French man turns rickshaw puller for research

January 11th, 2009 - 1:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Patna, Jan 11 (IANS) A French man is pedalling a rickshaw in Bihar these days to understand the real problems of rickshaw pullers in India.John Lui, in his early 40s, says: “I am trying to discover the real life of a rickshaw puller.”

Wearing a colourful dress, Lui, a technical designer, pedalled a newly decorated cycle rickshaw for over three hours in Sasaram town of western Bihar, 148 km from state capital Patna.

Then Lui told IANS over phone: “I have been gathering my experience as rickshaw puller to strengthen research on their lives. I have mixed with many of them, spent hours among them and shared their pain and exploitation. It is a unique learning experience so far on polluted dusty roads.”

After completing his research, Lui plans to help rickshaw pullers by raising funds to launch some innovative scheme that will make life easier for them. “I have experienced that a rickshaw puller’s life is tough, without social and emotional security. I will do something for them,” he said.

He recalled that he started pedalling rickshaws in Bangladesh last year to gather experience as a rickshaw puller. “It all started in Bangladesh nearly two months ago and now I am doing it in India.”

Lui had visited India before but said his current visit was more meaningful. “I had visited India before as a tourist but it is a different visit to know and help others.”

From Bangladesh, Lui travelled to Kolkata, then to Jharkhand where he pedalled a rickshaw, before moving to Bihar.

“I will also visit Varanasi, Agra, Delhi, Rajasthan and Mumbai to live as a rickshaw puller,” Lui said. “I will pull a rickshaw at all these places to gather more information related to my research.”

Asked what prompted him to start on this line of research, Lui said he had read a lot on the lives of rickshaw pullers and during his previous visit to India seen the misery in which they lived. “I decided to research the lives of rickshaw pullers out of curiosity to know more about them and to help them.”

He lauded the presence of hundreds of non-polluting rickshaws across India. “The rickshaws are non-polluting but those plying are victims of pollution on roads and streets created by motorised vehicles,” he said.

(Imran Khan can be contacted at

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