The life of the Indian truck driver is a human life that has been rendered inhuman by years of economic and social abuse. Although it moves our economy forward and yet lacks in many ways itself.
If India has to grow and become an economic superpower, then logistic and supply chain ecosystems need to be built. In the logistics sector for truck drivers, the problem isn’t in the way the trucks operate but instead deep rooted in the lives of the truck drivers. There is a severe paucity as no one wants to be a truck driver.
A truck driver on an average spends 25 days a month away from his family and that too, in harassed conditions. Most are affected by HIV+ or start substance abuse as a result of this lifestyle. A large percentage of them don’t get married. They are subject to severe social disrespect and stigma. For those even willing to overlook this, the profession presents some unimaginable safety hazards. An average Indian truck driver drives for 12-14 hours a day, and sleeps in the truck. Driving in stressful fatigued conditions at night time is a huge safety hazard.
Deepak Garg, Founder & CEO, Rivigo began to study the logistics industry back in 2014 and met a Sardarji from Punjab. He learnt that the only public memory the driver had was of Indira Gandhi as the Prime Minister, and operation Blue Star. He had practically lived his entire life in the trailer of that truck away from his home and met his son only five times in his life. This showcases the magnitude of the problem of millions of truck drivers in our country.
“In Jaipur, I remember meeting a truck driver at a ‘Driver Seva Kendra’. He told me that truck drivers are treated not as people from the mainstream castes but as if they were the 37th caste of the village. The manager of the Kendra said, “Saahab yeh toh saintisvi kaum hai, inka kya!” At the time, I did not even know that India had a 36 caste social system. Who would marry someone referred to as the 37th caste and wants their son, husband or father to be called that?” highlights Garg, winner at Marico Innovation Foundation Awards 2018.
India needs a million truck drivers every year. It is 10% of the country’s job agenda and yet finding even ten new truck drivers is an ordeal. It is estimated that India will have 480 drivers to every 1000 trucks if the situation continues. This is a big challenge that can derail our economic growth aspirations.
“The global-first idea of driver relay came about after I realised this situation. It is a model in which drivers change over after every few hundred kilometers and then get rostered back to their home base. Relay of drivers ensures that drivers come back home the same day, spend more time with families, leading a life of meaning, fulfilment and respect. These drivers can be local, which addresses the geographical displacement challenge for Indian rural population. They can change over so they are not fatigued which ensures road safety and guarantees lesser turnaround time and connects India faster,” adds Garg.
Three and a half years later, Rivigo is running a fleet of 5,000 trucks, have transformed the lives of 10,000 drivers with more than 30,000 drivers who are on an aggregator platform.
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The CSR Journal Team