged and find public transport unaffordable.
But making it free for ALL women, thumbs down for that.
I feel it would have been rather sensible to subsidize the rates than making it entirely free of cost.
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