Chennai

The autorickshaw drivers who make a difference

Members of the Thiruvanmiyur Autoraja association. Photo: M. Karunakaran   | Photo Credit: M. Karunakaran

Amidst Chennai’s auto drivers, a good number who fleece commuters, there do seem to be a few who practise their trade with social consciousness.

B. Jayakumar, a driver with Autoraja, uses every opportunity to spread awareness of drunk driving after his son Leelaprasad was paralysed in an accident.

“He was returning from work when a speeding vehicle rammed his two-wheeler leaving his spine fractured. Had that driver not been drunk, my son would not be wheelchair-bound today,” he says.

Besides passengers, he also regularly counsels parents of others who have suffered paralysis in accidents.

Another driver, B. Raghupathy, reads couplets from the Thirukkural to his customers, and also offers free drinking water.

“This is my way of doing something for society,” he says. Before he began driving an autorickshaw, he worked as a lightman in the film industry, and then as a plumber.

“Agriculture failed in my village and my family lost its main source of income. So, I did odd jobs for a few years before I settled into this,” says Mr. Raghupathy. He earns about Rs. 800 a day and spends Rs. 30 on a can of packaged drinking water.

S. Santhosh Kumar, also a driver with Autoraja, juggles between supplying packaged drinking water in the mornings and driving an autorickshaw in the evenings.

A commerce graduate, Santhosh funded his college education by driving an autorickshaw.

“These days, I find it difficult to find the time to drive. But I still manage a few hours. My aim is to start a firm and provide jobs to deserving candidates,” he says.

Apart from the fact that they ply their autos strictly by the meter, their attempts at giving back to society are compelling enough reasons to take a ride in their vehicles.

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Printable version | Jan 11, 2021 11:57:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/the-autorickshaw-drivers-who-make-a-difference/article6662478.ece

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