Saturday, 17 August 2013


In Chandigarh where number of residents are exceeded by motor vehicles and pollution on the rise. Chandigarh Ecocabs is a ray of hope for the citizens and to the environment. Ecocabs an initiative by a group of young social change makers assures a mode of transport which is not a burden to the environment and provides an end to end connectivity in the city. In this Interview we talked about their motivation, views on today's youth and the future plans of Ecocabs.
Here are some excerpts....

  • What was your motivation behind Chandigarh Ecocabs.? When did this idea struck you guys to introduce Radio Rickshaws in Chandigarh ?

We are successfully running Ecocabs-Dial-a-rickshaw concept at Fazilka since June 2008. In the year April 2010 honorable Punjab and Haryana High Court on its own, took an action on the news item which appeared in Indian Express on Fazilka Ecocabs, and found it one of the most sustainable and eco friendly initiative and shall be replicated in cities of Punjab, Haryana and UT Chandigarh.  Immediately after Chandigarh Municipal Corporation invited Navdeep Asija, founder of Ecocabs for the discussions.
 Nothing was materialized. After series of meeting nothing was happening due to over regulated regime of Chandigarh Administration. In the month May 2013, We along with group of young social entrepreneurs or we can say social change makers, came together and thought of introducing “Chandigarh Ecocabs, a community based driven cycle rickshaws. Gautam and Ashok Felix stared working on the web interface.

Navdeep Asija 

In the  Meantime, we presented the case to Commissioner Municipal Corporation, Chandigarh Mr V.P. Singh and he agreed for their side of administrative support.  During this time, many developments happened, like we met Mr K.K. Sharma, Adviser to Administrator UT and Mr V.K. Singh, Financial Commissioner UT at one of the conference on Sustainable Mobility of Chandigarh organised by Centre of Science and Technology. They also liked the concept. Team approached Hi Bird cycle manufacturer, in order to support our mission they also agree to give us free cycle rickshaw for the launch. So, overall everything was happening in the favour of project and finally on 25th June 2013, formally we launched this service in Chandigarh.

The main motive behind this project was to develop a sustainable mode of transportation to improve last mile connectivity in urban areas by strengthening existing non motor mode of transpiration in mind.

  • Everybody in your team has an excellent educational background; rather than working for a reputed multinational corporation and earning a six digit salary, what initiated you guys to start such a kind of social venture which could bring a change in the society?
Only answer to this question is “Be the change, we wish to see” but in our case, we are the change we wish to see. The one agenda that brought us together is “life of significance”. Our beautiful nation has giving us the opportunity to earn six digit salaries, provided us the equal opportunity to attain best of the education then it is very important for us to contribute more and more towards nation building.

  Our team decided to work for the people those who are at the bottom of the pyramid, the largest, but poorest socio-economic group mainly farmers and labour class. Unfortunately they are the most deprived section of our society, where none of the welfare measures are reaching. Our initiative is more like a bridging the Gap and enable the weaker section of our society with equal economic and social opportunity; we are very sure, this would bring positive change in our society.

  • Taking a look at the increasing crime rates against women (including the infamous Delhi gang rape case) there is a new stereotype view that their own private vehicles are safer for women than going for public transport. On behalf of Chandigarh Ecocabs what do you have to say to those people.? Are rickshaws safe for women?

Rickshaw is the safest para transit mode of public transportation. Reason is very simple, it’s open and it’s slow. Recent report by Justice Verma on criminal law also suggests promoting non motor mode of transportation directing towards facilitation of vendors, hawkers and cycle rickshaw. They improve overall safety and security in the city. Rickshaw people are very helpful to the police in terms of providing information related to crime.  Major user of the rickshaw is either women or elders. Both are the vulnerable segment of our present society and in many surveys and report, the same things is reconfirmed. The main reason for linking rickshaw with phone call was only to improve accessibility of their preferred mode of transportation, which eventually will improve their safe mobility.

  •            Usually youngsters have an outlook that in such a type of social venture profits are quite less, and needs a lot of funds. They say, the operation is successful, but the patient is dead. Which means that you put in all your efforts and the venture is a success but we don’t earn profits?  Is the above statement true in your case?
It all depends how you count your profit, profit in terms of monetarily gain?? In that way we can say, we will be able to recover our own initial investment and recurring costs.  In order to institutionalize the project, we have developed this hybrid organisation. World over organisations are working either ‘for profit’ or ‘non profit”. Our is combination of both, we are making nominal profit in order to recover the operational management cost. Our is a group of three types of social entrepreneurs, few have time, few have money and few of them have ideas. It is more like donate your skills and not money all the time. Project started from Fazilka, Punjab in the year 2008 and now operational in all major cities and towns of Punjab, now in Chandigarh. So, with our approach, we can say, operation is successful and patient is discharged to enjoy his rest of the quality life with full dignity and love.       

  • Do you think our education system has failed both in moral and skill based education?
We are the youngest nation with maximum youth population. So, far this youth power is being used during elections but not is nation building. No clear cut directions are given to youth, say after independence. Our present system lacks role models which can motivate and give direction to the youth. Youth is following what they see is good. So far the “real good” definition is somehow missing for the larger masses. Yes, up to some extent we can blame our present text book based and degree system of Education. The value and skill based education system is being attacked by British, like our traditional Gurukul, and result is in front of us. I appreciated, you raised this question, it is high time to realise this mistake and start working towards the corrective measures. “Money and fame earned without values carry no significance”. It is the need of hour and we need more and more role models, and leaders, who can further create more social leaders who can guide and give direction to the present youth.