Ganesh Somwanshi, project director for Wings Rainbow says one transgender or a gay person driving the cab in Mumbai has the capability to inspire other transgender begging on the streets. Consequently, they would like to be part of the change.
The LGBT community is badly sidelined despite the fact that they are legally recognised by India.
It took Ganesh around two months to get everyone on board. Post research, they had to identify gays, lesbians and transgender who were willing to be part of the project. They were a little apprehensive as they were afraid customers would use their cab service or take them seriously.
Pallav Patankar, director of programmes at Humsafar said, "Post NALSA judgment, LGBTs were constitutionally given all the rights, but we had to find out ways to implement this on a grassroots level."
He has been working for around 20 years promoting the rights of the LGBT community and empowerment of community through computer literacy classes, vocational training, and convincing corporations to invest in jobs for the LGBT.
"They have a right to work and live like everyone else. We need to build their capability and at the same time sensitise the general public towards accepting them in such roles", said Patankar.
Wings Travel and Humsafar Trust, a Mumbai-based NGO that promotes the rights of India's gay community, launched the pilot phase of the Wings Rainbow initiative by registering Chauhan and four others.
These five members of LGBT community will initially apply for a learner’s licence. In next 9 to 12 months which is the time taken to get a permanent driving license, they will be imparted training on customer etiquette.
Arun Kharat, founder-director of Wings Travels and Management said, “We want them to eventually become entrepreneurs and become owners of these vehicles. We wish to ensure that the LGBT community in India enjoys the same rights and income opportunities in India as their counterparts in western countries.”
According to Mr Kharat, Wings Travels operates roughly 5,500 radio taxis in nine cities. These cities include Pune, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Chandigarh, Nagpur and Ahmedabad.
Kharat hopes to enrol 1,500 people from LGBT community across all nine cities.