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Photographer's Note

Among the great cities of the world, Kolkata, the capital of West Bengal and the home of nearly 15 million people, is often mentioned as the only one that still has a large fleet of hand-pulled rickshaws.

Hand-pulled rickshaws made their appearance in this former British capital over a century ago, and several thousand continue to ply the streets today.

Rickshaws are not there to haul around tourists; their steadiest customers are schoolchildren and local people who tend to travel short distances, through lanes that are sometimes inaccessible to even the most daring taxi driver. They also used to deliver all sorts of things to hotels, shops, and homes around the city.

From June to September Kolkata gets torrential rains and entire neighborhoods can’t be reached by motorized vehicles, so the normal customer base for rickshaw wallahs expands greatly, as does the price of a journey.

Government and local authorities are menacing to ban rickshaws for years, because they are relic of colonialism and for humanitarian considerations, refusing to see human beings carrying other humans, but at the same time, they question themselves whether they have the right to take away their livelihood.

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Additional Photos by Andre Roberge (InasiaJones) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1426 W: 152 N: 6229] (31444)
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