Car and Taxi driver has the relation of nuts and bolts as they are so closely associated with each other. The driver of taxi caring his cab and on the other side the cab is all the time ready to serve him. Basic of Indian caste system was the Karma, in a sense it was the occupation that was responsible for the respect you derive from the society.
The people involved in the job of Intellect were most respected than were those who obtained their bread and butter from the blade of the sword. The same system continues even today. The highest respect goes to vocations like a medical teacher/practitioner etc. It doesn’t mean that those jobs which are regarded as menial have no real worth.
One such job which is not regarded very high in Indian society is the job of a driver. India sure is a big stretch of land with thousands of kilometers of highways stretching to every hook and corner of the nation. These highways are the feeder routes of the nation, they are not only used to haul freight but also used by the population for mass transport.
Indian trucks have come to a long way, now we have the availability of modern trailer trucks in which the driver cabin has all the features comforts but even now the maximum chunk of Indian trucks comprises of rigid chassis vehicles where the load body and driver cabin is custom built and manufactured by small vendors. The driver cabin has no basic comfort even basic air conditioning is missing. The driver has to bear the vagaries of weather. He bears it all right from 45 degree Celsius to – 5 degrees Celsius it’s all taken up as it comes. The drivers of the loader trucks along with his helper drive the load from the point of origin to the destination (this may be more than 2000 kms) with no fixed hours of driving. The conditions of a truck driver are nothing but pathetic. He stays away from his house and family members and drives a huge loaded truck through the thick and thin of the Indian traffic. The traffic conditions are also not very driver-friendly at least. A driver is expected to perform various functions apart from driving the truck. He is sure responsible for liasoning with the Indian Govenment officials manning the state check posts, He is also expected to be an expert mechanic who makes sure the truck runs smoothly.
The responsibilities are many but the compensation is pathetic. An Indian driver ordinarily earns around 20,000 Rs in a month which is barely around 300 USD(10USD PER DAY) This is a big reason why so many drivers from India make a beeline to work abroad.
As not very good options exist in India so Indian drivers, when they get options they readily take up the job to drive trucks in US, Dubai and other developed nations where certainly quality of life of a driver is much better and the respect is also much more.
Another most talked about the job of driving is the vocation of driving tourist vehicles. Normally any vocation which is associated with foreigners is taken in good spirit in India and the respect of a tourist vehicle driver certainly is much more than the driver of a freight mover. If you are doing the Golden Triangle Tour you can understand the problems faced by the taxi drivers regarding careful driving, lodging with the driver during the intercity travel.
On the outside a driver of a tourist taxi or a tourist cab/bus is smartly dressed and he is not bothered much by the Indian authorities (unlike the freight mover driver).He remains and works in close proximity with people/tourist of wealthy nations, Indian people think a tourist taxi driver makes lot of money through incentives and generous tipping
Common people think that these tourist taxi drivers are a privileged lot as they live around premier five-star hotels where common people can’t dare to stray around.
A little more careful introspection about the life of tourist taxi driver’s reveals some startling facts. These tourist taxi drivers are not allowed to venture inside these swanky five-star hotels. They remain with the clients but at the end of the day, the client retires to his swanky retreat and his driver clamours in a dingy driver room somewhere in the basement of five-star hotel where no air conditioning is available and so many drivers squabble for the precious space.
An often asked question is why drivers can’t manage a little more luxury. The answer is simple: The wages are paltry (around 10,000 INR per month) and the drivers mostly rely on tips etc for their sustenance. Due to various reasons, the car rental services in India is going through tough times. The numbers of tourist arrivals are decreasing thus also decreasing the possibility of better earning.
The hospitality trade is all about smiles. You need a smiling face to greet your clients. The drivers stay away from home for months. He might have a critically family member back home but he always wears a smile on his face to greet his clients.
With a growing economy, India expects to catch up with the developed nations very soon. This will surely mean more earning and better-living standards for the Indian drivers. Indian Government should also step in and should provide schemes like group insurance, health facilities and better working atmosphere for the drivers benefit.