It seems the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has announced free public transportation for the women in the capital. The only reasonable explanation I could perhaps have given to this scheme was that we have miraculously gone back in time to the Victorian era. But since I know that’s not possible, I fail to understand why the Delhi government seems to think that we women are a bunch of damsels in distress needing someone to pay for our transportation.
So essentially, AAP has performed miserably in the recent Lok Sabha elections, winning just about 1 seat in the entire country and faring third in most Delhi constituencies, their apparent stronghold. To add to this misery, the party heard rumours that assembly elections may be preponed by four months and might be held in October. Completely perturbed at the thought of their inevitable irrelevance, it was felt by the party that they needed to distribute freebies, and fast. For this they have apparently decided to pick the segment of the voters they believe to be the most naive and gullible- the women.
In furtherance to this, the party is aiming to deceive the women by offering free transportation in the Delhi metros and DTC buses, claiming to be quite generous for planning to spend 700 crores of tax payer’s money for the same. Now, this is meant to be a double edged sword. Not only is the party vying to get the votes of an apparently “easily swayable” segment of voters, but is using this to put up a facade of dealing with the women safety problem in the capital.
One of the major issues the capital faces is the lack of women safety. The region is known as the rape capital of India and has had many CM’s in the past, including Sheila Dikshit who have been unable to pro-actively deal with the situation. It is actually quite astounding how AAP is conniving to convince the women that the free tickets are going to do wonders for their welfare and security in the capital.
Being a prudent woman, I can see right through Arvind Kejriwal’s fake tactics. While announcing the move, Arvind Kejrwal very graciously claimed, “Right now our concern is the safety of women.” First of all, what I would really want to understand is how giving free tickets would effectively tackle the issue of women safety prevailing in the capital. Is sexual harassment and molestation committed against the women because they are paying for the tickets? Surely Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t mean to imply that the brutal Delhi gang rape that occurred in 2012 on a public bus was due to the fact that the victim had paid for her ticket; and, if, that is so, can Kejriwal guarantee that women would be safe, now that they’re travelling free of cost?
While announcing the move, Kejriwal had also added, that the proposal to make Delhi Metro and DTC rides free was “to encourage the women to use public transport”. The Delhi CM has made quite a bold assumption here. He is essentially stating that women do not travel in the public transport due to economic constraints. As a woman, I can completely negate this blatant assumption. Delhi metro and DTC buses are the cheapest form of transport in the city. The alternative, cabs, auto rickshaws or even personal vehicles turn out to be substantially more expensive. Therefore, the only reason why a woman may choose to travel in a cab or a personal vehicle is due to safety constraints, constraints that do not cease to exist if the woman stops paying for her ticket.
This scheme literally reminds me of the Victorian era when the women were given benefits due to their delicate nature, as opposed to the men who were considered to be strong and self sufficient. The concept of equality didn’t exist back then and it seems as though AAP has completely overlooked it now. Not only is the state government reinforcing patriarchy by questioning a woman’s ability to be financially independent, but is also being unfair to the men. Such a scheme, which differentiates between the men and the women, and seeks to grant economic benefits to the women, implies that they are the weaker sex who are unable to support themselves financially, to the extent of not even being able to buy a bus ticket. Women want equality and the freedom to be self sufficient without the constant worry of unwanted advances which hasn’t been ensured by the state government. Instead of focusing on economic independence and safety, the state government has attempted to give them tidbits; essentially creating a false facade of being concerned for the women. By practising cheap tactics aimed at securing votes, AAP is playing on the women’s psyche and self esteem, inculcating a habit of making them dependent when the need of the hour is to break free of that mentality.