At a time when the auto drivers have been made out to be the devil on the road, and many a time, rightly so, a group of drivers have started an initiative to reclaim their lost reputation. So next time you hail an auto and find a mini library and stickers that read 'Passenger is God' and 'You are the hero of your movie, I am the hero of mine. Let us not judge each other', you might just change your impression about auto drivers.
Brainchild of author and social entrepreneur Anil Shetty and Dr Huzaifa Khorakiwala, CEO and trustee of The Wockhardt Foundation, Peace Auto campaign is bringing about an attitudinal change among auto drivers.
"This initiative is for the betterment of their own fraternity and also for the society," said Shetty, adding that the underlying issues need to be understood if we want to auto drivers to better their behaviour.
"We have found that many of them have to tackle several problems. Their behaviour stems from their problems. We need to address those as well," said Shetty.
He has plans to soon start a Peace Auto Welfare Fund. "Each cluster will have 25 auto drivers and they will have a common account. They will be asked to deposit `100 each in that account every month. During emergencies, they can withdraw upto Rs 5,000 without levy of any interest," he said.
Mundane conversations over a period of one year gave Shetty the idea. Travelling everyday from Koramangala, he would talk to the drivers about their problems.
"And one day, they all came together and celebrated my birthday. That day I decided that something had to be done to help this lot," said Shetty.
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In addition to this, Shetty also plans to give away an award for the best auto driver. "A voting format will be placed in autorickshaws. The customer just has to vote for the auto driver by sending an SMS to a specified number. The driver with the maximum votes will win," said Shetty.
Even though there are only seven auto drivers on board now, Shetty claimed that 30 more have shown interest.
The initiative will be officially launched today in Koramangala by Ramalinga Reddy, state minister for Transport.