Quick! What do you think is wrong with this pic?

The tenth edition of the cricket World Cup opened ten days ago in Dhaka, with the usual glitzy song-dance-laser junk that passes of as “local culture”. Captain after captain of the competing teams arrived in cycle-rickshaws for the benefit of the cameras, taking the “spectacle” around the world.

The logic of the hosts and the organisers of the tournament, the International Cricket Council (ICC),  obviously was to showcase a slice of Bangladesh that is a familiar cliche around the world. And doubtless millions of viewers made some “connect” with the sight on their TV screens and in their newspapers.

All except, it seems, K. Javeed Nayeem.

The Mysore-based physician, who writes a weekly column in Star of Mysore, wrote on February 18:

“When I saw a picture of Mahendra Singh Dhoni sitting with a young usher and riding a ‘man-powered’ rickshaw at the inaugural ceremony, I wondered what response it would draw from the world community that has been pressing over the years for the abolition of this form of demeaning transport, which is almost the trademark of life in Bangladesh and which still persists in many parts of our country too.”

World Community? Response?

Well, do a search on a search engine of your choice and you will notice, ten days later, that there has been little or no outcry over the cycle-rickshaws as a prop. Proof that the world has better things to do than worry about some poor cycle-rickshaw wallah earning a few bucks? Proof that cycle-rickshaws are, maybe, OK?

Or proof that there is a limit to such a thing as political correctness in the supposedly wired, connected, globalised world?

Also read: CHURUMURI POLL: Does the World Cup excite you?

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30 Responses to “Quick! What do you think is wrong with this pic?”

  1. Mahesh Vijapurkar Says:

    Most Indians wouldn’t give a damn if they had to ride the human-powered tri-rickshaws but fortunately, they are banned in most cities. Since when do we respect human dignity?

  2. Vinay Says:

    So the question is, are cycle rickshaws ‘inhuman’? Or should we just let them be, since they’re just earning their living with the only means possible to them (physical labour)?

  3. Khalil Sawant Says:

    They still do operate in some cities, including Delhi.
    Also, it is very different from a rick-shaw-walker-er like the one shown in “Do Bigha Zameen”, which is obviously in-human

  4. mysore peshva Says:

    frankly, i don’t see what is demeaning in operating, or hiring, a cycle rickshaw.

    i can see a patronizing elitism in the claim that some professions, being “white collar,” are somehow more dignified than other professions that are “blue collar.” such an attitude is decidedly unGandhian and an affront to the dignity of labor.

    what IS demeaning is how some people treat the rickshaw-wallah… how some misbehave with him as if he were somehow a lesser mortal. that sort of attitude/behavior is what i reject, not the profession of driving a cycle rickshaw, which is no less noble than a profession of, say, driving an auto rickshaw or a bus.

  5. Vinay Says:

    I am rather undecided on this rickshaw business. I feel very uncomfortable sitting in a cycle rickshaw, let alone a hand-rickshaw. But then, we don’t seem to have an issue with rowboats, coolies in stations, etc.

    Fact is, there are lots of people in India (hundreds of millions) who have no education and no skills, and who depend on manual labour to survive. Why pick on the rickshaw alone?

  6. vikram Says:

    ǝןƃuɐ ʇuǝɹǝɟɟıp ɐ ɯoɹɟ pןɹoʍ ǝɥʇ ʇɐ ʞooן ɐ ǝʞɐʇ

  7. Gaby Says:

    Yes it’s decidedly uncomfortable- but it is ergonomical and eco-friendly. Two very good things I suppose. It’s only deemaning when you see it from the Do Bigha Zameen point of view!

  8. Gouri Satya Says:

    Instead of leaving them and their family hungry, why not allow them sustain themselves in a job which helps them and their family. Who are we to interfere in their freedom of work and live?

  9. Aloknath Says:

    This lack of dignity for a profession is the bane of our great Indian culture. I am reminded of a quote from Atlas Shrugged
    “There is no lousy job. There are only lousy people who don’t do their job.”

  10. 'mudi'malnad Says:

    Just for FYI, even in some US[developed nations] cities you have human poweredrickshaws[San Diego]. This would have been big issue if the inagural was held in India[these intellectuals would have made big front page story]
    As long that rickshaw don’t carry his highness SRI S N Ode…. Its ok!

  11. twistleton Says:

    All because of the misconception that mental labour should be rewarded much, much more than physical labour.

    Incomes are the default of the sector one works in. That is why a cycle-rikshaw wallah earns next to nothing. Abolishing his trade is no solution. Making it a viable means of generating income is. It is not enough to merely “respect the dignity of his labour”.

  12. vindy Says:

    agree with Vinay, I dont sit on one …enough of nit picking on everyhting

  13. Deepak Says:

    These politically correct pieces are irritating. Surely the author doesn’t think that he is wiser than the Bangla Govt and the ICC. Wouldn’t the organisers have given a thought to this before including in the inaugural ceremony? These rickshaws are not just a fact, but an essential part of daily life in those regions and so naturally it is a part of their culuture and they have included it!!

  14. DailyBread Says:

    Saddi Dilli & National Capital Region put together have more than 50,000 cycle rickshaws. If you don’t like them, bring in a Twistletonist solution, i.e. legislate them away.

    Knock on the the doors of NAC, from this great country they have already banished through legislation hunger, poverty, unemployment & illiteracy. Time for Right to AutoRickshaw (RTA)bill…….


    Vindy & Vinay,

    >I dont sit on one

    Kindly reconsider, poor rickshaw puller will be happy to have some additional business :))

  15. Bengalooru Haida Says:

    @MP, Vinay:

    Agree with you totally. Nicely put. It’s just another profession and if one is doing it without coercion so be it. Yes, treat our man like a fellow man.

    But the scene gets murkier if we look at it via ‘exploitation’ lenses. Then we would cringe. Most of the popular culture (including Do Bigha Zameen) plays on that angle – TB ridden frail unwashed man with sunken eyes and reedy chest huffing up a steep slope while the sahib and his obese wife trill in the background with a tinge of impatience why the beast can’t move faster.

    Thus I also understand why some people like Javed saab feel the way they do.

  16. twistleton Says:


    I know you are a socialist at heart. :D

    You know income disparities are lesser in the blessed land of milk and honey and capitalism, but if someone speaks of it in sadda country, people richochet off walls in their eagerness to immediately catch and revile a suspected jholawala. Why these double standards?

  17. K.Balasubrahmanyan Says:

    we should thank the organisers that they did not use rickshaw pulled by a man.Perhaps if the gamehad opened at calcutta they would have done it! Bala

  18. Rama Says:

    Cycling is good for their health!

  19. Indian Homemaker Says:

    I am undecided. I feel cycle rickshaw walas are no different from construction workers, porters etc. I would rather they were paid well and were treated with respect.

  20. DailyBread Says:


    >suspected jholawala

    Jholawala’s liking for jhola is not just sartorial, its a state of mind & a particular worldview. Please change your wardrobe, be a complete man………

    I thought on cycle rickshaws we will be on the same side. I assumed that a green warrior like you would prefer this mode of transport service which in Delhi is provided by guest workers from neighboring country. Yes, the same neighboring country which showcased this as local culture and surreptitiously exports this culture to our country…….

  21. Sapna Says:

    It was an interesting post. The comments bring out some very interesting points too…

  22. RJ Says:

    Cycle rickshaws are common in some European cities too, near major tourist attractions. For example, you can find them in the Englisher Garten in Munich, on some squares in Rome, etc.

  23. twistleton Says:


    Of course we are on the same side. Did you read my post? :) I was merely touched by your passing reference to me.

    I have no problem with cycle-rikshaw wallas. In fact I am very much for the idea. I am against the fact that a rikshaw-wallah gets only a measly amount for his services. Why? He works as much or as little as the rest of us. If he starts charging more, everyone will exclaim in horror.

    Just think of the paradox of our times. People who do physical work need to eat more, but they get paid less. Whereas people with desk jobs need to eat less, but they get paid more. How is a rikshaw-walla supposed to feed himself and his family on the measley amount he makes?

  24. DailyBread Says:


    >I am against the fact that a rikshaw-wallah gets only a measly amount for his services.

    You jholawalas are against everything, be happy that he gets a market discovered wage which is far better than minimum wage NAREGA pays for few days in a year.

    >Just think of the paradox of our times.

    Thank you, that task is assigned to you. Do you know one of the biggest paradoxes of our times, the price difference between jholas from Khadi bhandaar and Fab India. Life is like that, please don’t think too much….

    >People who do physical work need to eat more, but they get paid less. Whereas people with desk jobs need to eat less, but they get paid more.

    Suggested reading : Chapter “Of the wages of labour”, from the book “An inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations”

  25. buddu Says:

    It’s good they used what is commonplace in their country than import a dozen or whatever number of stretch-limos..There is no shame in being natural and what is easily identified with.

  26. twistleton Says:

    Ah Daily

    You WOULD quote Adam Smith. Then i can quote Karl Marx can’t I? The debate is endless. But I do have one question for you.

    In India the “market” is warped by class and caste. Does the answer to this lie with the market as well?

    You can do whatever you want with the resources at your disposal AS LONG AS YOU HAVE PUBLIC CONSENSUS. If you force anything on anybody, be it ruthless State ownership or the avarice of a merciless Market, you are doing WRONG.

  27. twistleton Says:

    For general perusal: http://www.hindu.com/2011/03/03/stories/2011030364131300.htm

  28. Not A Witty Nick Says:

    Why not rehabilitate all of them in Murthy AngaDi? It’ll be a very eco-friendly means of transport for the tourists. Jerry Rao can build them an affordable housing complex in the campus!

  29. Govinda Nelyaru Says:

    These tricycles can be fitted with pedal assist units. The government scientists put together a junk and screamed EUREKA. http://www.efytimes.com/e1/43006/fullnews.htm
    Being handicapped, I imported a tricycle and assist unit and government was liberal with customs. They charged INR 68000 as customs duty. The government scientists do not provide for our needs & customs do their best to throttle us. Indian Customs department thinks one tricycle meant for handicapped person should be charged as much as SIX NANO cars.


  30. lalit mohan Says:

    mahander singh doni very cool captainbut veryi intelejent captain.and vweyhandsome captain

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