THERE are lessons to be learnt from the wily rickshaw drivers who have been pressing for increase in fares from time to time. After the crackdown on cheating with tampered meters put a curb on ill-gotten income, they had no go but to demand for a fare hike to meet the shortfall. And after threatening citizens with a two-day strike, they sneaked in a one rupee increase in the minimum fare with subsequent extra charges per km. They then crookedly contrived a rate card in which travel costs ended up with 50 paise, knowing fully well that you will not be bothered about being ripped-off for another 50 paise in the rounding-off-to-a-rupee exercise. Now the rates are set to go up again by a few rupees and those who swear that enough is enough and tell us that these guys need to be taught a lesson through wholesale boycott will still head for that auto stand. The reason is that the two rupee increase in fares doesn’t seem as obnoxious as the eight rupee increase in petrol prices. A lesson the government has yet to learn if it wishes to stave off agitations and bandhs like the one being planned for Thursday, May 31.
Given our dependence and helplessness, there is every chance the year-end could see a minimum fare of Rs.20 being coughed up by grumbling Mumbaikars.