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Shakti Scheme- Talking About The Big Picture. (Part 2)

Updated: Jul 1, 2023

How does a scheme that strives to help women, impact others in the society? Is that impact big enough to be noticed? Teens at the Young Writers' Club analysed the news, raised questions and collected information to form an original opinion about the recently introduced free bus scheme for women in Karnataka, India.

Previously on the Young Writers’ Club, we talked about the recently introduced Shakti Scheme that enables women residing in Karnataka to avail free bus rides. The group members shared their initial reactions and thoughts. Read more.

Subsequently, having grasped the details of the scheme, we took a step further to examine what repercussions this scheme has had on others in society. We looked up news articles and discovered plenty of thought provoking information.

Raising questions to know more

All the teens analysed the news, raised relevant questions to find more information to form a well informed opinion on the matter.

News: Private bus providers and more recently auto drivers are against the scheme as they claim that it has impacted their businesses in a big way.
  • Change in travel patterns: Could this change be on account of more families choosing the public bus service as women get to travel free?

  • Women availing private transport: Also, do we have statistics to indicate how many women travel regularly by private bus or autos to justify the claims of these service providers?

  • Extent of impact? Are they really impacted or is it the worry that they will be impacted? What’s the difference in price of tickets between public bus service and private bus service? If private bus is significantly more expensive then evidently, the percentage of people opting for the comforts that private service offers over public bus service is likely to be low in any case, irrespective of the Shakti scheme or not.

News: Rs.2.02 crores spent, three days soon after the Shakti scheme was launched in Karnataka

  • Drain on the exchequer: How much more cost is going to be borne by the public exchequer going forward and what are the plans to fund it. Would it mean more taxes?

  • Cost of tickets for men on the rise: A teen contributed the information that he has heard from his friends that the cost of ticket for men has gone up. So there appears to be some sort of a balancing act already in place. If that’s the case the saving that a woman brings to her family by availing free bus service at some level is taken away to a certain extent if the man in the family is paying more for his ticket. Is this really a benefit?

  • Funds for other social needs: Does this move reduce the funds demarcated for other projects or emergencies?

  • Speaking of budgetary provisions: Shouldn’t there be a budgetary provision for this scheme in the state’s annual budget? In all probability they would have estimated the required expenditure based on the number of women residing in the state. If that’s true, provisions also must have been made.

  • Promotion: Could this be a marketing effort to promote the use of state sponsored bus services? Could women be considered an effective target whose attention can be caught by offering a freebie?

  • Free tickets only for the economically disadvantaged classes: Why not make the free bus ticket open only for those who are financially not well off? - This question was raised in the previous session too and it was shot down with arguments in the lines of being less practical, no fool proof ways to ensure the information provided by the person about his/her income status is reliable or not and that it is awkward to ask some one about their income! This question came up again in the subsequent session as well. The answer to this very critical question lies in BPL cards.

Could there be a way to empower women without having a detrimental impact on rest of the society? Why not a gender equal policy instead?

That was the question we started with. The discussion brought forth many more facets to the issue. The consensus between the teens turned out to be that given the information that is available, the scheme may not be so detrimental as it is made out to be. However, what would be ideal to devise a way to benefit the people who need it the most, which means covering men and women instead of a singular focus on women alone.


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