Auto's in Davos

When our dear friends in Switzerland sent us this photo with the cryptic note that said it all, I decided to check it out. Some time back I had written about Indian Autorickshaws in the UK. Well they were recently to Davos, where the World Economic forum is held every year, an occasion where the big wigs of politics and business meet to discuss all kinds of things. Don’t ask me more, I don’t know, nor have I been to such lofty meetings.

Our friend said - It was fun to see our good old autos ....(albeit) freezing in the snow.

So what was it all about? Dipankar Sarkar explains - Not that anyone is complaining. From the moment you enter Zurich - the international airport nearest to Davos - India is ever-present on the horizon. A large advertisement, written entirely in Hindi, greets the visitors at Zurich airport reminding them it is perhaps time to learn Hindi. The advertiser is Swissair. Standing along the snowy main street of Davos, the Promenade, are two black-and-yellow three-wheeler auto-rickshaws. They are there for the show, of course - you can't take a ride on it. Familiar to all Indians, they brighten up a cafe.

Dinesh Khanna adds – to explain how Rahul Bajaj himself went on to discover the two Bajaj Auto Rickshaws that made it from India to the snow of Switzerland. The three wheelers were placed on the corner of Promenade and Platzstrasse, one of the busiest corners of Davos Platz, as an important element of an art installation associated to Incredible India.

But Arab news tells a different story - A little investigation by their diarist S Wahab revealed that late last year, a Bollywood team came to Davos to shoot a particular scene involving the two mini-transports. Davosians, it seems, were fascinated by the little machines, and so they requested that the director (whose name and film are now lost in the mysteries of history) sell the conveyances to them. Instead, the director decided to give them to a hotel owner who in turn parked them outside his hotel as an attraction.

Sauvik Chakraborthy wrote the following in Indian express in 1998, for an article titled ‘One for the roads’ - Rahul Bajaj is speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos this year(1998). It is hoped he will understand that the era of crony capitalism is over, and that the world is knocking at our door. His autorickshaw must go the way of the dodo. Well, it is 2008 and Sauvik, the Auto is at Davos.

While on the subject, why don’t you take a look at this nice blog by ‘Life in two hours’. It is titled A honk could mean anything.

And, did you know that the Tata Nano is cheaper than a Bajaj Auto (Rs1.5 lakhs)? Bombay’s Auto drivers may even decide to move over to the Nano for safety reasons, according to a recent report.

Those desirous of buying an auto (US version, Ferrari red) in the USA may check this site out. It is priced upwards of $6500 each. A Bajaj scooter could cost around $3500.


narendra shenoy said…
Bajaj and company basically ripped off the nation by selling the shoddiest products to the great unwashed for five decades. Their scooters never start unless they are keeled over once to drain excess gasoline from the carburettor. This is a technical problem they never felt like rectifying for 50 years. There's even a joke about it.

A rocket is being launched at Cape Canaveral. Even after numerous countdowns, it refuses to fire. The engineers check everything but are flummoxed. Then one Indian hesitantly steps out of the spectator section and offers to help. Frustrated, the bosses agree to let him have a try.
He asks for a crane, and to everyone's horror, keels the rocket over. Lets it lie horizontal for a minute and then rights it up. He asks the guys to try now. And Lo! The rocket fires!
The flabbergasted scientists beg him for an explanation. He tells them that he hasn't a clue, but this is how Bajaj scooters function back home.
I guess Rahul Bajaj is not going to marry his daughter off to me, after this little diatribe.
Anonymous said…
i fully agree with narendra's comments. they are the loudest, smoke belching beasts which deserve space only in museums. My flat in Malleswaram, Bangalore faces a 0.001degree inclined road, and you should hear the autos 'mukki'fying to climb such a slope. We promptly close our front door before the racket starts at about 7am.
Pradeep said…
I always wondered why no innovation has taken place for the autorickshaw. Coming to think of it, it is such a useful threewheeler, whose manoeuvrability hasn't been fully leveraged. For eg: it can be a very good public transport for short hauls... and in big cities economical transportation over short distances is often what's lacking.
Maddy said…
wow! And I thought people found them convenient. I sure do, as a visitor to india, to get from point A to B in Kerala and Bangalore..But i can understand how you feel having to put up with the side and after effects!!

Now before you bludgeon bajaj take a look at this. They are involved in a major project with the US government with clean technology implementation in auots.