• the-south-asian.com                                               JUNE  2002




June  2002 Contents



 Mt. Everest - beginning of 50th
 year celebrations

 Sherpas - the Real Men who
 bring glory to others

 Everest Facts

 K2 - an account of a winter



 Super Achievers & Success
 Marshal of the Air Force
 Arjan Singh

 Shovana Narayan, Sidhartha
 Basu & Anjolie Ela Menon

 KPS Gill & Dr. Trehan


 Indra Varma - Polymers


 Sahir Raza - capturing Gujarat



 Jeev Milkha Singh

 Baba Saheb - the grand old
 man of kite-flying


 Raja Bundela's 'Pratha'


 The reincarnated Rickshaw


 'Ananda' spa in Garhwal


 Indu Gupta's new dimension
 to Tanjore paintings


 'Knock at Every Alien Door'
 - Serialization of an
 unpublished novel by
 Joseph Harris - Chapter 6



the craft shop

the print gallery


Silk Road on Wheels

The Road to Freedom

Enduring Spirit

Parsis-Zoroastrians of

The Moonlight Garden

Contemporary Art in Bangladesh





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Nutan Sehgal

rickshaw1.jpg (187002 bytes)

Ultra Lightweight

Unlike bicycle technology, which advanced dramatically in the last decade through the introduction of ultra-lightweight materials, cycle rickshaws have not changed since the 1940s, when ordinary bicycles were welded and bolted to heavy steel and wood chassis-seat configurations.

Pullers of rickshaws toiled in the hot sun for hours to eke out a meagre living and were exposed to intense pollution and dangerous traffic. As a result the mortality rate among pullers has been alarmingly high.

Of the six new models designed so far, two have been put on road --- Rani Ki Palki and Raja Ki Baggi. The remaining prototypes will be introduced in the coming months.

Martignoni quotes research when he says that the bicycle is the most efficient mode of transportation in the world and is at least five times more efficient than any animate or artificial system as it is both pollution-free and highly cost-effective.

"It is unfortunate that several civic authorities are banning the movement of rickshaws in crowded localities in which they prove to be most efficient," says he.

The new rickshaws are being produced in Agra on a very small scale. But very soon the collaborators will be scouting for manufacturers across the country for mass production of these new models, which will further bring down the prices.

The collaborators are also eyeing the export market. Cycle rickshaws; now operating in more than 40 American cities cost over $2000. The manufacturers plan to offer the new vehicles in the US and European market for around $300.

Rickshaw modernisation process is also currently being done in Bangladesh, Indonesia and South Africa. The World Bank is also funding an on-going project in Dhaka, which has more than 750,000 cycle rickshaws.

These high quality vehicles have a use expectancy of almost ten years and the low complexity rate makes them an ideal example of appropriate and relevant technology.

Cycle rickshaws may be slow but they are safe and pollution-free. The designers say that their potential is limitless and are hoping that the new design might bring about a renaissance of a mode of transportation that was almost going extinct.



rickshaw1.jpg (187002 bytes)

  •  Lighter, 55kg. compared to 98kg. standard rickshaw.

  • Overall design utilizes tricycle geometry not modified bicycle geometry. Steeper, curved front frame fork, for example, tightens turn ratio for better maneuverability.

  • Mountain bike handles replace standard parallel handles which compress driver lung space and strain wrists; shorter reach than British design [built for English cyclists who are taller than average Indian driver].

  •  Increase from one to three gears reduceds pedaling effort by 17 percent, enhancing performance and resulting in less fatigue for the "puller"; low-cost [US $9 or Rs. 400] gear system can be retrofitted on traditional rickshaws.

  • Adjustable saddle more ergonomically correct. Compliments improved frame; lower saddle provides smoother braking.

  •  Integral tubular structure replaces old design, which is essentially a bike bolted to a cart.

  • Longer, lower chassis reduces center of gravity, adds stability.

  • New storage space under seat.

  • Rear wheel axle aligned with chassis, less friction and wear.

  •  Reflectors for nighttime safety.

  • Armrests and seat back increase comfort and safety; easy access with lower footboard.

  •  Seat widened to 36 inches [91 cm.], from 25 inches [64 cm.]; nylon webbinb absorbs shock, ventilates and is lighter and more comfortable than standard wood and steel spring cushioned seat.

  • Permanent canopy protects from sun during days that can reach 115 degree F, as well as from rain and during monsoon season; improved aerodynamic design reduces wind drag.








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