Delhi drivers get lessons in manners

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The Independent Online

As all visitors to India's capital discover, despite Delhi's rickshaws and the traditional black and yellow taxis offering an economical ride, there can also be plenty of drawbacks.

Cleanliness of both vehicle and driver are often uncertain, safety often comes with a question mark and at the end of their journey passengers may often conclude they've been well and truly ripped off.

Now, in an effort to boost the image of the "taxiwallahs" and to improve the service they offer, drivers are to receive lessons in road safety, basic English and common courtesy. What's more, they're going to get paid to take them.

The lessons are part of a scheme that has been drawn up by the India Tourism Development Corporation in conjunction with the government before next year's Commonwealth Games. India's tourism industry draws 3.3 million foreign visitors a year, but the games are expected to bring tens of thousands of new visitors and officials are determined that they leave with a positive image of the country.

As part of that effort, the rickshaw drivers – whose meters almost always appear to be "out of order" – are to be encouraged to treat foreign passengers honestly, rather than as a quick financial hit. "A proposal has been put up where drivers will be paid 200 rupees a day (around £3 ) for participating in the training programme," one official told the Times of India. "But since the training is a voluntary scheme it is yet to be seen how many drivers will participate in it."