As a part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, the government is facilitating the training of women who are currently working as manual scavengers, to begin working as cab drivers.
The first batch has 500 women who have already completed their training in driving and will now receive training in self-defence.
Picture for representation only. Source: lukexmartin/Flickr
The project has been taken up by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment as a part of the National Safai Karamcharis Finance & Development Corporation’s (NSKFDC) work. The corporation is responsible for rehabilitation of manual scavengers across the country. After their training, the women will begin working as commercial cab drivers in Delhi, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bengaluru and Mumbai. According to reports, the social justice ministry has tied up with cab service providers like Ola, Uber and Meru, along with airport taxis, to train 10,000 such Dalit women manual scavengers by 2019.
Mamtha Sangte from Ujjain, who has a black belt in taekwondo, will be training the first batch in self-defence. The 34-year-old was once a manual scavenger herself and she broke the cycle of poverty in her family by becoming a martial arts trainer.
To begin with this project, women who are part of families involved in manual scavenging in Delhi were recognised, and training camps were set up near their homes in areas like Rohini, Dwarka and Mangolpuri. The government has planned to set up 70 such camps in other cities as well, for which 12,226 manual scavengers have been identified in 12 states across the country. As a start, the ministry has released Rs. 67.02 lakh for training and rehabilitation of 2,390 manual scavengers and their dependants. They will be trained in soft skills like speaking with passengers too.
Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot and secretary Anita Agnihotri are also meeting the women in parks where their self-defence camps are set up.
“My family laughed at us when I told them I am going to be a driver. They told me steering wheel was not a toy. I was also scared. But after three months of driving, I may not be comfortable holding a pen, but I know my clutch, gears and brake really well,” a 21-year old told Economic Times.
Discussions to employ these women to drive the e-rickshaws that will soon be launched in Delhi, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad, Noida, and Faridabad, are also under way.