In the supposedly backward district of India, one of the most modern trends is taking place. Members of a women self-help group run 86 electric auto rickshaws in Dantewada, in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. More than 400 more autos are expected on the roads by March 2018. A courageous venture considering that the region has a huge Naxalite influence.
These autos are driven only by women and if a man is seen driving it, the owner is penalized. The e-richshaws cost Rs.1.6 lakh – almost the same as the conventional ones. The government subsidizes 80% of the cost. The drivers have smart phones and emergency button.
The e-autos make up to Rs. 350 a day and nearly 500 on week-end market days. The question is will these autos be able to run profitably without such a huge subsidy.
The Bastar region has a rare animal – black fowl – locally called Kadaknath. The biggest surprise is that the fowl is fully black – like a crow – and their meat and eggs too are black in color. The state has applied for the GI tag. Geographic indicator (GI) is used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
Kadaknath’s popularity is growing in nearby towns and cities which is resulting in a spurt in entrepreneurial activity, aggressively supported by the state government, which is keen to wean away local people from Naxalite influence. Plans are being made to take this to other bigger cities in the country.
The average fowl weighs two kilograms and fetches between Rs. 500 to Rs. 700 – three times more than normal variety.