Kerala Plus Two English Textbook Answers Unit 3 Chapter 1 A Three-Wheeled Revolution (Interview)
Read And Respond
Which incident shows that Irfan had a problem solving skill?
Once Irfan was travelling in a rickshaw and in the middle of the journey he was very thirsty. He asked the rickshaw puller if he had any water. He said he did not have because it was expensive to get bottles of water and stack them. Immediately he thought there was a market for selling water bottles in the rickshaws. This incident shows Irfan had a problem-solving skill.
Why does Irfan think that entrepreneurship is in his blood?
Irfan thinks that entrepreneurship is in his blood because he had an interest in business from a very early age. He was enterprising since his childhood. During the stock market scam on 1992, his father and his friends lost a lot of money. Irfan helped them to recover their losses and even make profits.
What encouraged Irfan to open his own portfolio management firm?
During the stock market scam in 1992, his father and his friends lost a lot of money. Irfan started taking an interest in the stock market and began researching various companies. Using his advice, his father’s friends recovered their losses and even made profits. This encouraged Irfan to open his own portfolio management firm.
What was Irfan’s prize winning business proposal?
Irfan suggested that rickshaws should be redesigned so that the spaces on the vehicles could be sold for advertising and brand promotion. He also suggested that additional incomes could be got by selling water, juice, biscuits, mobile cards and newspapers to the passengers in the rickshaws. This was Irfan’s prize winning business proposal.
Why did Irfan refuse the prize money of the TV realty show?
He wanted to provide the rickshaw pullers with insurance, ID-cards and uniforms. He wanted to run the business as a ‘not-for-profit’ organization. He thought it to be the best way to sustain the business and the easiest way to get banks to give out loans. The organizers of the TV show did not agree to this model and so he refused to take the prize money.
Where did Irfan get his seed money for his project?
Irfan got his seed money for his project from his family and friends.
What kind of facilities does SammaaN offer the rickshaw pullers?
They are given training on basic etiquette and traffic rules. Then they are helped to get a bank loan for a new rickshaw. They feel empowered because they are pulling their own rickshaws. They are also given accident and health insurance. Each driver is given an ID card. He has to wear uniform while operating the vehicle. The rickshaw puller now becomes a member of the SammaaN family.
What are the ‘other benefits’ than monetary benefits offered to the rickshaw pullers?
Rickshaw pullers now have a sense of belonging and empowerment. Their wives and children attend free evening classes called Sammaan Gyaan. SammaaN has brought dignity to those previously known as menial laborers.
What are the other activities of the SammaaN foundation?
The SammaaN foundation runs free evening classes called Sammaan Gyaan which is attended by the wives and children of rickshaw pullers. They also engage in a lot of trading activities like selling water, juice, pre-paid phone cards etc. to the passengers in the rickshaw. SammaaN has brought dignity to those previously known as menial labourers. SammaaN is profitable. Last fiscal year, it made a profit of 8 lakhs. It has an R&D Wing researching on solar-powered fibreglass rickshaw.
Why does Irian think that rickshaw is not a dying breed?
Irfan thinks that rickshaw is not a dying breed for many reasons. Rickshaws are still popular in many parts of the country. In the last 2 to 3 years the number of rickshaws has actually increased in New Delhi by 20%. It is the popular transport to and from the metro stations. Rickshaws are the vehicles of the future as they are environmental friendly. There is R&D wing of SammaaN working on a solar-powered fibreglass rickshaw.
What do you understand by solar-powered rickshaw?
Today the rickshaw puller has to use his physical power to make the rickshaw move. In the solar-powered rickshaw, solar power will be used for moving the rickshaw. That way the rickshaw puller will not have to struggle physically.
What is Irfan’s suggestion to tackle unemployment in our country?
Irfan thinks that entrepreneurship should be made as a career. An entrepreneur is one who sees an opportunity and puts conscious efforts to make it an enterprise. People discourage youths from taking this path. Entrepreneurship can tackle unemployment in the country.
Activity I (Think and Respond)
What qualities, do you think, should an entrepreneur possess?
An entrepreneur is one who sees an opportunity and puts conscious efforts to make it an enterprise. He should have courage, vision and other leadership qualities. He should be willing to take risks. He should remember ‘No pain, no gain’. He should have a dream and then work hard to realize it.
Why do people discourage youth to choose the path of entrepreneurship?
People discourage youth to choose the path of entrepreneurship because they think they will end up in losses. Parents encourage children to look for employment in the government service or in some companies where they can get a regular salary. Entrepreneurship involves risks because the enterprise might fail.
Irfan Alam says that “it is important to take risks to achieve your dreams”. Comment on this statement
To achieve one’s dreams one has to take risks. A child will never learn to walk if he is afraid to take the first step. The Wright brothers would never fly if they were afraid. No pain, no gain. If you have dreams you should be prepared to take risks. Could men go to the moon if they refused to take the risk?
What are your dreams in life? How do you plan to pursue your dreams?
My dreams in life are to become a good engineer and a good person. I will study hard and try to get high marks in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry. I know that engineers are the ones that make the world a worthy place to live in with all the engineering marvels we witness today. Above all, I want to be a good person so that I can help my fellow human beings to live a life of comfort.
Have you read or heard of other young and successful entrepreneurs. Share their stories in your class.
I know about a young and successful entrepreneur. His name is Jison Jose. After his M.Com, he did his MCA. Instead of looking for. government jobs or employment in a company, he started his own company called G & J Infotech. He took two rooms in a building in town and started the office there. He had financial help from his family. He hired some experts and started producing various kinds of soft software which soon became very famous. The most popular one is called E-School Solutions. He now has some 30 employees in his company. His wife Dhanya, who is also an MCA holder, ably assists him in the work. Currently Jison is the local Chairman of the prestigious organization, JCI (Junior Chambers International), and is busy doing a lot of social service to improve the plight of the poor.
Activity II (E-mail)
The R&D wing ofSammaaN is planning to redesign rickshaws with necessary improvements. Think about some useful modifications that you would like to suggest to Irfan Alam. Negotiate your ideas with your partner and make a final list of modifications.
To: [email protected]
I have come to know that you are planning to make some useful modifications in the rickshaws to improve their services. I would suggest the following modifications.
a) Provide the rickshaws with a phone from which travellers can call. Of course, the travellers will be charged for the calls they make.
b) Let each rickshaw have a small space where tissues are kept. The travellers can use them to blow their nose, if they want, and clean their hands.
c) Provide a small bin on one side of the rickshaw so that people can deposit the skin of the fruits, or the wrappers of candies, or the used issues, without littering the road.
I hope you will give due consideration to my suggestions.
Activity III (Paragraph writing)
Study the following table. A variety of career options has been listed in the first column. What kind of responsibilities do these careers demand? What skill does a person require to do these jobs?
|Computer Systems Analyst||Monitor Computer programs||Critical thinking. Troubleshooting|
|Finance Advisor||Manage the finances||Vision, Attention to detail|
|Fitness trainer||Train people to be fit||Yoga, karate, kung fu|
|interpreter/Translator||Interpreting/translating||Linguistic capabilities. Understanding power|
|Dental Hygienist||Keep the teeth and mouth dean||Some medical skill, first-aid|
|Substance Abuse Counsellor||Prevent people from drug abuse||Knowledge of drugs, Skill in Counselling, patience|
|Web Content writer||Writing content for the Web||Versatility, writing skills|
|Special Education Teacher||Train the handicapped||Knowledge, Patience|
|Food Photographer||Making food look attractive, to be used in advertisements||Photographic skills, a sense of beauty|
|Fashion designer||Making attractive dresses||Sense of beauty, designing. Fashion consciousness|
Now think about the skills you have. What roles and responsibilities could you assume based on your potentials and your aptitude? Discuss with your friend and write a paragraph about the suitable jobs for you. Also write why you think they are suitable for you. (You may/may not choose a career from the given table.
There are two jobs which I like to do – one is teaching and the other is translating. I want to be a teacher for certain reasons. A teacher is the person who moulds the characters of the youth. If the teacher is good, he will be able to influence the children to do positive things and to become good citizens, bringing name for themselves, their families, their localities and the nation itself. I like teaching because I am good at languages and my favour language is English. I realize that the English used in our schools is of poor quality because many of the teachers are not well-trained. There is the danger of Manglish replacing English. I want to do my best to remedy the situation. I like children and I like to interact with them.
I like their fun-loving nature and harmless pranks. So my first choice is to become a teacher.
The second job I might like to do is that of translation. Translation is not an easy job. Aword-to-word translation might look foolish. There is the story of a student who translated the Malayalam idiom ‘alkarku Kayyum kanakkumilla’ as people had no hands and arithmetic. Another boy translated ‘Pazhamchollu’ as banana talk. A translator must be aware of the idioms and phrases in a language and look for equivalent idioms in the target language. Merely replacing a word by a similar meaning does not make proper translation. I am good at languages and I believe I can be ‘a good translator. I also want to translate some fine novels in Malayalam into English.
Activity IV (Listening and Note-taking)
Making notes and taking notes are different things. In ClassXI you learned howto make notes, while reading a piece of writing. Here we are going to see certain things about note-taking. You can take notes when you are listening to a lecturer or interviewing a person. Note-taking helps to improve your listening skills.
A very systematic and organized format for taking notes is called the Cornell Method. Here are the steps to follow:
- Draw a margin 2-3 inches
- As you listen to the lecture, write all the important ideas on the right side.
- Leave some space after each idea (This is for filling in details later.)
- After the lecture complete the spaces with as many words and phrases you heard.
- For every important bit of information, write a ‘cue’ in the left margin.
Here is an example:
In the first Unit you read the speech The 3Ls of Empowerment’ by Christine Lagarde. Imagine that she is speaking to you and you are taking down notes.
THE 3Ls of Empowerment
- 21 st century poses many challenges.
- 1/2 of world’s population is women.
- Women denied opportunities, so no economic growth.
- 3 Ls
- Learning helps women to break shackles
- More in the developing world African adage
- Labour helps women to flourish and achieve their potential.
- Equal pay for equal work Eliminating gender gaps Changing existing laws regarding inheritance
- Leadership to enable to fulfil innate abilities and talents.
- Dare the difference Stepping out of comfort zones.
Conclusion: A more prosperous world.
Activity V: (Identifying Facts from Opinions)
Read the following statements and say whether they are facts or opinions, Write F against tacts and O against opinions.
a. The fastest land-dwelling creature is the cheetah. – F
b. Facebook was launched in 2004. – F
c. Switzerland is the most beautiful country. – O
d. Harry Potter and the HALF Blood Prince sold 9 million copies in the first 24 hours of its release. – F
e. Oranges contain both calcium and vitamin C. – F
f. The more money someone has the more successful they are. – O
g. It is cheaper to buy mobile phones online. F
h. People should be encouraged to eat vegetarian food.-O
Read the following paragraphs and identify the facts and opinions. List them in your Activity Log.
Facts: You can travel around the country in Shinkansen (bullet) train. They connect major cities in Japan. They are nick named bullet trains because they go very fast and have pointed noses like a bullet. They have great speed and punctuality. They are comfortable. All the seats face forward, and there is plenty of leg room. Only a few accidents have taken place in their history and no deaths. They are expensive. Train stations are in the middle of the city.
Opinion: A ticket to travel to another city can cost almost as much as an airline ticket would. It is often convenient to take a bullet train instead of flying because you will arrive exactly where you want to be.
Now find out 3 facts and 3 opinions from the interview with Irfan Alam.
Facts: a) Rickshaw pullers get greater incomes,
b) They are insured against accidents,
c) Their wives and children get free evening classes at Sammaan Gyaan.
Opinions: a) Rickshaws have a great future,
b) One has to take calculated risks to achieve his dream,
c) It is with the blessing of his mentors and well-wishers that he carries his journey forward.
Activity VI (Understanding Idioms)
An idiom is a combination of words in common use that has a figurative meaning. Study the idioms given on page 103.
Look at the following sentences. The words/phrases underlined are idioms. Rewrite the sentences in plain English.
a. Go back to square one = return to the starting point
b. A ballpark number = roughly accurate number
c. Big picture = a complete view
d. Change of pace = bring some variety in life
e. Get down to business = to get serious
f. Ground-breaking = innovative
g. In a nutshell = In short
h. Under the table = secretly (paying bribes)
i. Thinking out of the box = thinking freely
j. Stay on your toes = Stay alert
Read the following. The underlined words/ phrases can be rewritten with some common idiomatic expressions in English. Choose the appropriate idioms from the box below to replace them and rewrite the sentences. You may change forms, if necessary.
a. Once in a blue moon
b. Sitting on the fence
c. The last straw
d. Add insult to injury
e. Missed the boat
Activity VII (Phrasal Verbs)
Read the following passage. It tells about some important events in the life of Irfan Alam. Fill in the blanks choosing the appropriate phrasal verb from the brackets and complete the passage.
Irfan was brought up in a village in Bihar. At a very small age he entered into stock trading business and made up for his father’s losses in stock market. Later, Irfan set up his own portfolio management firm.
Phrasal Verbs: A phrasal verb is a verb followed by a preposition or an adverb; the combination creates a meaning different from the original verb alone.
- To get – to obtain
- To get together – to meet
Here are some more phrasal verbs used frequently. Use them to fill in the blanks. You may change the form if necessary.
- Look forward to
- Run out
- Keep up
- Called off
- Put up with
- Made up
- Carried away
- Do without
- Passed away
Activity VIII (Loanwords)
You have now come across the word ‘entrepreneur’. This word is borrowed from the French word ‘entreprendre’ which means to undertake’. Such words are called Loan words as they are borrowed from other languages.
The following words from the interview are also borrowed from other languages. Can you find out their origins? Use your dictionary and complete the table.
|Loan word||Pronunciation||Word of origin||Meaning of the original||Language of origin|
|Rickshaw||rik.sha||rickshaw||a two wheeled vehicle||India|
|Portfolio||portfolio||portafoglio||a file to carry||Italian|
Here are some loan words which we often use:
Bureau, guru, yoga, chef, cuisine, amorous, omniscient, pyjamas, raja, coolie
Activity IX (Let’s Edit)
Correcting the e-mail sent by Aijun.
(Hint: tenses, prepositions and articles)
My name is Arjun. I am a Plus Two student in a reputed school at Thrissur, I am in the Commerce Stream, with Maths and Computer Science as my optional subjects. I had secured A Grade in all subjects in my Plus One Exam and I expect to score even better in the Plus Two exam.
I am writing this mail because I can’t decide what course to choose for my higher education. I am good at computer and I like Statistics. I like English also and I read a lot.
Could you please tell me what kind of career would suit me and which course I should choose for my graduation? Please reply at the earliest as I am really anxious about my future.
After sending Ms mail, Arjun discusses his confusions with his friend, Robin, who is a college student Here is the conversation between the two. However, the punctuations in the following conversation are missing. Punctuate appropriately and rewrite the conversation.
Arjun: Hello Robin!
Robin: Hi Arjun! What’s up?
Arjun: Nothing much, buddy! I’m a bit confused
Robin: Confused? Why? What’s the matter?
Arjun: You knowthat I’m completing my Plus Two this year. So, I’m confused about what to do next.
Robin: Oh, I understand! So, have you come to
Arjun: Not yet. I’m not much aware of the different
curses and careers suitable for me.
Robin: Oh really! Then why don’t you seek advice from some career counsellors? They could give you suggestions based on aptitude tests.
Arjun: Yeah. I’ve already sent an email to a counsellor. Hope he would reply soon.
Robin: That’s good. Even I joined this course after some counselling sessions.
Arjun: Oh! Is it so? Then I think I did the right thing. OK Robin! Bye then!
Robin: Bye Arjun! See you and let me know your decision.
Arjun: OK! See you!
Read And Reflect
There are people daring enough to go to any extent to pursue their dreams. For them, success is not just about money and popularity; it is beyond. Many young people are into social enterprises which demand a lot of commitment and hard work. They reach out to the community in their own way and try to make a difference. For them, success means happiness forthemselves and for others. Here is a true story of a girl, as narrated by her.)
Three Wheeled Revolution (Interview) Edumate Questions and Answers
Even extraordinary personalities like Irfan Alam or Shaheen Mistry may be criticized. Imagine that you happened to read such a biog entry severly criticising both of them and you are deeply upset with some of the points in the blog post. Now prepare a short article commenting on the blog post on Irfan Alam and Shaheen Mistry.
I am deeply upset about a recent blog post against extraordinary personalities like Irfan Alam and Shaheen Mistry. To a reasonable reader both of them are doing laudable things and there is no reason why anyone should criticise their activities. Irfan Alam is an entrepreneur who changed the lives of many people through his innovative enterprise. He found that the lives of rickshaw pullers in India were quite miserable. There are some 10 million rickshaws operating in India.
Most of the rickshaw pullers don’t own the rickshaws. They hire the rickshaw for Rs. 30 or 40 per day. Irfan Alam founded an organization called SammaaN which would help rickshaw pullers to get bank loans to get their own rickshaws. The rickshaw pullers were also taught how to make some extra money, by allowing advertisements in the rickshaws and selling items like water, fruit juice, and prepaid cards for phones in the rickshaws. Irfan has thus made the lives of rickshaw pullers and their families better.
Shaheen Mistry is a social activist and educator. She is the founder of Akanksha Foundation. She is also the CEO of Teach for India since 2008. Moved by the sorry plight of slum children who had no facilities for education,’ Shaheen Mistry found Akanksha. Its basic principle is providing underprivileged children with opportunities for learning. Akanksha wants the classroom to be just a safe place for the children where they can forget, at least for some time, their troubles at home and study and also enjoy. Akanksha came into existence in 1991. Now it has more than 3500 children, with 58 centres and 6 schools.
Thus we see both Irfan Alam and Shaheen Mistry are doing some laudable services to the society. But the blogger seems to be unhappy with what they are doing. He says that selling things in rickshaws reduces the business of the shopkeepers and the centres and schools run by Akanksha reduce admissions in private schools. I strongly believe that this blogger is an agent of big shopkeepers and school managers who want to exploit people.
I would say to Irfan Alam and Shaheen Mistry to continue with their excellent work aimed at the welfare of the society. They should not pay any attention to the destructive critics who are paid agents of profiteers.
Don’t you enjoy short trips and tours? Imagine that you made an interesting trip to New Delhi and visited the various historical monuments like the Taj Mahal in Agra, The Red Fort, Indian Parliament etc. After the trip you decide to send an e-mail to your friend sharing your experience of the trip. Draft the e-mail.
Sub: Trip to New Delhi
At last I was able to make the trip to New Delhi. From Nedumbassery we took a flight to Delhi. It took about 4 hours to reach Delhi. Since we reached Delhi around 8 in the evening, we straightaway went to a hotel near the airport. It is an expensive hotel but since our stay there was only for one day, we did not mind the expenses. We had a scrumptious dinner and we went to bed early.
Next day we had an early breakfast and then we went to see the Red Fort. Red Fort is a historical fort. It was the main residence of the emperors of the Mughal dynasty for nearly 200 years, until 1857. It is wonderful to see. From there we went to see the Parliament buildings. The construction of buildings took six years and the opening ceremony was performed on 18 January 1927 by the then Governor-General of India, Irwin. The parliament is 560 feet (170 m) in diameter and covers an area of 6 acres (2.4 ha). The Central hall consists of the chambers of Lok sabha, Rajya Sabha and the Library hall. Surrounding these three chambers is the four- storeys circular structure providing accommodations for members and houses Parliamentary committees, offices and the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs. We returned to the city for the night and went to hotel in Connaught Place.
The following day.we went to Agra to see the Taj Mahal. Taj Mahal is an ivory-white marble mausoleum on the south bank of the Yamuna river. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favourite wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is really a wonder and you ought to see it to enjoy its beauty. No wonder Tagore described it as the “tear-drop on the cheek of time”. In the evening we took a bus to Delhi and stayed in a hotel forthe night. Next day morning we started our journey home by train. It was wonderful trip and I will never forget it.
Say Hi to all at home!
Read the following sentences from A Three Wheeled Revolution’.
“There are several other benefits on which we cannot put a monetary value. Rikshaw pullers now have a sense of belonging and empowerment”.
Now, attempt the questions given below.
a) Who makes these statements?
b) What does the word “monetary” mean in this context?
c) List and explain some of the initiatives undertaken by the speaker to empower the rickshaw
a) Irfan Alam
c) The SammaN Foundation runs evening classes called SammaN Gyan. These classes are attended by the wives and children of rickshaw pullers. The foundation also engages in a lot of trading activities like selling water, juice, prepaid phone cards etc. to the passengers in the rickshaw. SammaN has an RD Wing researching on solar-powered fibreglass rickshaws
Great people are always very positive in their attitude and take a lot of risks to achieve their goals. Shaheen Mistry and Irfan Alam are people of this kind. What is your view on taking a positive attitude, setting a goal in life and working hard to achieve it? Share your views in a paragraph.
Great people are always very positive in their attitude and take a lot of risks to achieve their goals. Irfan Alam made the life of rickshaw pullers meaningful with his SammaN foundation. Shaheen Mistry brought education to thousands of the underprivileged children who would have been left out of the mainstream society without her help. It is such people that help the world to progress. I too have a very positive attitude. I love and respect people who set a goal in their lives and work hard to achieve it. I remember the words of Abdul Kalam to dream high and strive to achieve it.
In English they say ‘No pain no gain’. Those who want to get pre’cious gems have to dive deeper in the sea. Without taking risks nobody can achieve great things. Failure is an inevitable forerunner to success. I am always reminded of the story of Robert Bruce, the king of Scotland who learned his lesson from a spider. He had lost his kingdom and had run away to a forest. There he was sitting and brooding. He then noticed a spider sitting on a stone trying to connect the other end of its gossamer to a stone that was a bit away. It jumped. It failed. Bruce was watching. Again it jumped and failed again.
It succeeded only on the 8th jump. Bruce thought: “If this lowly spider can continue jumping even after 7 failures, why not I try again to get back my kingdom?” He went back, organized his army and fought well and drove away his enemies and became the king once again. Great people don’t give up so easily!
You have read the interview with Irfan Alam, the founder of SammaaN Foundation. You are deeply impressed with his creative ideas in transforming the lives of the rickshaw pullers. Now prepare an e¬mail to congratulate Irfan Alam and suggest a few more ways to make rickshwas more profitable.
Congrats! You have been doing a wonderful job in ameliorating the lives of the rickshaw pullers and their families. You have made them dignified citizens, proud of their profession. Your starting “Gyan SammaN’ to educate the wives and children of the rickshaw pullers was an excellent idea. It is good to know that SammaN’s RD Wing is researching into the possibility of making fibre glass rickshaws. I know that there are advertisement spaces in the arickshaws and they are selling water, juice and prepaid phone cards to the passengers in the rickshaw. To make the rickshaw pullers earn more money I suggest that you start selling stationery and cosmetics in the rickshaws. They can also undertake home delivery of goods from shops to various homes.
Read the sentence given below:
“An entrepreneur is one who identifies an opportunity and puts in conscious efforts to make it an enterprise”.
Now, answer the questions given below.
a) Who is the speaker?
b) What is your opinion about beginning a start up business?
c) Do you have any4nteresting plan for a start up? Explain.
a) Irfan Alam.
b) I have a positive opinion about it. There are very many commercial and engineering graduates who go from place to place looking for jobs. But they can’t find easy jobs. To accommodate such people, it is better to begin a start up business.
c) A start-up is an entrepreneurial venture which is typically a newly emerged, fast-growing business that aims to meet a marketplace need by developing or offering an innovative product, process or service. A start-up is usually a company such as a small business, a partnership or an organization designed to rapidly develop a scalable business model.
I have a plan for a start-up which can market e-school solutions. “E-school solutions’’ is a software that will assist school management and parents. The school management can easily record attendances, fee payments, marks for the various examinations, attendance of staff, their salaries, their promotions and things like that. Parents can log in with a password and see how the children are progressing in their studies.
A small paragraph on TIME MANAGEMENT prepared by a student is given below. There are a few mistakes in it. Identify them and write the correct form.
Time is most precious than money. Money lose can be regained, but time once lost is lost forever. Time and tide waits for no one. A lost opportunity may spoil one’s life. Those who doesn’t act in time would repent afterwards.
|most precious||more precious|
Three Wheeled Revolution (Interview) Summary in English
“I am a simple human being but a big dreamer. I come from rural India and I am passionate about entrepreneurship. I love ideas and innovation. I was enterprising since my childhood.”
Three Wheeled Revolution Interviewer
Congratulations on your achievement When and how did you conceive this idea?
Irfan Alam: I was 17 at that time. I was travelling in a rickshaw and in the middle of the journey I was very thirsty.
I asked the rickshaw puller if he had any water. He said he did not have because it was expensive to get bottles of water and stack them. Immediately I thought there was a market for selling water bottles in the rickshaws. The very next day I talked to 5 rickshaw pullers and gave them 8 bottles of water each. I told them the profit would be split between them and me. For each bottle the profit would be Rs. 2. The very first day I got 8 rupees.
I: You were very young when you came up with and executed this idea.
IA: Yes. I think entrepreneurship is in my blood. I had an interest in business from a very early age. During the stock market scam in 1992, my father and many of his friends lost a lot of money. That was when I took interest in the stock market and started researching various companies.
Using my advice, all of my father’s friends recovered their losses. Many of them made profits. This enabled me to start my first portfolio management firm at the age of 13. When my parents found that I was dabbling in the rickshaw sector as well, they asked me to stop doing it and concentrate on my studies. But my interest never went away. I kept reading and researching about this sector all through my college days in Pondichery where I pursued my Master’s of Foreign Trade degree.
I: What was the spark that revived this idea?
In 2006, an Indian TV show called Business Baazigar began an entrepreneur hunt and solicited ideas for new businesses. I entered this contest with a proposal. My idea was to organize the rickshaw sector and make it a profitable venture. I suggested that rickshaws should be redesigned so that the spaces on the vehicles could be sold for advertising and brand promotion. I also suggested that additional incomes could be got by selling water, juice, biscuits, mobile cards and newspapers to the passengers. I won the show and was offered the seed money of Rs. 150 lakhs.
I: Was SammaaN started with this seed money?
IA: No. I realized that the entry barrier to this business was very low. The only way to sustain this business was to get the loyalty of the rickshaw pullers. I wanted to provide them with insurance, ID-cards and uniforms. I wanted to run it as a ‘not-for-profit’ organization. At that time I did not think about any social entrepreneurship. I thought it to be the best way to sustain the business and the easiest way to get banks to give out loans. Since the organizers of the TV show did not agree to this model, I refused to take the seed capital.
IA: As I learned more about the rickshaw pullers, their lives and theirsorrowful condition, it became a social cause. There are some 10 million rickshaws operating in India. Most of the rickshaw pullers don’t own their rickshaws. They take them on rent for about 30 to 40 rupees a day. What they get after paying the rent is hardly enough to maintain their families. They continue at the bottom of the society. I wanted to create an organization that could empower the rickshaw pullers and find a way to increase their incomes. It would be a win-win situation for both. I believe in C.K. Prahlada’s idea that businesses can be successful by targeting the bottom of the pyramid. SammaaN was founded in 2007 with seed money from family and friends.
I: Can you describe the operation model of SammaaN?
When a rickshaw puller approaches SammaaN, a verification process is done. The rickshaw puller is then given training on basic etiquette and traffic rules. Then we help him to get a bank loan for a new rickshaw. In the past banks were reluctant to give loans to this section of people. Now they give because we stand as guarantors. The rickshaw pullers feel empowered because they are pulling their own rickshaws. We also give them accidental and health insurance. Each driver is given an ID card. He has to wear uniform while operating the vehicle. The rickshaw puller now becomes a member of the SammaaN family.
I: How does SammaaN help increase the revenues of the rickshaw pullers? How does SammaaN get its revenues?
SammaaN rickshaws are designed to have plenty of space to display advertisements. Several local and national brands advertise here. The income from advertisement is shared between the rickshaw pullers and the SammaaN. Rickshaw pullers can choose to sell water, fruit juice, pre-paid cards, mobile phones etc. They come to a central rickshaw yard in the morning and load up what they want. At the end of the day the profit is shared between them and SammaaN. The money they get from the passengers is theirs. The incomes of the rickshaw pullers have increased 30 to 40%.
There are other benefits also for which we cannot put any monetary value. Rickshaw pullers now have a sense of belonging and empowerment. Their wives and children attend free evening classes called Sammaan Gyaan. SammaaN has brought dignity to those previously known as menial labourers. SammaaN is profitable. Last fiscal year, it made a profit of 8 lakhs. My mentors emphasize the importance of sustainability.
I: Does SammaaN get directly involved in micro-financing?
No. We just enable the rickshaw pullers to get finance from the banks. Now they pay only the bank loan as instalment and eventually become the owners of the rickshaw.
I: Aren’t cycle rickshaws a dying breed?
Rickshaws are still popular in many parts of the country. In the last 2 to 3 years the number of rickshaws has actually increased in New Delhi by 20%. It is a popular transport to and from the metro stations. I think rickshaws are the vehicles of the future as they are environmental friendly. We have an R&D wing working on a solar- powered fibreglass rickshaw.
I: What were your experiences at the Presidential Entrepreneurship Summit at the USA?
IA: I met some truly great people. I talked to the Nobel Prize Winner Mohammed Yunus. He invited me to Bangladesh to help set up a similar organization for the rickshaw workers there.
I: What is your advice to students on.entrepreneurship? OBRI:
An entrepreneur is one who sees an opportunity and puts conscious efforts to make it an enterprise. People discourage youths from taking this path. It is time that we think of entrepreneurship as a career. It can tackle unemployment in the country. It is important to dream but one has to take calculated risks to achieve your dream.
I: Thank you very much. We wish you the very best foryour unique journey.
(Interview given to Sujata Ramprasad for India Cunents in May 2010, after participating in the Entrepreneurship Summit in Washington.)
About Irfan Alam : He is the founder and chairman of SammaaN Foundation. It is an Indian company which organizes rickshaw pulling sector in Bihar. Samman means respect. He is first to introduce pre-paid cycle.
Three-Wheeled Revolution (Interview) Summary in Malayalam