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Rickshaw Pullers and the Cycle of Unsustainability in Dhaka City

M. Maksudur Rahman and Md. Assadekjaman

Rickshaw pullers are key to sustaining urban mobility in Dhaka city. Yet they are among the most marginalized members of society. Pullers live in precarious urban environments and struggle to rise out of a chronic poverty trap. In their work they face the daily challenges of restrictions on their activities, harassment from passengers and the traffic police, traffic jams and accidents. This article explores the factors which contribute to the unsustainable lifestyles of rickshaw pullers in Dhaka city. It suggests that rickshaw pullers might be supported better through licenses, economic incentives, and by prioritizing their contribution to improving Dhaka's traffic system.

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Mobility in the Margins

Hand-pulled Rickshaws in Kolkata

Gopa Samanta and Sumita Roy

This article examines the marginal mobilities of hand-pulled rickshaws and rickshaw-pullers in Kolkata, India. It traces the politics of rickshaw mobilities, showing how debates about modernity and the informal economy frequently overshadow the experience of the marginalized community of hand-rickshaw pullers. It shows how the hand-pulled rickshaw rarely becomes the focus of research or debate because of its marginal status—technologically (being more primitive than the cycle rickshaw); geographically (operating only in Kolkata city); and in terms of the social status of the operators (the majority being Bihari migrants in Kolkata). Drawing upon both quantitative and qualitative research, this study focuses on the backgrounds of the rickshaw-pullers, their strategies for earning livelihoods, the role of social networks in their life and work, and their perceptions of the profession—including their views of the state government's policy of seeking to abolish hand-pulled rickshaws. The article concludes by addressing the question of subalternity.

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A Journey with Cycle Rickshaws

Identity, Respect, Equality, Space, and Sustainable Futures

Rajendra Ravi

I met a cycle rickshaw puller whom I had known for a few years and asked my old question, “Why do you not look for a better job instead of pulling a cycle rickshaw?” He asked me if I was free to have a chat with him in a nearby park.1 After settling down he said, “You have been asking the same question for many years, but you never asked us a question which mattered to us the most. Th e questions that you raised refl ected a limited perspective and did not provide us a scope to place our perspective. I would like to explain this to you.”

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Echoes of Colonial Logic in Re-Ordering “Public” Streets

From Colonial Rangoon to Postcolonial Yangon

Beth E. Notar, Kyaw San Min, and Raju Gautam

This article investigates three historical moments in Rangoon, Burma (Yangon, Myanmar) when the city has restricted certain forms of mobility. The first occurred in 1920, when British authorities restricted rickshaws pulled by Indian laborers. The second was in 1960, when the military “caretaker government” sought to sideline pedicabs and horse carts as part of an urban “cleanup” campaign. The third happened in 2017, when city authorities under a new democratic government sought to limit the number of taxis and allow digital ride-hailing services such as Uber and Grab to operate in the city. Despite three very different forms of government, the later discourses eerily echo the exclusionary logic that certain forms of migrant driven mobility need to be cleared away for more “modern” mobility.

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Editorial

Gijs Mom and Nanny Kim

How topsy-turvy can the world of mobility become? Th e London cab has recently been revived by a Chinese automotive group,1 General Motors had to be rescued by the American taxpayer, and BMW is converting its cars to electricity. In Delhi, after a rape and murder of a woman in a bus, rickshaw pullers introduced “safe for women” rickshaws.2 In Brazil riots against corruption and poverty started in a bus, out of outrage at increased ticket prices.3 In Rio de Janeiro there are three bus accidents per day, in part caused by drivers racing against each other.4 How can we understand the plethora of confusing messages from a world of mobility that seems to spin out of control, more so with every new decade? New Mobility Studies tries to make sense of this turbulence and as editors of Transfers we seek fresh approaches that are not afraid of transgressing boundaries. Th is issue, in which we present scholarship beyond the immediate reach of Western mainstream mobility studies, is an example of such boundary crossing.

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Aspiration and Desperation Traps in Trajectories of Physical and Social Mobility-Immobility

Young Female Migrants in the City

Ellen Bal, Hosna J. Shewly, and Runa Laila

them to migrate to the city. Shohana, Bulbuli, and Sufia engaged in wage labor to supplement the income of their families. Shohana was thirty-two years old when the third author met her in 2017. Her father had been a landless farmer and a rickshaw

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Caste, Environment Justice, and Intersectionality of Dalit–Black Ecologies

Mukul Sharma

cycle-rickshaw pullers; domestic workers dance to the whims of masters, for whom they represent nothing but hands that perform invisible services; Dalit children are employed in dangerous metal factories; factory workers are locked in during the night