Six km from Barasat there’s a village where 80 families own over 200 taxis. Locals have christened the village, originally called Kirthipur, ‘Taxigram’ and families here have been raising their sons to follow in a long line of taxi drivers, for the last 25 years. Essentially because of a total lack of other job prospects, more than 80% of the families have resorted to driving taxis in this village.
Driving is a skill that has been passed on from generation to generation, in Taxigram. As soon as a boy here turns 18, he inherits his job. While some inherit the taxis of their forefathers, some work as drivers for other taxi owners.
Owner of three taxis, Abdul Seikh has inherited all three from his grandfather. “I drive one and the other two are driven by neighbour boys,” he said.
However, the inhabitants of this cab-ridden village are dissatisfied with the government’s lack of interest in bringing better reforms.
“We earn a meagre salary of Rs. 6000- Rs. 7000 a month, working as drivers for hired taxis. If the government supports us to buy our own taxis, we can have a better life with double the income,” Obaidullah Seikh, another driver, said.
“We live under very poor conditions; it is very difficult for families like ours - who drive others taxis - to make ends meet. With the ongoing price rise, it has become even more difficult to manage our daily lives,” he added.
If one visits the Kirthipur village in the middle of the night, they would see scored of taxis lining the road on both sides. However, during the day, the scene changes complete, and there is not a single cab to be seen on the roads - the men of the village having left in the wee hours of the morning.