Union's Overarching Objectives

Issues faced by drivers number in dozens but they can be consolidated in three broad categories for their redressal:

1. Abolish fare control

Fare is decided by the government for autorickshaws and taxis, presumably, for the comfort, convenience and affordability of the passengers. The government also has to ensure promotion of public transport and competitiveness among various stakeholders. It is to address the issues that the government has given itself the legal power to fix fares for autorickshaws and taxis.

However, the same argument can also be advanced for any product or service out there in the market. Everything has a consumer, and if consumer interest is paramount, as in the case of autos and taxis, so it should be for every product or service, and the government should decide its price. We know this is a faulty argument. But so is selective price control for commuting.

You may see this article for a better understanding of our stand on fair control, and why we want it totally liberated from the clutches of the government.

In fact, we are against any interference from the government in any business. It should restrict itself to security, safety, justice, law and order, ensuring property rights, ensuring freedom of expression, and Light touch regulation for certain essential common good such as infrastructure, education, health services, water, electricity, roads and other essentials that individuals cannot produce for themselves without a regulatory environment.

2. Abolish permit system

In pre-liberalization era before 1991, almost everything was subject to quantitative controls and restrictions – on how much one can produce. Licence-permit-quota Raj term was coined in this era. If you needed a telephone connection, stand in a 10-year long queue. If you wanted to buy a Bajaj scooter, the queue was 12 year long. Gas cylinder would come on a scooter from 60 kilometres afar in black. And so on, and so forth.

Most of such controls were abolished in 1991. So far so good.

However, it surprises a common citizen to know that the regime of autorickshaws, taxis, e-rickshaws and other commercial vehicles continues to remain firmly in the vice-like grip of the government. How many of them will ply on a given road. what fare they will charge, what conditions shall apply to them, what area they can cover, what taxes they have to pay to cross a particular road or even take a U-turn from a certain point – all these are essential ingredients of the so-called permit system which is explicitly written in the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988.

One of our objectives is to abolish the permit system that will free up drivers from numerous controls and give them the liberty to pursue happiness and prosperity to the best of their abilities.

3. Abolish absurd laws

One law stipulates that drivers of commercial vehicles in Delhi shall wear grey uniform, whereas another law, which is one level below, states that drivers shall wear khaki uniform. Notwithstanding this contradiction, traffic police goes around challaning drivers who don’t wear grey.

It is mandatory for commercial vehicles to be painted with the name and address of the owner on both sides of the vehicle. It also has to have certain stripes painted on both sides. The law is quiet on essential specifications such as colour and size of the stripes.

A commercial vehicle also has to have a yellow number plate, regardless of the fact that all kinds of taxes and fees are collected these days through RFID and there is no reason for the collection staff to identify a vehicle as commercial one for the purpose of collection of taxes and fee. Apart from absurdity, having a different colour number plate makes it easy to identify commercial drivers and exploit and humiliate them.

The rulebook is filled with too numerous absurd laws to mention here.

IN ADDITION TO THE ABOVE, there are the issues of everyday corruption, exploitation, very expensive credit, lack of training, issues of safety and security, bad elements within drivers, infrastructural issues, etc. While some fall squarely within the government’s domain, the rest will be tackled by the drivers’ organizations once they are adequately strong numerically, financially and intellectually.