Tag Archives: dignity of labour





    On his first day in office as President when Abraham Lincoln entered to give his inaugural address. One rich and aristocratic appearing person stood up and said, ‘Mr. Lincoln, you should not forget that your father used to make shoes for my family.’ And with that the whole Senate laughed. They thought they had made a fool of Lincoln.

    But certain people are made of a totally different mettle. Lincoln was one of them. He looked at the man directly in the eye and said,

    ‘Sir, I know that my father used to make shoes for your family, and there will be many others here, who too, wear shoes made by him. Because, he made them the way nobody else could, as he was a creator. His shoes were not just shoes. He poured his whole soul into them. I want to ask you, if you have any complaint about his workmanship? Because, I know, how to make shoes myself. If you have any complaint I can make you another pair of shoes. But as far as I know, nobody has ever complained about my father’s shoes. He was a genius and a great creator and I am proud of my father.’

    The whole Senate was dumb struck. They could not understand what kind of man Abraham Lincoln was. He was proud because his father did his job so well. That not even a single complaint had ever been heard of.

    Moral of the story: If you are excellent at your work no matter what work you do happiness will always be yours.


By Kamlesh Tripathi


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By Kamlesh Tripathi

Meru lady cab driver Jyoti Gupta
Meru lady cab driver Jyoti Gupta


It was a novel experience when my wife and I were driven home the other day from Delhi Airport by Ms Jyoti Gupta, a lady cab driver, of the pink fleet of radio cabs, christened ‘Meru Eve,’ recently introduced by Meru Cabs.

To begin with Jyoti briefly narrated how the chief executive of Meru Cabs, Siddhartha Pahwa, announced the new service from a dais decorated with daisies and gladioli at the time of launch. The holistic concept being, how to make women safer in Delhi; where the newfound breed, of these daring and young female cabbies were adding value.

Meru lady cab driver
Meru lady cab driver

We had some luggage that needed to be transferred to the luggage carrier atop and tied. I offered to help but she refused priding she could do that just alone, and she did it. And while she was doing that we could see some male cabbies prying and smiling at her.

And as we started from the airport, I could see both male and female eyes gazing at her, for she was a novelty- a cab driver, who had dared to break into the hitherto male bastion of cabbies.

In the small conversation that followed she told us why she took up to this career. Surely, it was not for any pantomime. But the intense and rancid pattern of daily abuse from her husband. She now had two college going children, and was up in arms with her husband, seeking divorce; and had merited class ten herself, from Haldwani.

Quick to learn and savvy about business numbers. Knowing her vehicle inside-out. Not scared of the male rowdiness or the male overwhelm on the road. And while driving, she appeared quite a seasoned and inveterate, as I was not missing the male counterpart for a change.

And, there was something captivating about her. For she was not sulking to the challenges of a tough profession, but was gaga about it. As, by now she had already demonstrated the definition of toughness. That was moving away from stark physicality to an enduring mindset which females too had. And, last but not the least she conveyed the ultimate mission of life, that was common for both man and woman, and it was only the short lived difficulties that are different.

All the best Jyoti!

Article: #SwachhBharatAbhiyan (SBA) – Include existing Public Toilets in SBA



Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done well by wielding the broom to clean a road and its surroundings, thereby, burnishing the lost grandeur of ‘dignity of labour.’ He has also formed a formidable team of star citizens, who have given impetus to the campaign launched in around 4041 statutory towns. Where in you find cine stars, sports persons, social activists, industrialists, professionals and even politicians, psyched out. Icons like Amitabh Bachchan, Anil Ambani, Kamal Hassan, Sachin Tendulkar, Shashi Tharoor and many other distinguished personalities have graced the campaign, by lending both, social and glamour weight.

So with all of this, the speed and velocity of the campaign looks set to deliver the goods. However, the priorities within this need to be tweaked, mainly to prioritize the initial tranches. Where, I have some pointed and granular suggestions to make, that oozes right out of my firsthand experience. Create as many Public toilets as possible, in the shortest possible time and also include the existing ones in the campaign. Perhaps, this suggestion of mine may give the whole campaign a better fillip in converting the movement into a mass movement with the least of resistance. Arising, more out of the immediate necessity of the deprived public, in this case the general public; because of the limited, shabby and poor infrastructure that throws the spanner in the development of India.

For it was just, yesterday when I was driving down the crowded market area on Hill Road in Bandra, is when I felt like relieving myself. I stopped the car, got off and started looking for a public urinal. Keeping strictly in mind the Prime Minister’s message of Swacch Bharat Abhiyan, and trying to observe it to my heart’s content.


I must have spent about half-an-hour in the crowded market area, in which time I must have covered more than a kilometer but I still could not find a public toilet. Is when I saw the logo of a petrol pump to my heart’s delight, as we all know have toilets. ‘Wow- what a relief’ I said to myself. And this got me thinking.

If this is the condition of Mumbai, one of the biggest metropolis of India what about other cities? With a burgeoning population, Mumbai has a deficit of at least 47,000 toilet seats, and the cost of constructing one toilet is INR 150,000, say authorities, so we can imagine the cost involved. This shortage in 2001 was a whooping 125,000 toilet seats when the Brihan Mumbai Muncipal Corporation (BMC) had conducted its first survey on the sanitation needs for the country’s commercial population. Going by 2001 figures, the ratio of toilets versus population comes to a whopping 1: 50 or 3,000 people using it daily in Mumbai.


After relieving myself, I sincerely blessed the oil companies that thought of customer convenience, by having toilets in all their retail outlets which Indian Railways couldn’t provide in all platforms. Further, I thought this is a big opportunity to include these readily available toilets, as part of the Swacch Bharat Abhiyaan as pay and use toilets to catapult the campaign exponentially.

Today, India has about 45,000 filling stations more than Canada or UK as of March 2012, and most are with the facility of a toilet. If these toilets are made to join the SBA on a pay and use basis we can have a sudden flurry of toilets and that will certainly help the SBA.

For the Government to make public toilets, every 1-2 km, in crowded market areas along the road side may be a gigantic and close to a non doable task, so here is the way forward. Today, the immediate pressing need for the Public at large is a convenient network of clean toilets spaced around close proximity and concomitant is the wielding of broom to keep it clean. While it may be possible to construct new toilets on highways and open roads but may be extremely difficult in the already cramped and crowded market areas and this is where these toilets can come in handy


Even though Government of India has transcribed incentives for building public toilets. All is not achieved merely by announcing incentives on paper alone, as it requires mindsets to change–that running a public toilet too, is a respectable venture; something like Sulabh Shauchalaya.

And so, India needs a renewed and intense campaign to promote public toilets as a doable business by respectable Individuals, Unemployed Youth, Business Houses, Societies, Builders, NGOs, SMEs, Hospitality Industry and under Corporate Social Responsibility.

Government should promote people having genuine intent of doing this noble task, and who have spare Land on which Private – Public Toilets could be constructed, or even existing toilets that could be utilized at prime and vantage locations as pay and use toilets.

The building bylaws should be tweaked to incentivise for mass proliferation of such public toilets and also sops in the form of rebate in property tax or any other, are a few boons that should be considered by the Government, if possible.

Running public toilets could be ticked at par with running hospitals as both reduce human suffering. Modi Government could further do well in bringing about this social change. Prime Minister Narendra Modi in fact has orated in one of his speeches abroad that he is currently busy in construction of Public toilets.