What are the welfare schemes that have been put in place for the drivers of the land ? Why is it that the role of drivers seem to be remembered only on their day- when the Drivers’ Day is held ceremoniously each year on January 14 ? Have any conscious efforts being made to salute the service rendered by the drivers every day ? And when one speaks about drivers, it would do well not to understand drivers only along those who transport goods and necessities to the State, but drivers of all type of vehicles. The drivers who drive the school vans every day ferrying school kids to school and back home from school, should not come any lesser. The question is are they remembered whenever Drivers’ Day come along each year ? If not why ? How about the auto drivers who daily ferry the women vegetable vendors to the market place every day ? How about the drivers who ferry passengers from Imphal to other district headquarters such as Ukhrul, Churachand-pur, Mao, Senapati, Kangpokpi etc. Movement of the people is such that today, passenger vehicles need not be understood only via buses but other vehicles too such as diesel autos, Tata Magic and the light commercial vehicles. With more and more students from Manipur studying in other parts of the North East region, such as Guwahati, Silchar, Shillong etc, many of them do take the road to travel from home to their institution for not all parents can afford the flight fares. How many have actually taken note of the roles of the people behind the wheels who ferry the young students ?
Yet another Drivers’ Day has come and gone by and it would be in the fitness of things for all to acknowledge the immense role played by all those behind the wheel. The question is what steps have the Government taken up to look after the welfare of the men at the wheels. What support are the family members of the drivers receiving from the Government ? It is time to do away with stereotyping the role of drivers and seriously get down to the business of thinking what policies and programmes can be taken up for the welfare of the drivers. It is also important to question whether the police who are posted at the numerous checkpoints along the National Highways are treating the drivers with the respect they deserve. Why should drivers be harassed along the highways ? It is during times such as a blockade or a bandh along the National Highways that drivers become vulnerable from the many ‘activists’ who man the highways to enforce their diktats. Why should drivers be made the scapegoats is the natural question that follows. These are some examples that come to mind when one talks about the drivers of the land but let it be clear that the drivers who are behind the wheels not only move goods and people from one place to another but also steer the place towards the next destination. No place or people can afford to remain stagnant.