Well, they're right. That is much more modern than the rickshaws of yore! Oh, right. Behold! The rickshaws of yore!
But wait! That was the artist's rendition up there. It didn't quite turn out to look exactly like that. There were apparently a few alterations to the overall design that were made. See if you can spot them in the photo below. Behold! The real "soleckshaw"!
Oh, good Lord, what the hell is that? Did the "soleckshaw" just get back from Hawaii? What's with the brightly colored garland adorning the wave of the future there? Well, if you're asking a one Anumita Roychoudhary of the Delhi-based Centre for Science and Environment (and really, who else are you going to ask?), that person will tell you, "Rickshaws were always environment friendly. Now this gives a totally new image that would be more acceptable to the middle-classes." Oh, it's a totally new image all right. And seriously? THAT is more acceptable to the middle class? What, pray tell, would less acceptable consist of? NO garland?
And this is kind of where the whole idea falls apart for me. Well, for them, really. But what they don't seem to quite get is that their initial vision looks nothing like the final product. I mean NOTHING like it. And so when the CSIR director says stuff like ""In the age of global warming, the soleckshaw, with improvements, can be successfully developed as competition for all the petrol and diesel run small cars." I think he's a bit delusional. Competition for the vehicles that run on gasoline? I'm not seeing it. At all! The director makes another reference to global warming and it's relationship to the "soleckshaw" by saying "Greenhouse gas emissions are showing an increasing trend year on year and 60 per cent of this comes from the global transport sector." Well, perhaps if they all rode on elephants as well, that would help cut down on some of those gases also. Oh, look.
And while that's all fine and everything and quite possibly true (I can't research everything!), I'm unaware that the basic rickshaw (you know, the one powered by a guy running), was all that big of a contributor of greenhouse gas emissions! In fact, I'll go out on a limb and say that I'm pretty sure they weren't a contributor AT ALL! And now, while there still won't be any greenhouse gas emissions from the "soleckshaw", there will now be batteries that will eventually be unable to be recharged and then need to be disposed of, taking up more space in more landfills; and there will also be more power needing to be generated due to more power being consumed by charging the batteries. (This is why I hate it when products tout themselves as being "green". Because from what I can tell, "green" isn't always all that much different from "not green" and it's worse or the same in a lot of cases. But say that something is "green" and you'll have morons lined up three deep to get whatever it is.)
And if the rickshaw pullers reactions to the "soleckshaw" is any indication, then they're just as delusional as the folks over there at the CSIR. Take a one Bappa Chatterjee, a 25-year old who is one of the 500,000 rickshaw pullers in Dehli. "Pedalling the rickshaw was very difficult for me. I used to suffer chest pains and shortage of breath going up inclines. This is so much easier." Dude, you're 25! But, then again, you are pulling a cart full of human beings. I hope it's as much of an improvement as he wants it to be, but I don't think it's going to quite match up to his hopes. That's because he also said "Earlier, when people hailed us it was like, 'Hey you rickshaw puller!' Police used to harass us, slapping fines even abusing us for what they called wrong parking. Now people look at me with respect." You think?! You think this gets you looks of respect?! Behold!
Oh, sure. That'll do it. Another delusional rickshaw puller, a one Mohammed Matin Ansari, showed his delusional thinking patterns when he said that the "soleckshaw" offered "parity with car, bus and scooter drivers." "Now we are as good as them," he said. Do you think? Really? That must be because, according to the article, "Gone are the flimsy metal and wooden frames that give the regular Delhi rickshaws a tacky, sometimes dubious look." Right. And the new "soleckshaw", it isn't tacky at all!
Oh, wait. I just saw a picture of Dehli. Now I understand why they both think that they will commandeer respect and not have to hear "Hey! You rickshaw puller!" hollered at them all the live long day. Behold! Dehli!