Like the character from The Brave New World, I shall begin this ‘story ‘at the very beginning. I started this internship with very little knowledge of policy; economics or social science research, and I had never written as much or read as many government papers as I have in the past two weeks. It is quite easy to see that I am the most common species found on the streets of India – An Engineer.
Two and a half weeks into the internship and my knowledge of the above topics is still close to zero, but it’s much more than what I had, when I began. However, I have been exposed to so many new topics, read extensively, and have been a part of some intellectual discussions (with the other participants bringing the intellectuality, of course) and interacted with people who really want to bring about a change in the society.
For my research as part of the internship, I have been studying the battery-operated e-rickshaws in Delhi, and working on the formulation of policies to regulate the operation of similar vehicles in the state. The research topic is a very relevant one, and the media has also followed the plight of the e-rickshaws pretty closely.
My plan of action for the initial phase of the research is to establish the parameters which can be used to regulate the vehicles, and create an objective view of the technical parameters of the vehicles, as well as to look at the socio-economic aspects of the shareholders working within the system, and the ones who will be affected by their functioning.
Over the course of the last two weeks, I have interviewed many different people who are involved in the different aspects of the operation of the e-rickshaws (the rickshaw drivers, manufacturers, the auto drivers/cycle rickshaw pullers, the police and a few professors). I have also studied and analysed the Delhi Motor Vehicles Rules of 1993 and the only Act that governs the functioning of the vehicles (The Motor Vehicles Act of 1988). Additionally, I have tried to analyse the Tripura Regulations for Battery Operated Rickshaws (2014), which is the first state to legalize the operation of such vehicles in the country.
I have learnt a lot in my field visits to the places across Delhi, and the various perspectives of different shareholders within the system, which are sometimes conflicting, make it a very challenging and enjoyable task. The best part about the Researching Reality Internship is that I get to see the reality of a city that I have been living in for the past 7 years, and the realization that one keeps living in isolation to these problems. Every day, in my conversations and my observations on the streets of Delhi, I realize that we actually live in a Brave New World.