The Manipal Auto Driver and My Experiences

The Auto union decided to slash auto fares by 30% as a token of gratitude to the no college bus policy.

I have been living in Manipal for past 25 years, was a student of MIT, then faculty and now as homemaker. These days we all residents of Manipal are equally troubled by the unfortunate incident of June 20, 2013 and to sum up one  woman said “We women feel it is not good to have girl child at all”.

I have used rickshaws in Manipal for a long time, when I was a student we had very few autos and we had to wait for an auto especially in the heavy monsoon rains. With the student population rising, the number of these along with other public transport system increased in Manipal. When I was a student in 1987 we had only one auto stand and today there are many.Auto Rickshaw Manipal 2

The scuffles between the students and auto drivers is nothing new for us. Once  a medical student with his white coat stained with blood  had to come to the police and complain of an attack by an auto driver. In 2004-05 there was big fight, MIT students damaged some of the autos, burnt a few and the university paid for the damages done by the students.

Today I know students in Manipal are up in arms again, against the auto drivers, their anger is at a boiling point. However, as an alumni,  I want the student community to  safeguard their interests and understand certain issues.

  1. Auto drivers have tough competition among themselves to earn their daily bread. Their problem they have solved by forming a union, as per the rules of the union, they have to be in line in the park and cannot take the passengers as they like. For example: When an auto comes near my home, he does not take me says ‘you go to the stand’. It was not like this, years back.
  1. Most of the drivers are not well-educated and belong to a humble backgrounds, they see all educated privileged students in Manipal and they want their children to study in good schools and do better job.
  1. Most of them are from very interior rural areas and have tough upbringing and it is reflected in their talk and behaviour. They are not sophisticated like the students of the university.
  1. Many of them are alcoholic, due to professional pressures and personal financial burdens.

My dear students, I just want to say this to you

  1. You are from educated backgrounds and privileged ones and you should be patient with these guys.  Try to solve the problems of ‘exorbitant charges’ through peaceful ways.
  2. You can demand a chart of fares between source and destination commonly used by students. You can discuss this with your college authorities or police. In the incident reported in the blog, I find it was not extra. From TC to my house near ‘Joy stores’ on Alevoor road, they take Rs.30 and from MIT auto stand, Rs.35. The distance is 1.3km; Indrali to Manipal distance may be same or more.
  3. We use our private vehicles either at Manipal or in respective home towns where you cover three times the distance; here you cover with the same amount paid to the auto. It is our mind tuned to this comparison that makes us feel they charge us more.
  4. In Mangalore minimum fare is Rs.20.
  5. I talked to a driver about not using meters, he gave me a lengthy explanation,I have forgotten the conversation, but at that point of time I felt  the explanation was convincing.

I just want you to know that we spend a lot of money in multiplexes, branded outlets and food joints. We never question them on payment.

But here in Manipal students keep fighting with the cobblers, auto drivers, fruit sellers etc. Why is this?

Once I saw a girl student was bargaining for big apple of Rs.13. She enquired why the rate of 1 Kg of apples is Rs.130, and that for a single apple is Rs.13. The vendor used the digital weighing machine and asked her to look at the weight of an apple. The girl was still not convinced. I was at the shop and the vendor said, “Look madam, doing business in Manipal, with students who do not understand simple stuff is not easy, we need a lot of patience and not everyone can be patient!”

I’ve also seen some girl students of the University visiting beauty parlours, cyber cafes (in the past) and when it came to paying for the services,  saying,  in very fine and polished English, “I am sorry I have forgotten my wallet’. I have seen this not once or twice, but quite often.

Do you know that such incidents committed by a few students gives the entire student community a bad name? Does it mean the local folks, shop keepers, beauticians etc., should take up arms against the students?

This situation is no different from what a few auto drivers do to the entire rickshaw community.

Think of it! Are all auto drivers bad and all students good?

My personal experiences

  1. During the time of crisis say accidents, these very auto drivers help us. This is my experience. Without charging a penny an auto driver admitted my husband to KMC after an accident at TC. The auto driver came to my house and reached me to KMC, did not take single penny. He said it is his human duty.
  2. Once I had run out of fuel and an auto driver dropped me to MIT. I had handed over the vehicle key to him and he could have run away with my vehicle. With all honesty and sincerity he got my vehicle filled and dropped it near MIT and gave the key to security.
  3. As far as I know, no auto driver has caused an accident and created trouble for students (barring the incident on June 20th, 2013).
  4. When at weekends, girls go out of control and are in no condition to reach their homes/place of stay, these so-called ‘bastards’ drop these girls to the hostels/accommodation, without harming them.

They are like us, most are good and a few are bad. Let us try to understand them. Confrontation does no good to anybody.

Pray that you have happy and peaceful college life and go back with sweet memories.

About the Author: Dr. Susan Rego is an alumnus and a former faculty of Manipal Institute of Technology (MIT), Manipal. She presently lives at Alevoor, Manipal.

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23 Comments

  1. Arrogance and auto-drivers seems to be synonyms at least in the case of Manipal autos. If in Mangalore autos charge Rs. 20 as minimum fare why not in Manipal?
    In Manipal if you travelled in an auto and the fare is Rs35 and if one gave Rs 50 note it is more than likely that the auto driver will give you back 10 Rs and say no change! so minimum would be 40Rs. I travelled in an auto in Karsargod a few weeks back and the meter showed Rs 32, I gave him 50 Rs note and the auto driver without saying anything gave me back Rs 18. Would this happen in Manipal? Madam, people like you should take the responsibility of training these men [?] as to how to behave and treat the customers especially our students who may not know the local language

  2. You are a fool to write this article and support the auto drivers. They are dirty thieves and should be shot!!

    • And you sir are a coward, hiding behind false names and taking potshots at people who have spoken the truth

  3. As far as I know, no auto driver has caused an accident and created trouble for students (barring the incident on June 20th, 2013).
    When at weekends, girls go out of control and are in no condition to reach their homes/place of stay, these so-called ‘bastards’ drop these girls to the hostels/accommodation, without harming them.

    point 1 shows that you are not connected to what has been happening in manipal since the past few years.. eg. 1 .only last year a drunk auto driver had hit a student in kc and when asked to apologize.. he took out his dagger and charged to kill the same student.. photographic evidence was taken and was available also.. but student was told to back off by the authorities and were told and i quote – ” they have political power, you will not be able to achieve anything.. take back your case and we ll make sure this never happens again”.. 2. my friends were taken to manipal lake by an autowalla.. where he called his buddies.. beat the shit out of my friends, looted them and took their atm pin under threat to life.. 3. i was in an auto which took the wrong side on the one way to tc from kc.. and hit a biker.. all other auto buddies of his gathered, beat up the poor kid and also extorted money from him(whatever was in his wallet)…

    and as for point 2. why only weekends??? and why only girls??? all manipal students go out of control the moment they wake up everyday.. this does not give anyone the right to rape me or my friend.. and when you being a women can not respect womens liberty and rights.. i think it is futile to expect any better from the men from your community(yes you are a localite and you view students from elsewhere as a menace to manipal, but remember! MANIPAL IS ALSO MY HOME.) .. peace

  4. Along with standing in line, the auto union can also fix rates and enforce use of meters and maybe also take some classes on behaviour

    Being poor, uneducated, from interior areas and wanting to send their children to good schools doesnt give anybody a license to be rude, extort money, be an alcoholic and abuse others.

    Being rich or educated or privileged ( as you would like to depict the students ) doesnt mean you agree to be exploited, shouted at or abused. And you dont need to be sophisticated to behave in a civil manner. In fact that is not sophistication. That is basic human decency. The students needs to bargain with every cobbler, fruit seller and auto driver, otherwise they will rip you off. Most of these fellow live in some fantasy that students are wallowing in money and have come here to do philanthropy.

    Seriously, madam, you want us to believe that the beauticians will just let go of the students if they say ” I have not brought my wallet ” or that you gave the keys of your car to a totally unknown auto driver or that autodrivers have never caused accidents. In fact you are lucky that you have never been in an accident with them. They will just gang up on you no matter whose mistake it is and again extort money from you.

    As to the last point about girls going out of control (sic) and auto drivers returning them to their residences unharmed, the rumors I hear is to the contrary. Girls are routinely abused but dont complain due to the stigma involved.

    Nobody has a doubt that most of the autodrivers are decently behaved and many of them infact are model citizens. But most of them do have a weakness at making a quick buck at the student’s expense or when situation is inevitable (like at the railway station or late hours). And a quite a few of them are indeed rude to students (they may be nice to locals).

    Save for the MIT incident in 2004/5, the students have been peaceful. A mutual coexistence is easily possible if certain minimum standard rules are laid out and strictly adhered to.

  5. Pacifism is not the solution to everything, ma’am.. The government or the police or the university is not going to do anything whatsoever about this incident on their own. That much is guaranteed. I would love to be proven wrong, but we all know how it is in our country. The only way anything (such as standardisation of prices/ ID cards etc.) can be accomplished is by means which the students can find. And as we are all educated, i’m sure that no one will resort to violence against any human being. Please dont try to stop a peaceful protest by writing such misleading articles, it’s probably the ONLY thing that anyone is doing or ever going to do about this incident.

  6. — “Many of them are alcoholic, due to professional pressures and personal financial burdens.”

    This line is simply awesome, and makes my heart go out for the auto drivers. How is consumption of alcohol going to help a personal financial burden? Poor guys, what would they do other than to get high on alcohol and assault a female student. Your statement, seems to indicate that most of the auto drivers are reckless and stupid.

    — “I talked to a driver about not using meters, he gave me a lengthy explanation,I have forgotten the conversation, but at that point of time I felt the explanation was convincing.”

    Yeah, sure. I once had a discussion with some corrupt policemen who were refusing to file a FIR, they gave me a lengthy explanation, I have forgotten the conversation, but at that point of time I felt the explanation was convincing.

    — “I’ve also seen some girl students of the University visiting beauty parlours, cyber cafes (in the past) and when it came to paying for the services, saying, in very fine and polished English, “I am sorry I have forgotten my wallet’. I have seen this not once or twice, but quite often.”

    What s stopping the owner of the establishment from calling the police or to insist the student to arrange for the money through a friend? Further, if this is a really big problem for the local businesses they can always insist on payment first, and only then deliver the services. It seems you are more bothered about this than the businesses.

    — “I just want you to know that we spend a lot of money in multiplexes, branded outlets and food joints. We never question them on payment.”

    Is visiting a multiplex, branded outlet or a food joint as important as a commute. Would you accept this argument from your employer and settle for a 50% deduction in your salary if the employer were to give the reason that you spend a lot of money on luxuries that are not necessary.

  7. Hi, To certain point what you said is true, but this kind of extortion is called as being bribed, and no one likes that, May be there is tough competition, then why not raise the meter price? For every passenger paying the money shown on the Rick’s meter is a fair price, anything above that is getting bribed! This is a really bad system and needs to be stopped. I strongly disagree with paying 2 times the fee, ‘one and a half’ etc…

  8. Times are changed madam,forget about past things are not same anymore.There is no system in place that’s why all trouble.Dont think autowalas are papa,they are the most notorious money sucking machines,for whatever the reason.i,m sorry to say that if the same incident if it would have been happened with you or your close ones then then I,m sure your tone may have been different.

    • And how does that help in punishing the guilty? How does that help those who have already been wronged?

  9. I think the author has been lucky when it comes to going around in Manipal in autos. I have observed one thing that the auto drivers give more respect to elderly people and thus the author has come into a conclusion that most of the drivers are good. During the old days not many rickshaws were there and maybe they were good, but the situation is different now. These drivers feel they have the freedom to do anything as they will be backed up by politicians, unions, organizations etc.. Since they are quite large in number politicians will support them as they get votes in return. This is how it goes. I’m not criticizing but just telling what i feel. Their way of driving is another big issue to be concerned about. They enter main roads from side roads as if no one is on the main roads and even though they are the cause for the accidents they charge or demand more money from the person who lost control and hit their autos and also scare them by getting a large group of people. This has happened alot of times and people know it. Drivers like Sena , Pandu and a few more are really good and society respect them but not all. I would like to correct the authors statement that most auto drivers are bad and a few are good! No offence to anyone and sorry if i have hurt anyone in this comment!

  10. ‘to sum up one woman said “We women feel it is not good to have girl child at all”.’

    because someone else can’t keep themselves in control, you expect that girls not exist! Remember that you were a girl also. I’m disappointed that a MITian would say this.

      • did you actually read the article? nowhere in the post does the author reprimand such a comment.. rather it sums up to what the “residents of Manipal” and the author have been feeling in these “equally troubled” times.. maybe the author did not mean it.. but when you state comments that are as disgusting and infuriating as these.. you need to explicitly condemn them..

  11. After paying the auto driver off, I realised that I had left my phone in
    the vehicle. I ran behind the auto but could not catch up. I reported
    the incident to the manager of Green park Hotel, where I and my parents are
    staying. He told me that Manipal auto drivers are good and I would get
    my phone back. He has been proved right.

    • My friend left his phone inside an auto. He realized it moments after getting down from the auto. He immediately shouted and asked the auto to stop. But instead, the driver started speeding away from him..he chased it from MIT till sheela, but then lost him. We even called the auto union leader and requested him to get the phone returned and agreed to pay them Rs.1000 for it.
      He still didn’t get is phone back.

  12. well said madam!!! im a student of kmc mangalore..they drive auto for a living not for service!! if they are that hurt about charges get a personal vehicle or even better a bicycle!! far more healthier and more environment friendly and zero maintenance..simple

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