In 1991, when India faced severe economic crisis, PM P.V. Narasimha Rao appointed apolitical Manmohan Singh as Finance Minister. India’s foreign reserves barely amounted to US$1 billion, enough to pay for a few weeks of imports.
By 1994, when he presented his historic budget, the economy was well on its way to recovery. Yet he ploughed ahead instituting deep changes in the institutions of the country.
During his speech in Parliament while presenting the Budget in 1994-95, he quoted Victor Hugo: “No power on earth can stop an idea whose time has come.”
His dream was that in a crisis India should undertake basic structural changes, which would lead to the emergence of a new country that would become a major global player in the world economy.
Singh started the process of simplification and rationalisation of the tax system. Many controls and regulation on the industry were removed, which meant the death of the Permit Raj and a free rein to entrepreneurs.
The result was that productivity in the Indian industry grew like never before.
How many women can say that they do not fear stepping out at night, even with a companion or in their vehicles? The number is negligible. Not only during late hours but even in broad daylight women have a sense of fear in them – a fear of harassment or molestation and a fear of being stalked.
This happens despite us coming a long way since our first steps on this planet. We currently inhabit a world that is much more open to women’s participation in social, economic and political spheres. More women are breaking household shackles and taking the route of a corporate lifestyle. More women are stepping out of their houses to work, to drive cars and bikes, to go for a nice dinner with their other female friends.
However, a lot is yet to be achieved. Women are still in harm’s ways, especially on roads. It is no secret that there are more male drivers than their female counterparts? Is driving a car or riding a scooter something women cannot do? No. The reason for the low number is our society’s attitudes toward female drivers and women’s fear of harassment or being stalked on roads.
Even after 70 years of independence, Indian women are yet to enjoy real freedom on roads. Crime against women has doubled in the last decade.
To ensure their safety, women have taken the course of self-defence. What can be done when a woman riding a scooter is whistled at or followed back home? More often than not, they carry with themselves small items of safety like – swiss knives, pepper or chilli sprays. But what happens if they forget to keep the pepper spray in their bag? Or when a harasser comes, they have to waste time scavenging through their bag to find the small bottle buried deep inside? Self-defence techniques come in handy only when they are available at easy disposal.
To ensure the safety of women riders, CEAT has come up with an innovative idea. They have integrated the grip of their scooters with pepper spray holders. This way, the spray is always at disposal and when in need, a woman doesn’t need to search through her bag.
The idea has manifold advantages. One does not need to consciously remember to put the spray in one’s bag each time before stepping out of the house. A bottle of spray is always fitted to the scooter.
#CEATSafetyGrip campaign is a unique step toward women empowerment. Its success will definitely aid thousands of women riding alone on roads.