Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) proposal to make DTC bus and metro rides free for women has become a talking point on social media. Within hours of the Delhi government announcement, women from across professions took to Twitter to laud the decision.
Over the past years, Delhi has not been able to shake off the epithet of ‘rape capital’ that it has earned in the face of the sordid record of gender crimes in the city. Its reputation has reached a nadir, leading many women to seriously think twice about moving to the city, even when faced with an opportunity. The sorry state of women safety in the capital had triggered the nation’s anger particularly in the aftermath of the horrific Nirbhaya gang rape case. The incident took place in a moving private bus on December 16, 2012.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data, Delhi reported the highest crime rate at 184.3 compared to 56.3 at all India level, followed by Assam, Telangana, Odisha, Rajasthan, Haryana and West Bengal in 2015.
Karuna Nundy, an advocate with the Supreme Court said the initiative will encourage women to travel to work.
A woman entrepreneur seconded her.
Welcoming the move, renowned women’s rights activist Kavita Krishnan went on to demand a public transport cess on the top income brackets.
However, there are many who believe that a lot more needs to be done to improve the situation of women safety in the society here. Some have even gone to the extent of writing off the proposed scheme claiming the tone of the decision reflects that women are not equally qualified as men.
Activist Japleen Pasricha suggested other measures to be taken by the government to ensure women’s safety.
A mother-daughter duo who use the metro frequently say they would prefer paying for their tickets since they can afford it.
On the other hand, a number of Delhi men seemed furious and sought explanation on “why financially equipped women are eligible for such subsidies in the name of women safety.” They lashed out on Twitter with memes and jokes.
With the chief minister making the declaration less than a year ahead of Delhi Assembly elections, the move in sync with the party’s promise to ensure women safety, is being suspected as merely a gimmick to gain the women votebank by many. Even political cartoons taking a dig at Kejriwal’s announcement for free rides have been doing the rounds.
Meanwhile, male celebrities like Pritish Nandy stood in support of the government’s decision and wrote to Kejriwal.
Political commentator Dhruv Rathee went on to cite the example of a similar scheme in France to make public transport free to encourage the state government move.
In the aftermath of the declaration, it has been reported that the state government can’t afford the subsidies on metro fares.
Amid all the counter views on this policy said to strengthen women’s cause, Jasmine Shah, the vice chairperson of Delhi government’s Dialogue and Development Commission regarded the debate itself as progressive.