I have seen this common trait in Indians, we love Discounts. We love to bargain. We will buy cheap goods at exorbitant prices if they double the price and then give a 40% discount. ( The product is being sold at 150% the normal price at a 40% discount, but Indians don’t care). We haggle with roadside traders. We haggle with people trying to make a living.
But do we haggle in a Nike showroom? Or at Pizzahut? No, that would be taken as a black mark against our status. “How can you bargain at an Adidas showroom? “ But a lady software engineer earning Rs. 2000 per day finds it Natural to haggle with a roadside Banana Seller, for reducing 2 rupee for buying 3 kilograms of banana together. We will go to a person selling a wallet at roadside and if he says 175, we will definitely say 100, he will say 150, we will say 125, and poor guy, he will agree to 130. We will go home, happy, we got it for 45 rupee less. The poor man who will go home, after a whole day of standing in sun, with may be a 10 rupee profit.
But then Indians are always ready to bargain and make the poor more poor.
I saw this recent promotion called “Meter Jam”. Yet again, Indians are taking on those who are lower than then on the food chain. It is a web promotion, that in itself shows the targeted audience. The major part of the Campaign is done on Facebook, that still narrows down the users to those who are having an internet connection, possibly high end jobs, students who are still supported by families and people bleeding their families. This campaign is never gonna reach the poor or those who are the needy, who will save a lot if auto charges were less. This campaign might most probably conceived in an AC room, and most of the Facebook like’s/ comments being made from AC Rooms of corporate offices or comfortable beds at home, or personal study rooms.
I really got to ask, WHY is this so much of a concern. Is that because, those people don’t deserve getting paid? Or is it their reluctance to go to places that makes this young hyper violent group of people with lives around Facebook, ready to tie in their boots to get out and kick some unfortunate ass.
There is a life outside Facebook and Twitter. There is no much chance of a REAL auto driver, may be all but this guy, reading any of these comment that are being spread all over the net. They wont care, it is beyond them. These people live in a world completely different from the corporate 4-walls. They live in a world where taking care of parents is a liability that they are doing with a lot of trouble, where buying a school bag for their kid is a whole days wager. Who have not even taken their wife on a holiday till now. Yes they need to make money too. This is the way they do it. Night journeys are those when they get a chance to make money. They use it. But most rickshaw drivers are reasonable. I am not saying there are no assholes in the line up. There are many who are ready to extort money out of the consumer, many with faulty meters.
You feel it is a crime when they try to make more money than they deserve, or what the meter clocks . How many of the corporate lackeys can say with conviction that they get paid only the amount they deserve, that they are fully dedicated to what they do? Everyone wants more money than they deserve, it is human trait, just because these auto drivers want to get money from those who they think has a lot of it, it is a crime.
If you want to pay them back for that, lodge police complaints against them, their names and auto numbers are known. But there are also legitimate auto drivers who make a living out of driving people to places. I remember an old auto driver, wearing a skulcap, who took me from Koramangala to Indiranagar at meter rate at 1130 pm the amount was 55 Rupees, usually all meters clock more than 60. I tried paying him 70. He said, he is doing this to feed his wife, and he does not deserve more than that amount shown on the meter. He wants only truthful money. Those people are out there, and this outburst of well fed and spoiled young blood is going to affect them feeding their family.
There are a thousand auto drivers in the city. If they are reluctant to go short distances, then it is because it will take them away from a prime location, where they can make money, to some location that wont pay them much, or keep them logged in jams that will make their whole day a mess.
Every big Hotel and bar, and other institution has a board outside.
“Right to Admission Reserved”, this means the hoteliers can kick out, or deny entrance to anyone who they deem to be inappropriate. The auto drivers got the same right, just as a freelancer got options to take a high paying or a low paying job.
Take on the poor, that is the motto of the day, how about this young, fighting force do something useful and worthwhile, and yeah, if I say this, the next question is what have I done.
What I have not done, is not take away a man’s right to make money. To live.
What I have done, is pay a poor man his money so he can buy himself dinner and If I earn about 10 times more than him everyday, I don’t find it a capital crime. Selfishness is not just corporate culture, these auto drivers do this for living. This Meter Jam is just a protest that is just about inconveniencing yourself. Like those Left organizes Hartals. Inconvenience people in the name of a pseudo protest.
Note: after hearing about this Meter Spam, my room mate has decided to travel to Majestic five times, and tip the auto driver.