Gender inequality or visionary: Delhi divided on free travel for women

Sarthak Burman

New Delhi, June 11: Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal's announcement of making Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus and Delhi Metro services free for women in Delhi has raised quite a storm.

Not only are just men countering such a biased proposal, there is difference of opinion even among members of the female wing. While some of them believe it is a good move to strengthen women community, some are of the view that such practices aren't healthy in a state that preaches equality.

Arvind Kejriwal said the Delhi government would bear the expense of the scheme, estimated around Rs 700-750 crore for the year he also added that women who can afford these mode of transport can forgo the subsidy so that others could benefit.

What does AAP want to achieve out of its new freebie promise?

The debate is if at all people's safety and welfare have to be taken care of and Delhi government's budget is allowing that, then prevailing Metro and bus services should be assured for safety and Metro ticket prices should be reduced by a considerable amount for all, rather than relaxing them for one section of the society.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's proposal to make DTC bus and metro services free for women in the national capital region is a good move and will empower women, many people including women feel that the Delhi government should try reducing metro ticket prices by a "considerable amount" for everyone and not just one section of the society, so that there is no inequality but many people have started complaining against this proposal that it would increase footfall for the people who travel by Delhi metro on a daily basis as it would make travel inconvenient.

Aditi Sharma, a recent graduate from Jesus and Mary College, University of Delhi, believes that the move is welcome, provided that the government has enough funds and infrastructure to cover the policy. She says the move is a welcome change for the betterment of women." She believes that this move will be very beneficial for all women, especially for those who are studying and have no earnings of their own".

However, not all women believe that the move is appropriate or feasible. Muskan Goel, an undergraduate student at the University of Delhi, says the move is a step away from the empowerment of women. "Such moves, which apply to all women irrespective of their financial status, make people believe that women are inferior to men, especially financially inferior," she said. "Moreover, she does not think it affects safety. We already have special reserved coached and seats for women in the metro, and free travel does not seem to be any safer in her eyes".

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According to Richa Singh; a student of History at Hindu College, the implementation of this scheme to provide free transport to all women appears to be dicey. "Even if it is a choice-based scheme where those who can afford these services can opt out of free rides, But she thinks that the move is positive. According to her, a lot of people who are being dismissive of this scheme are completely overlooking its benefits for women of the lower classes and lower castes, and of those who do not get support at home. "Such a scheme helps women who are not financially independent. Women who have to travel a lot for education can avail it. It will help women shift from more unsafe means like autos and hitching rides to taking the metro, which is not as prone to harassment with women its coaches".

However, according to Dhruv and Vansh, two undergraduate students, this is one more step towards gender inequality where the women section will be getting all the benefits and the male section of the society have to suffer. They say this is a next level discrimination against men. They think that Delhi Govt. needs to take more serious measures to control crime against women rather than providing them with free rides.

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