GS-2 Social Empowerment and issues related to women empowerment.
Context: The Delhi Cabinet has given its nod to the Aam Aadmi Party Government's Free Bus Ride Services for Women. Women will be able to get free rides using 'single-journey passes which will be available with the conductors and the same will be reimbursed to DTC by the Delhi Government at the rate of Rs. 10 per single journey pass. The scheme is voluntary and women who are willing to pay can buy tickets.
Background: Women will be able to get free rides using 'single-journey passes which will be available with the conductors and the same will be reimbursed to DTC by the Delhi Government at the rate of Rs. 10 per single journey pass. The scheme is voluntary and women who are willing to pay can buy tickets.
Advantages of the decision:
- The move is aimed at improving women’s mobility around the city.
- It will also help in curbing traffic congestion and also at reducing the environmental impact of private modes of transport.
- This will encourage companies to choose more women and enable the women in turn to take more spur-of-the-moment decisions linked closely to consumption and investment.
- Seeking to improve women’s footfall and faith in the public transport system, this step will particularly help women hailing from economically backward sections and reduce reliance on private modes of transport.
Criticism of the Decision:
- Once a concession is given to one section of commuters, immediate demands will arise from more deserving sections, such as students, the handicapped, and senior citizens.
- This trend will spread fast to all other public transports in the country, making them dependent on state governments for subsidies.
- Reimbursement of the revenue losses to the DMRC by the Delhi Government is a poor strategy. The amount involved is about Rs. 1,000 crore per annum. This will go on increasing as the metro network expands and with further fare hikes.
- While some critics have termed it as a populist measure lacking fiscal prudence, others have condemned it calling it a sexist move based on the assumption that women can’t pay for their tickets and for going against the grain of empowerment.
On a larger scale, Do Free amenities prove to be expensive to the sponsors?
- Yes, this holds true as each freebie granted to a particular section of the section has a cost that has to be incurred by the agency providing the free facility. In the above example, this cost is to be incurred by the Delhi government in the form of reimbursement to DTC or DMRC.
- There is yet another cost that comes into the picture, That is the Opportunity cost of the funds that are being exhausted for the free provision of a service. had these funds be used in some other constructive purpose, or for a social welfare objective, their utility might have been higher than what it is now.
- Although the intention behind the free provision of services may be a benevolent one, yet in spite of being a step in the right direction, it is not enough to bring in gender parity. Undoubtedly the free transport service will enable women or any other class of people to commute frequently and explore the world outside their confinements, yet it wouldn't create a lasting impact on the growth of the economy unless women have someplace to travel to, this means proving jobs and some alternate sources of livelihood by infrastructure up-gradation is of equal importance.
- Provision of skills, adequate education, knowledge, and employment opportunities so that people can earn a livelihood, and use the income to be spent on various amenities, would be a better course of action instead of providing services free of cost.
- The scope of opportunities given to marginalized discriminated and vulnerable groups should be expanded effectively in the long run. Free amenities can be a short term relief but not a long term inequality solution.