This article was published several weeks ago, but it never hurts to reiterate that a bicycle is more than a sum of its parts. It’s more than a way to travel, race or find pleasure. For much of the world, it’s life giving, opportunity providing, gender and class equalizing, and destiny changing.
I’m pretty sure Nitish Kumar is one of my new heroes. Considering the culture in India, it can’t be easy to take a stand like he is…for women.
[he] set about redressing his state’s endemic gender imbalances in an attempt to boost development in one of India’s most backward states. His vision was to bring a sense of independence and purpose to his state’s young women, and the flagship initiative of this agenda is the Mukhyamantri Balika Cycle Yojna, a project that gives schoolgirls 2,000 rupees (about £25) to purchase a bicycle.
Kumar succinctly sums up the initiative’s aim and all it stands for: “Nothing gives me a greater sense of fulfilment of a work well done than seeing a procession of school-bound, bicycle-riding girls. It is a statement for social forward movement, of social equality and of social empowerment.”
How do you measure an ROI on a free bicycle? You don’t; and you don’t need to.