The merits of a free ride (The Hindu)
Mains Paper 1: Society
Prelims level: Not Much
Mains level: Gender equality and promotion of public transport
- The Delhi government’s proposal to make metro and bus travel free
for women not only encourages women to use public transport more, but also
allows them to occupy public spaces more and exercise their right to work
and commute much more freely.
- According to various studies, women’s choices (and often those of
their spouses and families) about work are determined by their commuting
experience, including the availability of modes of transport, distance of
the workplace from their residence, presence of other women during commute,
and safety of the overall route.
- For many families, it is the cost of commute that determines their
choice of work.
- A recent report by Deloitte revealed that female labour force
participation fell to 26% in 2018 from 36.7% in 2005 amidst the larger
- A move like this could therefore increase productivity and women’s
participation in the economy.
Implications from this move
- This move could make the Delhi metro accessible to working-class
women for whom the metro has always been an aspirational vehicle.
- Given that the principal logic of any public service is that it
should be inclusive, free (or at least inexpensive) access to metro trains
and buses must also necessarily extend to the urban working poor, students,
the differently abled, and senior citizens albeit with an option of
self-exclusion for those who can afford it. Post metro fare hikes in 2017,
ridership dropped by over three lakh passengers per day, owing to increased
- Ecologically too, in a polluted city like Delhi, universalising
cheap access to public transport and disincentivising private vehicles as
much as possible is the need of the hour.
- Those arguing that this move would reinforce the idea that women
are the ‘weaker sex’ often turn a blind eye to the notion of equality when
it comes to acknowledging large gender pay gaps, how women rampantly indulge
in unpaid labour, or how public spaces are visibly gendered.
- This is not to say that the government’s proposal will
automatically lead to safer environments for women.
- It must be supplemented with efforts towards greater capacity
building, increased frequency of metros and buses, provision of all-women’s
coaches and buses, street lighting, stepping up last-mile connectivity,
deployment of women guards, and so on.
- And most important is the need for radical attitudinal shifts.
Discussing the merits of a proposal like this and learning from examples
around the world is important rather than attacking it the minute it is
Q.1) Which one of the following is the best description of the term
(a) In this type of offences, the complainant can enter into a compromise
and agree to have the charges dropped against the accused.
(b) In this type of offence, the accused may be released on bail on executing a
(c) These are offences where a police officer can arrest a person without
(d) These are the offences where a person is punished for contempt or disregard
of judicial bodies.
Q.1) The Delhi government’s proposal encourages the use of public
transport, is gender inclusive and ecologically sound. Comment.
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