A dustbin. The day’s newspaper. A bottle holder. A higher roof, which also covers the rickshaw peddler. Cushioned seats.
Ram Shiromani Nirankari (42) is the proud owner of a new-age rickshaw that sports all these. Add to that his navy blue uniform and Nirankari, with his rickshaw, stands out wherever he goes.
It is all thanks to 20 students of Sri Ram College of Commerce, who’ve not only designed the new rickshaw but are also on a mission to ensure the rickshaw-wallahs get to own them.
Five rickshaw-wallahs, including Nirankari, have bought new-age rickshaws so far, with bank loans the students helped them get. Another 20 have had their loans approved.
By April, the students hope to get loans for at least 100 of the 1,000 rickshaw-wallahs who ply their vehicles in the area around Delhi University’s North Campus.
The price difference isn’t much — a conventional rickshaw costs around Rs 7,000, the one designed by the students Rs 8,200.
“Instead of peddling a rented, dilapidated vehicle for just Rs 40 per day, these rickshaw-wallahs are now owners,” said Radhika Goel, president of Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE), the group that is heading the initiative.
“The rickshaw the students have designed is much more comfortable to ride,” said Abhay Kumar, faculty adviser to SIFE.