WHERE THERE IS A WHEEL

SUMMARY:

Where There is a Wheel by P. Sainath highlights how there is a huge revolution that very easily happens in Pudukkottai, a small District in Tamil Nadu. It is a very rare & unique opportunity when women, especially those not very literate become the cause of change.

In Pudukkottai women started learning bicycling as a means of freedom. This was carried out to be a chain reaction when women felt that trying to make people around them also enjoy independence was the reason why women were taught cycling free of cost and voluntarily. Women who had learned cycling and had the ability to train the others were called master trainers and they would try to train the others. Fortunately, all those women who joined the literate movement were diverted towards the new cyclist movement thereby, twin advantages were in their favour. Women who joined the neo-cyclist movement were drawn towards the neo-literate movement which meant that people, especially women were able to gain a lot of freedom and also oppose male domination.

There were occasions when women used cycles for multitasking, i.e., especially so when women tried to purchase gents cycle and they used the front carrier to seat children, first their produce on the carrier and hang pots of water behind. Doing so, they were able to:

1. Reduce their dependency on public transport.
2. Sell more goods
3. Take care of their children
4. Save time and money for their comfort.

Initially, when this movement started, there were many men who opposed it, it was then that the Arivoli Iyakkam movement (light of knowledge) began and many volunteers of this movement would attack men and warn them when they made nasty remarks. Added to this, the movement had one volunteer called Muthu Bhaskaran who had written an anthem song that was sung by these and this further united their struggle.

DC Sheela Rani Chunkath moved the banks to provide loans for all those women who wanted to purchase bicycles. This further strengthened the women and instilled a lot of confidence in them. One of them tries to describe the journey on her bicycle equivalent to a plane journey because they were never exposed to any technological development.

The narrator P. Sainath who returns to Pudukkottai after some time realizes how that revolution and the same attitude still existed in Pudukkottai and the same description is seen in the postscript written by him.

Questions and Answers

I. Answer the following questions in a word, a phrase or a sentence each.

Answer: Pudukkottai

Answer: In 1991

Answer: A symbol of independence, freedom and mobility.

Answer: Light of knowledge movement.

Answer: Ans: A way out of enforced routines, around male imposed barriers.

Answer: Sheela Rani Chunkath the former District Collector.

Answer: UNICEF

Answer: Because these have an additional bar from the seat to the handle

Answer: Muthu Bhaskaran, an Arivoli activist.

Answer: Cycling.

Answer: Fifty mopeds.

Answer: Because buses were not frequent/poorly connected routes/could not afford it.

Answer: S. Kannakarajan.

Answer: More than 1500.

Answer: Freedom/mobility.

Answer: N. Kannammal.

Answer: Bicycle / Cycle.

Answer: Because they could seat a child on the additional bar / Shortage of ladies' cycle.

Answer: All women’s cycle rally in which over 1,500 female cyclists participated.

II. Answer the following questions in a paragraph of 80 – 100 words each:

III. Answer the following questions in about 200 words:

Answer: Pudukkottai district in Tamil Nadu is known for its vigorous literacy drive called Arivoli Iyakkam. To spread the message of education, the cycling movement was started by Arivoli. A large number of women learnt to ride bicycles here, Cycling became a symbol of social mobility. In rural Pudukkottai, young women who had just become literates moved fast on bicycles on the roads. The increasing number of women cyclists indicates the progress of society Cycling was liberating and gave women freedom and confidence to move on their own. So women learning to ride bicycles has become a significant part of the literacy movement.

Answer: In his essay ‘Where There is a Wheel', P. Sainath describes the optimism that cycling has brought about in the lives of women of Pudukkottai, a poor district of Tamil Nadu. The district's literacy drive known as Arivoli Iyakkam encourages women to learn cycling, they conduct cycle training camps. Cycling has given them confidence along with mobility. It increases the income of rural women. Women sell agricultural products not only to their village people but also to the people of other villages. They don't need to wait for buses which are not frequent. Cycling saves time. They don't need to walk long distances. They finish their work easily and quickly. They carry their children, the produce and two pots of water on their bicycles, thus, combining their difficult tasks.

Answer: In his essay 'Where There is a Wheel', P Sainath shares his observation that changes had taken place in the poor district of Tamil Nadu is known as Pudukkottai. Rural women have chosen cycling as a medium. They have learnt cycling which has given them confidence, freedom and above all mobility. Arivoli Iyakkam, the literacy drive has made the best use of this skill. Young girls could continue their studies and women could move around without depending upon the male members of their families. They have started selling their agricultural products carrying them on their cycles. There was a passion among the women to learn cycling. Former District Collector Sheela Rani Chunkath encouraged women to take loans from banks to buy cycles. Arivoli activists conducted training camps to teach cycling to women. Thus, this humble vehicle made Pudukkottai a unique district and an inspirational example for others.

Answer: Cycling is a social movement at Pudukkottai, a poor district in Tamil Nadu. It has given a new life to many rural women. Cycling is a symbol of independence, freedom and mobility. It is supported by the district's literacy drive, led by Arivoli. It was the brainchild of the popular district collector, Sheela Rani Chunkath. The main intention behind this was to spread literacy among rural women. As a part of this, she pushed banks to sanction loans for women to buy bicycles. Arivoli has master-trainers who train the interested activists and it conducts exhibition-cum-contests. In 1992, more than 70,000 women displayed their cycling skills at the public exhibition run by Arivoli. Being impressed, UNICEF sanctioned fifty mopeds for Arivoli women activists. Arivoli training camps also train a number of prospective learners. The neo-literates and the neo-cyclists even sing songs that encourage bicycling.

Answer: Pudukkottai, one of the poorest districts of Tamil Nadu, is a witness to a radical change, as the rural women. especially the neo-literates have taken to cycling. It has become a symbol of independence, freedom and mobility to them. Women agricultural workers, quarry labourers, teachers, all have made cycling a passion. They proudly admit that their confidence has boosted and their dependency on men has reduced. The bicycle even allows them to multitask. One can come across women carting provisions, fetching water and even selling their produce, sometimes with their children on their bicycles. Though it does not boost their economy directly, it does help them to earn more as they can cover longer distances. So, invariably cycling has changed the lives of women of Pudukkottai.

Answer: Yes, cycling is seen as a social movement in Pudukkottai, Tamil Nadu. In 18 months over 1,00,000 rural women, most of them neo-literates took to bicycling as a symbol of independence, freedom and mobility. The cycling movement has given women confidence. It has reduced their dependence on men. Women saw a direct link between cycling and their personal freedom. Women can do many things on their own without expecting help from men. But Arivoli movement gave cycling social sanctions. When women learnt cycling, they didn't need to depend on men of the family for moving about. Sheela Rani Chunkath, former district collector encouraged women to learn cycling for mobility.

Answer: Cycling has enabled rural women to be independent, free and mobile. The productivity of these rural women has increased due to this new independence. Women no longer have to walk long distances to fetch water or to sell their products or bring provisions. She no longer has to depend on public transport, so the time saved can be utilized for other purposes like cooking and guiding children in their studies. It has reduced fatigue. It has increased rural women's income by giving the women freedom to sell more of their products in and around other villages. It has increased their leisure time. So that she can take adequate rest. It has contributed to their self-respect which is vital.

Women agricultural, labourers, quarry labourers, village health nurses, Balwadí and Anganwadi workers, gem cutters and school teachers, gram sevika and mid-day meal workers and school and college students have benefitted by cycling. Neo-literates and Neo-cyclist women have a direct link between cycling and their personal independence P. Sainath describes the feelings of rural women who have learnt 'cycling'. They feel a new kind of independence, freedom and mobility has come to their monotonous lives. It has given them confidence and reduced their dependence on men. Cycling has offered a way out of enforced routines, around male-imposed barriers.

Answer: According to R Sainath, the introduction of cycling for women in the Pudukkottai district has brought about a tremendous change in the lives of rural women. Cycling has empowered women agricultural worker’s village health nurses, Balwad√≠ and Anganwadi workers, gem cutters, Grama Sevikas and school teachers, both economically and politically. Earlier, some of the women who used to sell agricultural or other products within a group of villages had to commute by bus. For them, now the bicycle cuts down on time, earlier wasted in waiting for buses.

Secondly, it gives them much more time to focus on selling their produce. Earlier, they had to rush back early to tend to the children and perform other chores like fetching water etc. Now, these women can combine different tasks with non-challenge. Similarly, quarry workers had to go too far off places because their workplaces were cut off from the main areas. Now, by learning cycling they have become mobile. Women can now collect water as well as cart provisions from other places on their own.

Answer: Tens of thousands of neo-literate rural women in Pudukkottai district have discovered a new way of overcoming their backwardness, of asserting themselves by learning to ride a bicycle. This simple and humble vehicle has done wonders in their lives. It has empowered women by giving them mobility and the opportunity to spread their wings. Knowing how to ride a bicycle made these women self-confident, reduced their dependence on men, and helped them to break the social barriers imposed on them by a male-dominated society. It helped to boost their income as these women could sell their products even in far-flung areas, they saved the time wasted in waiting for buses, they could easily do several tasks simultaneously like shopping for provisions and collecting water. They were able to save a lot of time, which they could use to take a rest, spend with their children or in any manner they chose. Thus, the drudgery of their lives was considerably reduced and most importantly cycling gave them a sense of self-respect which is very important.

Answer: Pudukkottai, one of the poorest districts of Tamil Nadu, is a witness to a radical change, as the rural women, especially the neo-literates have taken to cycling. It has become a symbol of independence, freedom and mobility to them. Women agricultural workers, quarry labourers, teachers, all have made cycling a passion. They proudly admit that their confidence has boosted and their dependency on men has reduced. The bicycle even allows them to multitask. One can come across women carting provisions, fetching water and even selling their bicycles. Though it does not boost their economy directly, it does help them to earn more as they can cover longer distances. So, invariably cycling has changed the lives of women of Pudukkottai.