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Rakesh (29)
‘The govt gives us nothing, takes what we already have ’

18th Jul 2015

Q. Where are you originally from and how long have you been living in Delhi?

A. I am from Pura, which is a small village near Chandausi in the district of Moradabad. That's where I was born. But it's been long since I've been here. This is my 13th year in Delhi, so far as I can remember.

Q. And you've been plying a rickshaw to earn your living ever since?

A. No. I earlier ran a kiosk, selling gol gappas and other snacks to passers-by in a small locality. I liked that job, and there was good money in it. But then, one of my kids took seriously ill. I still don't know what the illness was, but it was severe enough to require an expensive treatment. I had to mortgage all I had back then, and had to sell off my business. The only alternative left to me was that I begin plying a rickshaw to earn by daily keep. This was around eight years ago, and I have been doing it since.

Q. Are are still getting enough customers, given that people around these parts now prefer to travel by e-rickshaws?

A. Yes, e-rickshaws have certainly dampened our trade. Where earlier I used to earn some Rs 300-400 a day, my income is now reduced to around half that figure. I can't also buy an e-rickshaw, since it's so costly. I have heard it costs over a lakh. And then you need to find a secure space to park it. Too much hassle, all this. Besides, you have to pay extra to all sorts of people, including the cops, to get the permission to ply an e-rickshaw on these roads. So I am happy with what I have.

Q. Do you have any message for the government authorities?

A. The government can't offer anything. They can only take what we already have, and not offer anything. I have no expectations from them. But, yes, I do return to my village every five years to cast my vote. I did so last year, too. But what have I got in return? Nothing. I have been doing the same thing for close to a decade now. I hope my children are given a better deal.

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