Third-World to First-World--Anybody Listening?
Fuel Prices Boost Cause of S. Asia's Maligned Rickshaw
By Emily Wax Washington Post Foreign Service Saturday, June 28, 2008; A01
NEW DELHI -- The bicycle rickshaws that weave through New Delhi's narrow lanes have long been scorned by authorities here for congesting the city's already fierce traffic. The creaking carriages crawl alongside luxury sedans, book hawkers, horse-drawn carts, hulking buses and cows.
In this city and the other quickly modernizing capitals of South Asia, governments have called the rickshaws backward, embarrassing symbols of the Third World.
Now, however, in a time of $7-a-gallon fuel in New Delhi and growing concerns about pollution, environmental activists and transportation experts are pushing back against rickshaw critics. And rickshaw cyclists are seizing the moment to tout the virtues of their trade.
"My rickshaw is my life. It's very cheap for my passengers," said Saurabh Ganguly, a 27-year-old rickshaw cyclist whose shirt was sticky with dirt and grime.