“Hum gareeb hain, khana kese khayenge”, Basant Rath effect

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The new IGP Traffic of Jammu and Kashmir police Mr Basant Rath has won many fans since he’s been appointed as the new IGP. The officer who took the challenge to change the traffic scenario of Jammu in just 90 days is known to work in his own unique and dabang style. The tech-savvy officer often uses social media to update residents and warn traffic violators to ensure safety on road. The positive impacts of Basant Rath effect is confined to road safety and smooth traffic movement.

However, not everyone is lucky to avail benefits under the reign of new IGP traffic. The Orion typhoon badly hit the road vendors across state who seems to be destabilised and find no means to earn their livelihood. A number of vendors across Jewel chowk have claimed the civic authorities do not want to renew their licences, as allowing vendors to sell their goods cause traffic congestion in the area.

Street vendors are often those who are unable to get regular jobs in the remunerative formal sector on account of their low level of education and skills. They try to solve their livelihoods problems through their own meagre financial resource. They are the main distribution channel for a large variety of products of daily consumption like fruits, vegetables, readymade garments, shoes, household gadgets, toys, stationery, newspapers, and magazines and so on.

The importance of this sector cannot be undermined, especially considering that the government does not have the capacity to provide jobs to the millions of unemployed and underemployed people in India. Even in Jammu the corporate sector is able to absorb only a tiny proportion of our expanding work force. People in the informal sector ought to be encouraged to grow and prosper if the governments want to reduce unemployment and poverty in our state.

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A number of fruit vendors across Jewel chowk allegedly burnt their redi’s while protesting against Traffic department. In a number of other such cases the vendors were thrashed by traffic authorities including damage to their fruit load. The question here is if they were allowed to sell their goods for the past many years then why the authorities without framing a rehabilitation policy immediately tries to thrash these vendors out of the scene.

Under the Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulation of Street Vending) Act, 2014, the government had to constitute a TVC featuring officials of the local corporation and other members nominated form traffic police, health department, RWAs, police and the association of street vendors among others.

Several vendors who fought to have their issues addressed, couldn’t keep up the fight as they were not organised and didn’t have enough ways and means at their disposal to highlight their cause. In some cases, the vendors said they even have to pay to shop owners if they put up their stalls or redi’s outside areas designated for them. As a result the poor vendors are left with no hope to earn their means of livelihood. They have families, their kids also go to school and with the immediate encroachment drives against these vendors traffic authorities along with JMC ruins their lives.

Basant Rath once said, “Dear media guys, please keep this business of Singham and Dabangg to yourselves. I’m Basant. My Ma chose it for me,”

By thrashing out these poor fellas didn’t give you the Singham tag.  Right now the issue of concern is the sad plight of these poor vendors. Distributing money or chocolates among masses is not a valid solution to this problem, but by framing some policies for the re-establishment of these vendors Mr Rath could actually earn the title of Robinhood.