From living on the margins of society to living a life of dignity, transgenders in Punjab may well receive the life changing opportunity to serve as conductors and safety guards on buses.
Life has been looking good for transgenders on paper lately. The Supreme Court of India has ruled: “The spirit of the Constitution is to provide equal opportunity to every citizen to grow and attain their potential, irrespective of caste, religion or gender.” The court’s judgement provided for quotas for transgenders in education too.
In 2010, the Punjab government created a separate category in application forms, under which transgender people could apply for government jobs. Transgenders make up roughly 2% of the total population of the state.
But have things really improved on the ground? Most transgenders still have to beg for living, relying on people’s superstitious notions that earning a blessing from them in exchange for a few coins will somehow bring luck.
In this context, a one off effort by the East District of Delhi last year to rope in transgenders to advise women on safety issues while using public transport was a welcome change.
Now, if Punjab traffic adviser Navdeep Asija has his way, the state government may soon provide jobs to members of the transgender community as bus conductors and security officers.
Asija brought up the idea during the hearing of a case on public transport before the high court in Punjab last week. Although this case is mainly about the safety of school children in buses, it has, given several incidents related to harassment and even molestation of women, become more about general safety now.
Last year in Punjab, a woman and her daughter were thrown off a bus by a conductor for resisting molestation. The news made national headlines and brought into the forefront the issue of women’s safety in not just the state but all over North India.
Asija, an IIT-D alumnus, is determined to take his idea to the highest authorities. “I’ll move a proposal with the transport department soon,” he told the Times of India.