The Web


 Latest News on mobile: sms NEWS to 7333

Home > News > Report

Kolkata's 'human horses' on last legs

M Chhaya in Kolkata | August 16, 2005 10:18 IST

One of Kolkata's enduring symbols, its thousands of hand-pulled rickshaws meandering their way through the city's alleys and lanes, is all set to become history.

On Monday, West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharya announced that such "inhuman mode of transportation" wouldn't be allowed to ply anywhere.

"It's totally inhuman and we have made a policy decision to ban it.

"These rickshaws will be phased out over the next 4-5 months," Bhattacharya said.

An import from China in the early 20th century, the hand-pulled rickshaw, commonly known as the 'human horse', has been reviled and respected in such internationally acclaimed films as Roland Joffe's 'The City of Joy'.

During monsoons, these barefooted pullers are the only effective mode of transport through flooded roads or sun-beaten streets.

For the western world, these rickshaws have been as much part of Kolkata as the city's poverty, squalor, slums and Mother Teresa's charity work.

"Some westerners think beggars and rickshaws are a Kolkata tradition, but this not the tradition of our city,' Bhattacharya said.

These rickshaws came off China's roads after the 1949 Communist Revolution. It has taken India's leftist bastion another 50 years to see the inhumanity of the profession.

"It's been late, but we will not allow this to continue anymore," the chief minister said.

Of course, alongside concern for human dignity, a very realistic worry about image has pushed the government to act.

Rickshaw pullers' unions say they will wait and watch, hoping the government will come good on its promise to provide alternative sources of livelihood for them.

7333: The Latest News on Your Mobile!

Share your comments

 What do you think about the story?

Read what others have to say:

Number of User Comments: 14

Sub: Rickshaws

The Left Front Govt of West Bengal wants to get rid of the Image – of man’s inhumanity to man – rather than the reality ...

Posted by V Ramaswamy

Sub: Rickshaws in Calcutta

The Left Front Govt of West Bengal wants to get rid of the Image – of man’s inhumanity to man – rather than the reality ...

Posted by V Ramaswamy

Sub: human horses in Toronto

We recently visited Toronto and found many human horses around the downtown Toronto. We thought we go around some places with this but found very ...

Posted by Prasanna

Sub: Alternatives

Anyone who has read City of Joy would know, under what circumstances people take up this job and how this profession earns the livelihood for ...

Posted by Senthil

Sub: Human horses off the roads in Kolkata

Thanks CM - It is was really very shameful to see the humans pulling the rickshaws. You have given

Posted by Feroz


Article Tools
Email this article
Top emailed links
Print this article
Write us a letter
Discuss this article

Copyright © 2005 India Limited. All Rights Reserved.