It was a typical, hot, dusty, April evening and we had stopped for tea in a quiet non-descript dhaba on NH 2. Watching the sun set over parched fields, we were having a conversation that was about to change the lives of long haul drivers. Both of us were returning from a 2,000 km road trip to Jharkhand as part of Mahindra Logistics’ CSR program to connect with truck drivers and their families. Though we had met only a week ago, the fact that we had a passion for the logistics world got us connected. The conversation centered on how it was possible that even in extremely deprived conditions, the driver’s job is still not respected. The driver’s children do not want to become drivers and drivers themselves have a low self-esteem. In spite of the untiring and courageous effort they put in every day, they were soldering on as it was their ‘fate’.

The conversation further meandered to data points such as the eight million trucks plying on the world’s second largest road network and yet how the ecosystem and economic structures have evolved to give drivers a raw deal. No regular salaries, no employment contracts, no social benefit, no wayside amenities, irregular and uncertain time with family, highway harassment by the authorities literally making them drive with their hands tied and their self-confidence compromised. The average distance of 300km a day is not even half the figure quoted in the developed world. So less kilometers, less goods, lowest freight rates, less earning, and bottlenecks from the authorities ensure the business dynamics just do not add up and the stress is borne by the most vital but least empowered link in the supply chain business - drivers.

Adding to the woes, their low literacy rate is a challenge making them unable to decipher vehicle and freight documents. More seriously, the inability to grasp the safety nuances, proper loading of cargo and inadequate understanding of highway signage prove deadly. The statistics are grim: Of the half-a-million accidents every year, a quarter is linked to truck drivers with the fatality rate pegged at 25%.With 50% of the mishaps between sunset and sunrise there seems to be no way out as the drivers prefer the perilous night journeys to escape harassment during the day.

The conversation ended on a sober note recognizing the need for education and training, protection from highway harassment, decent wayside amenities, regularization of income, provision for social security cover including healthcare, provident fund, accident/death insurance and family welfare to ensure this vital and almost invisible segment in the supply chain business develops in a sustainable way.

Somebody had to take up this cause and … we did.

OurStory

Selvan Dasaraj

Selvan Dasaraj
Founder

Selvan has 27+years of corporate experience and has handled Corporate Social Responsibility, Corporate/Public Affairs, P&L , Business & Strategy Development and Operations .

Has handled various CSR programs in United Parcel Services (UPS) and Mahindra Logistics suchas scholarship for underprivileged, driver welfare activities and village adoption through various NGO’s.

Held various positions of Executive Committee Member in Mahindra’s, AMCHAM, Indo-US Aviation cooperation program, Indo-US Chamber of Commerce, FICCI and Express Industry Council of India. Selvan has been recognized as an “Innovation Champion -2014 & Innovation Catalyst -2013“ for creating an IT-enabled End to End People Transportation Solutions and for Transforming the Employee Transportation Echo system in India by Mahindra’s. He was also awarded the “Upcoming Passenger Transport Manager of India“ by CILT India in 2012.

Prior to his entrepreneurial venture with “transportMitra”, Selvan had a corporate stint with Mahindra’s, UPS, Elbee, P N Writer and DHL.

He holds an MBA , Bachelor’s degree in Commerce and Communication & Journalism from Osmania University, Hyderabad. His interests include cooking, sports and of course traveling. He lives with wife and two children in Delhi.

Ramesh Kumar

Ramesh Kumar
Co-Founder

Ramesh Kumar is seasoned business journalist with 38 years publishing exposure (print, television & web) in India and abroad. Travelled 28,000 KM on Indian highways (2010-12) to understand the living conditions of long haul drivers and wrote three books: 10,000 KM on Indian Highways, Naked Banana! and An Affair With Indian Highways.

In 2013, Ramesh set up KRK Foundation, a Registered Trust to uplift the long haul drivers’ living standards and their families living in remote villages. He provides consultancy to corporate on long haul driver welfare initiatives. He is also associated with Automotive Skill Development Council (ASDC) and National Centre for Cold-Chain Development (NCCD).

He regularly writes on transport- and driver- related issues in trade publication such as SAARC Journal of Transport, Logistics Times and Transtopics. He also brings out Drivers’ Duniya, a e-magazine at regular intervals.

Launched DRIVERS DUNIYA, India’s First print publication focused on the working and living conditions of long haul truck drivers, an English Quarterly magazine, in September 2015

He lives in Delhi with wife and daughter.