Dare to Care for Adolescent Girls Poor Status in India

Ahmedabad :  Fourteen year old, Sejal Baria was beaming with joy to share her story of grit. Baria, a 10th standard student travelled from remotest tribal village of Gujarat to talk about adolescent girls challenges which are affecting thousands of girls like her in their communities.

Baria and her young team, part of “Dare to Care”, a  UNICEF child rights projects, were successful in  rescuing three minor girls from getting married  at an early age in last three years in her village.

DareDevil IPL team member meeting with Dare to Care girls. Credit : Unicef India

DareDevil IPL team member meeting with Dare to Care girls.
Credit : Unicef India


 Baria said, “It is common  in our part of village to get the girls married before they attain the legal age of 18 years. They get married by 13-14 years. It was not an easy task to convince parents of minor girls to call off the marriage. We took help & support from the village heads to persuade families not to marry the minor girls. We got success eventually,”

Despite the progress in expanding the access of girls to education, health and social services, millions of adolescent girls still face difficult obstacles in their lives, experiencing various forms of discrimination, exploitation and abuse on account of their age and their sex in India. According to National Sample Survey office(NSSO) 2007-2008 report,  almost  40  percent  of adolescent girls in between 14 and 17 years  in India are not attending school. Also, District Level Household & Facility Survey  of year 2007-2008 reveals that around 40 per cent  girls in India marry before the legal age of 18 years.

Baria was among 11 adolescent girls who came from different parts of Gujarat to  share their “Dare to Care” UNICEF  initiative with  popular Delhi Daredevils team of Indian Premier League(IPL). As part of the UNICEF initiative, these girls have been trained on child rights issues. Thy have have been doing exemplary work at the village level to fight against social issues like child marriage, child labour, gender disparities, etc.

DareDevil IPL team greeting Dare to Care girls. Credit: Unicef India

DareDevil IPL team greeting Dare to Care girls.
Credit: Unicef India

This was one of the rare occasion when these girls met with national and international  cricketing icons in real life. They were excited and talking with foreign cricket players despite the language barrier.  

Gopi Boghil, 17 years from rural area from Bhavnagar, said, “Child labour is most rampant in our villages. The families prefer to send their kids to work in fields than in school as it adds  to their family income.Our team of 20 volunteers meet parents and convince them that if their children education is continued, they can earn much more than what they earn today.”

“However, poverty does push many children to leave their village and go to work in farms outside their village”  added she.  Bhogil dreams of becoming an air-hostess.

Moved by the stories of the girls, Jaydev Unadkat, Daredevil IPL players, looking sombre , said. “The confidence among these girls are commendable. They are doing amazing work in empowering other girls. It was a humbling experience to listen to them.”

“As a cricketer our responsibility lies in spreading their message, making people more aware and supportive of adolescent girls situations  in the country.”

The Delhi Daredevils team has been advocating for an overall protective environment for adolescent girls through the IPL platform and various other public forums.

Ross Taylor, New Zealand cricketer and part of Daredevil IPL team still reminisces about the infamous Delhi gangrape case. Taylor said, ” The shocking Delhi incident made headlines in New Zealand newspapers,”

After her interaction with the girls, Taylor said,” The language was a barrier but  girls were confident in asking questions on cricket. It was humbling experience interacting to them on various issues they face as a girl,”

The three key messages of this initiative are investing in girls education as  it is great investment in building her and her family future,  no child marriages as it affects their education, lower economic status, less livelihood opportunities, and they have little say in their home and to encourage girls to express and participate more. 

It is time we all  dare to  care to address grave issues affecting half  of the population in the country.  

Click here to read more on – Date to Care  

Official Hastag : #DaretoCare 

( Communicate Karo was invited by  UNICEF India  to meet Dare to Care girls & Dare Devil IPL team members interaction )



India Witnesses First Social Media Prime Minister in Narendra Modi

India got its first social media prime minister in Narendra Modi.  The three time chief minister of Gujarat will soon sworn as the 15th prime minister of India after his landslide victory trouncing the ruling United Progressive Alliance led by Congress. During the general election 2014, Narendra Modi became the second most-liked politician on Facebook behind only  Barack Obama, president of United States of America. Obama is also popularly called “first Social Media President of USA”.

Modi’s tweet proclaiming the victory of the Bharitya Janta Party(BJP) is testament to the fact that people are connecting with political leaders online.  The tweet  has become the most retweeted tweet from India in Twitter’s history. Till May 18, 2014, it has received 68,750  retweets and had been favourited 29,000 times.


Maximum RT and Favourited  tweet in India till now.  Pic: Twitter

Maximum RT and Favourited tweet in India till now.
Pic: Twitter

This was the first social media election for 1.2 billion strong India with the advent of Social Media giants in India, namely Facebook and Twitter, whose users run into million from urban areas to rural areas. Modi  from Bhartiya Janta Party gets the credit for first initiator on social media platforms when most of the politicians were busy ridiculing the emerging social media tools as “waste of time” and impersonal way to connect to masses. Even, Lalu Prasad Yadav, former chief minister of Bihar, known for his rustic behaviour fell for Twitter. He is now an active twitter user keeping intact his humour on the micro blogging site.  Earlier, he had criticized the use of social media.  In run up to the elections,  Facebook, the US based social media giant came up with  dedicated  Facebook ELECTION TRACKER to monitor political conversation on elections in India.

According to Facebook, “From the day elections were announced to the day polling ended, 29 million people conducted 227 million interactions (posts, comments, shares, and likes) regarding the elections on Facebook. In addition, 13 million people conducted 75 million interactions regarding  Narendra Modi.”

 Modi has 14.3 million fans — The Fastest-Growing Number on FACEBOOK  and  4,158,031 followers on TWITTER , the micro blogging site

In India,  814 million were eligible voters, and the interest in this year election was palpable — a record breaking 66% voter turn -out.In few of the parliamentary constituencies in Gujarat,  the voter turnout  crossed 70 %.  There is no denying to the fact that people, young & old are  turning to popular social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to talk  & engage on politics. In India, Facebook already had relatively high penetration in India, with 100 million active users.  According to published article in Quartz “On April 30—the day that 89 of India’s 543 constituencies went to the polls—696,000 election-related tweets were sentSince Jan1, the breakdown of tweets for the various national candidates/parties has been 34% for Narendra Modi or his Bharatiya Janata Party, 27% for Arvind Kejriwal or the Aam Admi Party, 4% for Rahul Gandhi or the Indian National Congress.”

The Facebook Election Tracker sums up the story well for elections in India- BJP and Narendra Modi tops the chart, while congress stood at last behind the newbie Aam Aadmi Party, on the last day of the elections.

BJP and Modi tops the chart, congress at the bottom.  Credit: India Tracker/Facebook India

BJP and Modi tops the chart, congress at the bottom.
Credit: India Tracker/Facebook India

The general elections 2014  reemphasized the fact that do not  underestimate the power of a tweet or a post in this globally wireless connected world! Modi landslide victory has proved all the social media critics wrong, especially his political opponents who we were more critical of his communication strategy of using social media extensively.

Social networking giant #Facebook said “29 million people in India have made 227 million interactions through posts, comments, shares, and likes about the elections from the day they were announced.

General Elections 2014 on Facebook  Credit : FacebookIndia

General Elections 2014 on Facebook
Credit : FacebookIndia

Rahul Gandhi, scion of Gandhi family and the face of Indian National Congress (INC) during general elections has no social media presence. Despite the fact that, he  is the young face of  Congress.

Today youth in India is social media mobile & savvy. They are tweeting, posting, sharing  from everything under the Sun.This time, youths were very much part of this elections and they participated in a big way.  They are vociferously demanding for a better future, jobs and amenities.During Modi’s victory speech in Vadodara, the parliamentary constituency from where Modi won by a margin of over 5 lakh votes, he gave due credit to role of social media in spreading the message  of ab ki baar Modi sarkaar far and wide”

Narendra Modi respecting the power of social media in his victory speech has stated that- “Due to social media, lies & false promises of several leaders could not go beyond the podiums of their rallies! More power to social media ,”

It is yet to be seen how social media euphoria translates into real work on ground level.  This will be watched closely by online & offline !

Global Media Reacts on NARENDRA MODI Landslide Win in Indian Elections

The media reaction to landslide victory of BJP in general elections 2014. Photo  : Siddhanth Suchit

The media reaction to landslide victory of BJP in general elections 2014.
Photo :Reuters

A  Quick analysis of front page headlines from popular newspaper/TV in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, USA & UK’s on verdict given by 1.2 billion strong India. It is interesting to read the tone & tenor in these headlines! The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the main opposition party in India had a landslide victory winning 285 seats out of 543 parliamentary constituencies. The BJP lead National Democratic Alliance won 340 seats. BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi will be next prime minister of India.


BJP Aaandhi Flattens Clan Gandhi- Times of India 

India Places its Faith in Moditva- Times of India

Hunkaar Tally- Hindustan Times 

MODI- Indian Express 

India is Modi. Modi is India- Economic Times

MODI’S Moment – MINT 

Prime Minister Modi – The Hindu


BJP knocks out Congres- The Dawn

Modi wave sweeps India- The Nation 

Modi storms to historic win in Indian elections-Pakistan Observer


Modi wins landslide victory: The Daily Star,Bangladesh

Landslide win for Modi, BJP- Dhaka Tribune,Bangladesh 

Modi crushes the fort of Congress- The Bangladesh Today


Congress Party Concedes Defeat as India Backs Modi-The

New York Times 

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi heads to victory in Indian

election- Washington Post 

Narenda Modi Is India’s Next Leader-The Wire 

Hindu nationalist Narendra Modi claims victory as India’s

next Prime Minister- CNN

India’s Narendra Modi leads conservatives to election day

victory- Chicago Day Tribune 

India’s pro-business Modi storms to historic election win- Reuters 

Landslide win for Indian opposition party- USA Today


Congress admits India poll defeat- BBC

Modi wins landslide victory in Indian election- The Daily Star/Reuters

Narendra Modi wins India election with landslide victory- The Telegraph 

Narendra Modi’s landslide victory shatters Congress’s grip on India – The


Can Modi Do a Barack Obama in General Elections 2014 ?

Social media in India is an evolving trend, and this general elections result might start a new discourse for elections to come. However, it will be interesting to wait and watch, whether the popular online sentiments, and the millions likes, thousands of share and million tweets can translates into REAL VOTES .

A comparative analysis of USA President Barack Obama and BJP Prime Minister candidate, Narendra Modi in General Elections 2014


Ahmedabad celebrates 4th anniversary of Janmarg BRTS

The daily commute of twenty-nine-year-old Ranjit Rao, a professional working for a multinational company based in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, has changed for good. Rao is part of new breed of city commuters who has ditched his private vehicle to use the new form of public transport: Janmarg Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in Ahmedabad. According to him, it is more economical and comfortable to travel in by BRTS than vehicle. There is no worry of traffic jams and the system is easily accessible. He travels daily from his home in Maninagar, located in the central part of Ahmedabad, to Iskon circle in the Western part. He saves 15-20 minutes on his commute time, a few hundred rupees on fuel, and takes great pride that he is not part of the traffic anymore.

Ahmedabad BRTS celebrates 4th anniversary of Janmarg, synonymous with Ahmedabad, celebrated its fourth anniversary on October 14. In 2009, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation, under its special purpose vehicle Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited (AJL) had launched the BRTS in dedicated corridors in middle of the road as an earnest effort to bring sanity back to roads.

Janmarg: Moving People, Not Moving Vehicles

For all those who complain of the futility of BRTS corridor, here is an interesting fact, revealed by Ahmedabad Janmarg Limited: “Janmarg moved 180 people by just occupying 90 square metres of road space while in the mixed traffic lane on the Janmarg corridor, and 168 people were moved by occupying 550 square metre of road space.” This is very much in line with The National Urban Transport Policy of Ministry of Urban Development which focuses on “Moving People, not Vehicles”. On an average 116,000 passengers travels on BRTS for work (53 per cent), Education (19 per cent ) and Social and Recreation (27 per cent). According to an AJL study for the month of March, 2013, 26 percent of two wheelers have shifted to BRTS. However, the number of car users shifting to BRTS remains around one to two percent. No doubt, driven by the need for an alternative mode of transportation, people are buying vehicles, adding to traffic snarls and pollution. In Ahmedabad alone, the number of vehicles has climbed up to 2.2 million. An estimate suggests that 600 vehicles are getting added daily on city roads in Ahmedabad. So, the pressure on existing road networks increases and insures demand for parking in the city.

Complaints & Suggestions for Ahmedabad BRTS

Overcrowding in BRTS Buses
The BRTS in Ahmedabad needs to keep the standard high for the confidence of regular users and to attract future commuters. The basic issues like BRTS bus drivers’ rash driving and their involvement in traffic accidents has reached alarming proportion. The increasing number of thefts on the buses is also a matter of concern, as is crowd management at popular BRTS bus stops.

Commuters’ suggestions for improving BRT services ranges from discount rates for students, senior citizens, and women to introducing a monthly pass system. Other suggestions include limits on the number of passengers travelling in a BRTS bus, and better traffic control mechanisms for BRTS buses, especially near traffic cross junctions.

Making BRTS Bus Stops More Pedestrian and Cycle Accessible

Sixty-five percent of BRTS users in Ahmedabad are walking to BRTS bus stops despite the poor pedestrian facilities in the city. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation authorities need to take pedestrian concerns as a top priority to address the growing chaos on city streets. BRTS bus stops should be integrated with better and safer walkways, and cycle corridors to gain more regular bus commuters.

Innovation and Information is Key for the Growth of Ahmedabad BRTS

In the last four years of its operation, the system has received national and international awards for bringing a paradigm shift in the way city moves. BRTS is a great departure from rickety buses running on the roads where passengers can barely hold on, struggling to board or alight from the bus, fighting their way out to reach to bus conductors for tickets, along with the spewing toxic smoke.

But for BRTS to reach the next level and attract car users, BRTS requires a constant innovation in its services and an extensive outreach plan with consistent improvement in infrastructure for pedestrians & cyclists. Social Media needs to be leveraged well by introducing unique campaigns to attract youths to use BRTS. The BRTS authorities have to work on a holistic approach to make the system more popular and acceptable.

Modi woos twitter celebrities to encourage youth for voter registration

Narendra Modi, one of the most popular politician on social media platforms in India has latched on to Twitter & the power of film celebrities, Indian cricketing legends and spiritual heads, to woo & encourage first-time voters to register for voting rights for upcoming general elections 2014. The elections will be litmus test for Modi to prove his popularity can convert into  votes to reach to the magical figure of 272 to form the government at the Centre.

According to Mint- “The first-time voters, estimated from the Census data stacks up to 149.36 million—the Election Commission estimates the total number of voters to be 725 million.”

 Modi in his first tweet mentioned “studies point to several ‘eligible’ voters who are yet unregistered. Are you one of them? Now is the time to get registered ASAP ! and followed by  this tweet ” I request prominent voices on social media to promote voter registration among youngsters & strengthen our democracy.Modi

Later, Modi  in his flurry of tweets mentioned twitter handle of prominent celebrities from Bollywood, like Amitabh Bachchan(6.30million),  Shah Rukh Khan(4.98million), Amir Khan(4.66 million), Salman Khan(4.88 million), Hrithik Roshan(4.08million), Deepika Padukone(4.18million),  cricketing legend, Sachin Tendular(3.66million), and spiritual head his Holiness Dalai Lama (7.71million) among others  and wrote  “lets encourage voter registration among 18-24 yr olds. Large number of them are unregistered. EC drive presently underway.”


Modi has 2.34 million followers till now on Twitter. Recentky, Bharatiya Janta Party(BJP), the main opposition party in India anointed Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi as prime ministerial face for upcoming  election.

Interestingly, he in his tweet mentioned his bete-o-noire Prime Minister Manmohan Singh official PMO twitter handle to encourage young voters to participate in due Parliamentary election. Also, Shashi Tharroor (1.90million), Minister of State for Human Resource Development and one the most vocal critic of Modi on social media platforms was mentioned by Modi to woo youths for voter registration. It would be interesting to see whether,Modi’s MT  gets RTs by the likes of PMO and Shashi Tharror !


In the recent months, youths & their issues are focal point & recurring theme  of all Modi’s political speeches since his elevation as BJP Election Campaign Committee Chief. Recently during Rewari rally largely of ex-servicemen, Modi made an emotive appeal to  young audience to get themselves registered for voting rights and also encourage other in family, friends and relatives to do it. 

According to recently released report, published on Mint- “Show that the overwhelming demography of India is young. “The population of the country below 35 years of age is 51.8%. Of this 48.2% are women and 51.8% are men, 30.1% reside in urban areas and 69.9% is based in rural India. Significantly, the Census numbers estimate the population in the critical demography category of 18-35 years of age to be 31.3%%. Not only does this demography dominate spending in the rapidly growing consumer economy, it is also likely to be critical in the context of the general election due by May 2014.”

Politics & social media are getting entwined every other day. But , whether twitter RTs, and  MTs,  can translate into VOTE is the moot question !

Links for voter registration in India only :  Election Commission of India (http://eci.nic.in/eci_main1/index.aspx)

Gandhinagar mayor gets FB likes from Turkey

TOI,AHMEDABAD: For the record, it’s not only Congress biggies like Ajay Maken and Digvijaya Singh who enjoy a strong ‘fan following’ in Turkey. Gandhinagar mayor Mahendrasinh Rana, who recently shifted loyalties to the BJP, also has a huge fan base in Istanbul with more than 50,000 ‘likes’ on his Facebook page from Turkey’s capital city. But one may ask, how come the Gandhinagar mayor has a fan base in that city larger than Istanbul mayor Kadir Topbas’ who has just 411 likes and six people talking about his Facebook page?

Rana started his Facebook account, ‘Mayor of Gandhinagar Mahendrasinh Rana’, in June this year and has already garnered 50,274 likes with 10,235 people talking about it. Almost 90% of Rana’s ‘likes’ were garnered in the early weeks of July, after which they declined in August. Rana also maintains another page on Facebook which is believed to be his personal page. Mahendrasinh Rana could not be contacted on phone for his comments, despite several attempts.

Last month, 34% of Maken’s 99,154 likes were from Istanbul and 24 per cent from Russia. In the case of Digvijay Singh, out of 4,636 likes garnered by his Facebook page last month, nearly 53.7% were acquired from Istanbul.

“There are many websites where one can buy ‘likes’ on Facebook and ‘followers’ on Twitter. These firms are called ‘third parties’ in social media terminology, who open email accounts in huge numbers and use them to create Facebook and Twitter accounts. Every like on FB page costs a little less than Rs 4,” said Parthesh Patel, who handles some pages of Gujarat Congress.

PS: The Article sourced from Times of India, Ahmedabad written by Paul John (http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/ahmedabad/Gandhinagar-mayor-gets-FB-likes-from-Turkey/articleshow/22176897.cms)

Start Young on BRTS Social Media Promotion

India is a young nation. More than half of its 1.2 billion people are under the age of 25, and two-thirds are below 35. According to an estimate, 85 percent of young India is connected through social networking sites like Facebook or Twitter. Therein lies an enormous opportunity for public transit authorities to reach out and get connected to this large, young audience through social media. High quality transport facilities are not enough – cities must effectively communicate about these systems to inform, attract, and encourage users.

iBus, the newly launched Bus Rapid Transit System (BRT) in Indore, Madhya Pradesh, has pioneered a new beginning in the promotion of public transport in India through social networking with Facebook. The iBus system is operated by Atal Indore City Transport Services Ltd (AICTSL), a Special Purpose Vehicle to operate and manage public transport services in the city of Indore.

The official Facebook page regularly posts news updates, maps of routes, fare collection information, photos of BRT passengers, and also replies to queries posted by followers. The administrator of iBus page encourages users to submit suggestions, ideas, complaints, and appreciation for the system.

ImageThis is a progressive and welcome development to popularize and promote public transport systems. Unfortunately, branding and marketing of public transport projects have been a low priority for Public Transport Authorities in India despite the immense value in creating a sense of ownership among bus users.

The next step would be having regular bus updates, detour information, promotional events, exciting contests, hangouts with officials, celebrity chats, and other online activities to keep the bus passengers and new audience engaged and informed.

MyBus utilizes social media and clear branding

MyBus BRTS, operated by Bhopal City Link Limited, started its trial run of BRT in June, 2013. It also has registered its social media presence by creating a dedicated Facebook page with its brand name MyBus. The Facebook page has regular updates on trial runs, seminars and conferences on BRT, awareness videos on BRT, and trial run photo essay.

However, it is still in its nascent stage. The page needs regular content which is informative, engaging, and empowering for the users. MyBus daily announcements on bus timings, routes, and other user-friendly information can be shared through its social media platforms. The content should be visually alluring making it easy to understand for others.

Popular BRTS Systems In Gujarat Have No Official Social Media Presence

The successful Janmarg (In English, “Peoples’ Way”), the BRT in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, which has won national and international accolade, has no official presence on social networking sites like Facebook and twitter.

Janmarg was launched in October, 2009, by Gujarat’s chief minister, Narendra Modi, but even after four years of Janmarg operation in Ahmedabad there is no dedicated Facebook Page and Twitter handle.

Though there is no official Janmarg Facebook page, an unofficial group handled by Raja Nageswaran, a BRT enthusiast from Ahmedabad, boasts more than 2,000 members. However, the group is not active as it used to be in the past. Nageswaran is hopeful and “willing to share administrative rights if the Ahmedabad BRT accepts the group and makes it an official one.”

Janmarg authorities needs to invest time and energy to come up with a robust official BRTS page for its users. This will immensely help in gathering user feedback on the existing system, and also help in maintaining the positive image of the BRTS. Janmarg’s official debut on social media platforms will only add to its popularity and wider outreach among young users.

The Way Ahead for BRT in India 

Social media is the fastest growing medium of mass communication in India and is considered reliable, as some say in India: “twitter is faster than earthquakes”. Public transport authorities like many other corporate brands should start utilizing this new medium to promote transportation systems like BRT, which is fast, efficient and reliable.

The power of social media is immense and it can create a healthy two-way communication between public transport authorities and public transit users. However, this approach requires a committed effort and consistency in sharing the information and updates on social media platforms, mostly on bus timing, change of routes, or any major construction work on the route.

Global examples like Rea Vaya Bus transit, a BRT system in Johannesburg, uses Facebook and Twitter extensively to promote closer relationships and information sharing with daily bus passengers. In India, Jaipur Traffic Police are making the best use of social media platforms like Facebook to keep the citizens updated on traffic situations in the city. Most of the information shared is on real time basis.

The costs involved to manage social media platforms are miniscule as compared to expensive traditional media, such as print, TV, or large billboards.

Government agencies in India, especially cities with upcoming and running BRT systems should start investing their time and energy to popularize BRT initiatives through well-planned social media strategy to attract the urban and upwardly mobile city dwellers in addition to providing a world class BRT infrastructure.

*Originally this post was published on July 14th on the Sustainable Cities Collective.

* The post also got published on The City Fix 

Park it as Hungarians do !


Author : Kumar Manish

Hungary’s capital Budapest has turned tide of parking menace by initiating and enforcing a lot of parking reforms in last few years to improve the quality of urban life. In the main city area, one is amazed to see streets completely free of parked cars, which provide ample and comfortable space for pedestrians and cyclists to move around. Few years ago, Budapest was exploding with increasing number of cars and insatiable demand for free parking space on the streets. Private vehicles were filling up every available space in the city and also reaching up to its boundaries. More or less, a situation same like in present Ahmedabad. 

The effects of easily and freely available parking facilities in Budapest were traffic chaos, unhealthy environment, and unsafe streets to walk or cycle on and growing use and dependence on private vehicles. Sensing the impending trouble for sustainable growth of Budapest, city authorities brought a paradigm shift by introducing a progressive parking policy and enforcement mechanism to put it in practice. This change towards parking was also a result of an impending penalty from European Union (EU) on rising air pollution levels in Budapest, which was “linked primarily to growing vehicular traffic”. It is a mandatory requirement in the EU that in the cities of its member states, air pollution levels cannot reach a certain limit.

The city started its parking reforms by creating a separate parking management authority, an SPV dedicated to address parking. The city put more than 90,000 parking lots under its control and created its payment zone system by dividing cities into different zones. Each zone of the city, starting from the core area, has different parking fee slabs and hours for which one can park their vehicles in the respective zone. None of the zones allow more than three to four hours of parking at a stretch. Also, parking fee in core city area is much higher than in outer zones. The revenue generated from parking fee is reinvested in the city. One of the best examples is that Budapest uses its parking revenue surplus in procuring new buses which read out ‘Thank you for paying your parking fee’ assuring citizens of the proper utilization of parking fees and garnering better support for it.

Budapest, in addition to introducing parking charges, has also improved city connectivity by public transportation system (trams, metro and public buses). The city also invested in well-designed pedestrian and cycle ways, making city more accessible and safe for the commuters. Parking requirements in commercial areas are tied with availability of public transport facilities. Corvin Shopping Centre with its historical Corvin Cinema in Budapest is a unique development project, which has reduced total amount of parking space by half as required because public transport connections offer excellent accessibility. The Centre has revitalised the area and now a popular meeting point. The city also introduced lot of pedestrian-friendly streets and restricted entry of cars in heavily pedestrian-ised areas in many parts of the city.

Caught up in traffic jam

Caught up in traffic jam

Ahmedabad and Budapest are very similar. Both are spread in about 500 sq km area, divided in two parts by a river and have a core city area. The existing parking scenario in Ahmedabad is no different with more than 600 vehicles added to the streets daily, putting pressure to create more parking spaces or convert public space into the former. Almost free or negligible charges and unregulated parking spaces have fueled traffic congestion, pushed pedestrians on the brink and have boosted usage of private vehicles. Poor public transport is also to blame for this growing mess on the roads.

Three-year-old BRTS in Ahmedabad is a ray of hope to bring back the faith of people on buses. Ahmedabad can take a leaf out of parking reforms introduced in Budapest to suit its parking needs. Chennai already has put forward a proposal to establish a parking management authority on lines of Budapest. Regulated parking can be used as tool to improve quality of urban life and also for discouraging usage of private vehicles. 

Budapest-based Zoltan Gyarmati, an expert in parking issues emphasises that it is of utmost importance that rights and ownership of parking management is with the city government. He is also of the opinion that the city should introduce widest variety of payment methods to improve willingness to pay by cash, credit cards, RFID/city-cards and cellphones. Ahmedabad has recently prepared a parking policy but its fate is still not clear. 

*The column originally got published in DNA, a national English daily published from India,