India is in the middle of a transport startups revolution. What companies like Ola and Uber started, has evolved and gone through local variants, and flavours. After the local Kaali Peeli cab union in Mumbai announced launching their own cab app 9211, now in a progressive move, Mumbai roads will soon see a radio cab service run exclusively by the LGBT community. City-based community organisation Humsafar Trust, along with Wings Travels, launched the initiative Wednesday, as reported by the Indian Express.
The initiative, a first in India, will see members of the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) community run the service, including but not limited to drivers from the LGBT community.
This marks a welcome change in India as the LGBT community has largely been marginalised in the country, and is deprived of many rights, including the right to marry. Transgenders (Hijdas) especially face a tough time in the country and are often relegated to begging and other forms of street performances to earn their livelihood.
According to the founder of the Humsafar trust, Arun Kharat, the move is initiated to provide employment to this community in India which has time and again faced discrimination in the society as well as in the professional realm. They currently have openings for about 1500 members, and the job is likely to pay 15,000-20,000 per month.
“We want to show the society that we are capable of more than just sex work and begging. However, it will take some time to change people’s minds,” said a transgender, who has been associated with Humsafar for 16 years and is part of the radio cab pilot project.
This move brings to mind the heartening initiative done in May 2014, by the Seatbelt Crew, a group of transgenders who were responsible for making the viral public service announcement video on traffic rules and safe driving.