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Woman seat reservations in public transport: Did we fail to understand?

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Photo by Manki Kim on Unsplash

Few weeks ago, as most of the population of Kathmandu does, I also was travelling using a public vehicle. My destination being Kalanki, I got on the bus on Balkot-kalanki route. As I struggled my way into the bus, I saw an unusual reservation provided on the bus. The bus has provision for “mother-of-an-infant” seat reservation for two. According to the law, public transport should have at least two seat reservations for women, one for elderly, and four seats for differently-abled. I looked around in surprise as the “mother-of-an-infant” reservation was a very new concept to me. I managed my way deep into the crowded bus alley and was still trying to make something out of that reservation. As usual, the bus was brim packed and few young ladies were having a hard time standing.

A survey conducted in 2013 by the World Bank group with Australian aid pointed out that 33% of woman felt personal insecurities in public transport. The survey also noted 26% of the entire survey of women aged 19-35 years had had direct experience of inappropriate touching on public transport in the year 2012. The number itself is disappointing but the condition has not improved. The condition has worsened since the survey has been conducted. Those aren’t the only concern to women on public vehicle. Biologically, most women are fragile and more susceptible to fatigue and fainting. Also, statistically more female are found to be suffering from arthritis. Also, all women need to experience menstruation once a month and that also comes with different short term problems. Not forgetting, pregnancy also puts woman in a position where she can’t manage to stand in such crowded vehicles.

Considering all these factors as an inevitable problem, mostly exclusive to women, female seat reservation seemed to be justified. But is that all that concerns to a society? If woman seat reservation was really effective solving the problem why did the “Kalanki-Balkot” route felt the necessity to explicitly define seat for “mother-of-an-infant”? That should have come under the woman seat reservation and should have managed the problem. Did we fail to understand the reservation?

The need for female seat reservation in public vehicle clearly shows the problem is not just about how difficult public transportation is but how undisciplined and immoral our society is. Female seat was allocated for women in need. But somehow those who need it are still struggling as they cannot voice their need and we don’t have the morality to acknowledge something that directly won’t affect us. Not only that, but the seat reservation has brought about general air of mistrust between the genders. As long as there is provision for female seat reservation on a fully packed bus, no “male” on the bus feel obliged to give up their seat for a female in actually need.

The segregation of seat was supposed to be like, female seat reserved and rest of the seats are general where any gender will have equal rights. But the misunderstood reservation has made it so that as long as the female seat is empty, any woman to climb the bus should occupy only that seat just so another  seat remains empty for a “male”. That wasn’t the original purpose of the seat, I reckon. I have barely seen a person having a second thought before taking up the elderly reserved, or differently-abled reserved. The reservation meant the same to all categories but the fact that female reservation is taken as an act of gender inclusion more than the solution to the problem of woman difficulties in travel goes out and shows the ignorance prevailing in the society.

When a person gets on a bus and sees two females seating on the woman reserved seat, we assume that our responsibility towards any other female to climb the bus has ended. If a public vehicle has just two seats where woman can have comfortable journey without the fear of being harassed and misbehaved, we failed as a society. The reservation is provided to give woman in need an easier travel but the real solution for all woman would be; a society where all the people in the vehicle recognize the need of another and is willing to help irrespective of their gender.

Next time when you see a woman with an infant standing in the bus, don’t wait for the girl in woman seat to stand. Have an experience to share with us? Tell us in the comment.

We are all just an arbitrary constant looking for a value that fits the equation of our life. Guess I will find one someday.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Sunil adhikari

    October 6, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    I like ur views.i think kalanki to ratnapark is the most busiest route than other.but due to resistance from local at tripershwor the small road being the source of traffic jam.the heavy flow of passenger n huge number of small tempo is another cause of traffic jam n government need to bring alternative suppliment

    • Sandesh Sharma

      October 12, 2019 at 8:27 pm

      Thank you. Traffic definitely is one of the major factor leading to a compromised comfort to all the passenger.

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Food For Thought

Opinion Vs Fact: Things to understand while communicating

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Once, I was in a camp designed to train youths on liberty, freedom, free-market, and governance. Four foreign nationals were conducting the class.  There were interactions, discussions and Q&A sessions.  There were many instances where the foreigners would ask questions about Nepal, and students would answer them, and sometimes answers used to be totally exaggerated one or sometimes completely untrue, but then those foreigners would believe them anyway as if is true.  Stepping onto the shoes of those foreigners, I surely would have found Nepal a horrible place to live in based on the answers and views shared by Nepalese in the class.

I still remember the Human Rights report during the Madhesh andolan and how that irked many people then. I remember an article written in response to the report stating “many times, western media and organisations cover Nepal and build their views plainly based on correspondents living in New Delhi or only by interviewing opinion leaders from Kathmandu.”  I also remember one of the videos by Al Jazeera and how that actually shaped views of others regarding Madhesh Andolan.

What can we learn from these incidences and observations is that we often end up spreading false messages or half truth, about our country and people, especially in crisis-hit time.  I suppose it’s same everywhere in developing society.  So, how do we end up spreading false messages? It’s in our lack of communication skills.  There is something else.

When we are telling something to somebody about our country or government or an incident, we are either expressing
1. Our opinion, OR.
2. Telling the fact.

Opinion is what you feel, what you think. Fact is something that has been proven, is backed by evidence, or a conclusion from an extensive research.  People generally don’t take opinion that seriously but take facts quite seriously.  What happens when you express your opinion in a tone of fact-telling? People will take that seriously as if is a truth.

Let’s put it in example.
“Nepal is a very highly corrupted country. Everyone is corrupted here. You can buy anyone for money.” This statement sounds like a fact.

” I think, Nepal is a very highly corrupted country. To me, everyone seems corrupted here.  I even think you can buy anyone for money.  That’s just my opinion though.” This statement sounds pretty much an opinion.

Could you see the difference?? That “I think” makes a whole difference.

So, how an opinion should be expressed and not make it sound like fact telling? It’s very simple. You begin or end a sentence with “in my opinion” or “I think.”

I get to read many comments, I get to hear many stories, get to observe many interactions, and I have been noticing everywhere that we don’t know how to express our opinion and how to put facts. We just talk.  The problem is not just in youth.  It’s in everyone.  It’s in politicians, it’s in media, it’s in streets, it’s in home.  Basically, it’s in our culture.

You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.

I understand, we cannot be always politically and technically correct, but that should not be an excuse when representing your group or country and talking to outsiders or talking to media.  If you fail to rightly express your opinion, your opinion can be taken as FACTS.  Eventually, we may end up establishing an opinion as a fact.

That’s what has happened to us. We mix up opinion with facts. We claim to know things about government without even knowing in true sense.  We claim to know things about people without even knowing in true sense.  We claim to know about many things without even knowing in true sense.  Foreigners may not know that.  Children for sure can’t know that.  Students may not know that.  Online users, readers and viewers, may not know that.  They all will go home thinking they have learned about something because you said so.  “They told in TV bla bla bla…”

Look around!! Because of the very same culture, there are all kinds of nonsense taken as facts.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, an American sociologist, once rightly said “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.”  Many people here don’t get that.  You please don’t be that.  When you are expressing your opinion, make it sound like an opinion and not a fact.

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Food For Thought

Don’t settle quick

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If you are in your early 20s, you are young.  You have at least another 5 years to worry less about finance and familial responsibilities. See? This is not the time for you to run for money, to run for car and house. The time will come that you will have no option but to run for those things. You will be stuck with familial and social responsibilities, even if you don’t want to.  BUT, THIS IS NOT THE TIME.

This is the time to know people, to try, to experiment, to explore. The energy that you have at this age bracket won’t be same 5 years from now. You will realize that only when you are nearing your 30.  So, make best use of the energy that you have. not to live like a 30-year-old person but like a 22-year-old, as you are. Your 30-year-old life anyway is there waiting for you.  But hey! your 22-year-old life won’t be there.

So, live your 20s life now. Don’t waste it by living your 30s life, just to live the same life 5 years from now.

This is the time for you to join new circle, new people, join start-ups, try building things, try creating things, try winning deals, try ruling markets, try this, try that, try everything. Even if it does not work out, you are young and you will be alright; not like in 30s, when you mess up, your chance to grow further shrinks by half.

So I say, don’t look for job in Facebook, job in Google, job in CG or NCell or NTC or some big corporate house, where you would feel secure, would earn better.  Instead, look for job in start-ups, and make it next Facebook or Google or CG or NCell.  If you want to try your own, that’s even better.  How much ever you give for big companies, you will be still only known as employee. When you give your best for start-ups, you will be known as founding team, founding member. When the start-ups become big, your name will be in its history book, you pics will be in companies wall.

That’s the beauty of working with start-ups. You are just in your 20s, I repeat, don’t run for money. Run for a team that is worth investing your time and energy up on, that you look back 5 years from now and shout “YES! WE MADE IT.” That sense of achievement, you will never feel in big companies nor job abroad, in same manner as you would feel when turning start-ups to next Facebook or Apple or another big corp.

One life, don’t waste it. One youthfulness, don’t settle too quick.

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Editorial

India trip and realization

India has so much to teach for newly formed country like Nepal.  Life is too short to learn everything from own mistakes, so wiseness is to learn from others mistakes as well.

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Image: Unsplash

A month back I had been to India. It was not for the first time but this time I had gone after 2 years with better perspectives.  Not comparing as such or passing judgment, but throughout the journey and stay, a thought was building in me.

As soon as I reached Gorakhpur, I could see and feel the chaos and lack of civic sense among people. People were honking and rushing. I saw a half-naked woman eating from a trash. I saw poor and homeless people struggling to survive. I met people in despair with no faith in system. I spent a couple of days with family that would blindly believe in superstition and tradition. As I reached Bangalore, I could witness the rat race, the traffic, the robotic life. I stayed in one of the most expensive gated community and I could see the life of those security guards and maids and the gap between the class.

Throughout the journey and the stay, I was thinking of my country, my people, and this page and our social media as a whole. How we would make voice against anything wrongdoing, how we would collectively stand against them, voice our concerns and opinions; how whatsoever government would act on.

Yes, we are economically backward, and maybe in many other fronts, but there is something in us and that is unity, the empathy. Call us sheep or nationalist or emotional cry babies, or keyboard warriors, we somehow come together in many issues and concerns that we collectively distaste. Whether a person is tea seller or tarkariwala, we somehow embrace them as they are, as didi, dai, bhai or bahini. There is still some level of empathy, respects. No matter how much we hate our government, we have somewhere this confidence that when there is a real need, we can reach out to them, whether by gathering in Maitighar or by reaching out to local representatives and we still have the confidence that our voices get heard and addressed, somehow. There is no wall as such between ruling class and others.

I could not feel that as such in India, among Indians. It’s like as if they have given up and everyone is just focused on themselves and treat each other, see each other based on needs and class and their own socially and professionally constructed groups.

Life is too short to learn everything from own mistakes, so wiseness is to learn from others mistakes as well.

Yes, India is doing great in economic front, and maybe science and technology but when it comes to politics, when it comes to social unity, when it comes to shared values and respects, there is something missing in that country. And all that thoughts and feelings made me proud of my country and people much more, and actually made me much hopeful.

I don’t know what went wrong in that country that it has ended up in this state. It surely isn’t due to its size alone or population when country of bigger its size or population larger than it is doing better. But sure, something has gone wrong making it the way it is. And when I think of my country, my people, which is taking the leap of progress, marching towards modernization and prosperity, and seeing the unity and empathy and collective wisdom in building, my biggest fear is we ever turning anything like India.

I love India, and I always say this to anyone that for me Nepal is from Mt Everest to Kanyakumari and i love every human that lives within this demography but there is a political map up to where I can exercise my right, make a difference for now. That’s where I take a long breath. I have a country, a sovereign country, whose people have not yet given up, things are not as messed up, society is not yet as divided. This gives me a hope and an immense pleasure regardless of all the lacking and shortcomings.

Of course, India with so much diversity and rich cultural background, it is not that plain and simple to understand India and humans living there, but still to judge it by a traveler’s eye, it has so much to teach for newly formed country like Nepal.  Life is too short to learn everything from own mistakes, so wiseness is to learn from others mistakes as well.

So let’s take an oath in individual level that we will learn only good from others but we will not let mistakes of others, wrong practices of others get introduced in our land, among our people.

A determination we all shall live by.

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