By Odisha Story Bureau, New Delhi:
- Mexican Ambassador to India fightng Delhi pollution
- Melba Pria is the rare exception in India
- not allowed to park her autorickshaw at an event on public transport
Melba Pria, who does not drive around in fancy sedans like her counterparts from other countries, often becomes the centre of attraction when she reaches her destination in her unusual official vehicle, now branded as the Mexico-India autorickshaw.
A convoy of luxury sedans sailing smoothly by as the small official flag on the cars flutters in the wind. This is often the image that comes to find when one thinks of foreign delegates and their vehicles.
But Pria, the Mexican Ambassador to India is the rare exception to this rule. Her official vehicle is a beautifully done up auto rickshaw.
Before becoming an Ambassador, I had travelled in India and I had always travelled in an auto rickshaw. So I thought, why not? Millions of Indians use an auto rickshaw, why wouldn’t an ambassador use an auto rickshaw?
Compared to the gas-guzzling sedans and SUVs used by most foreign delegates, Pria’s auto – like other autos in the capital – runs on CNG, a more eco-friendly alternative to fuel.
The auto will not only help reduce emissions but, in using it, Ambassador Pria is also doing her bit for the environment
The ambassador further adds,
It is a very environment friendly vehicle. And for a city like this, why not use it? This is the way that I want to contribute to the city that today is also mine. I am also a Delhite. But it wasn’t easy to buy an auto. We had to get permission from the Ministry of External Affairs.
It also took a bit of work to get the drivers on-board. When you are the driver of the ambassador, there is a certain status in it. So how do you go from being the driver of an ambassador to being an auto rickshaw driver? What I tried to tell them is, you are still the driver to an ambassador, but the ambassador chooses to have a different vehicle.
Last April, Melba Pria, was not allowed to park her autorickshaw at the India Habitat Centre, where she had arrived to speak at an event on public transport.
Failing to recognise the blue diplomatic number plate and the fluttering Mexican flag on the vehicle, security personnel rushed to stop the autorickshaw as it entered the India Habitat Centre’s premises.
The Mexican Ambassador was at the IHC to speak at an event on public transport. As the envoy’s official vehicle was denied parking space, the organizers of the event intervened but the management of the IHC refused to grant permission.
The envoy admits that her autorickshaw catches the attention of most people on the streets and has created quite a stir on social media.
The first thing that catches people’s eyes is the fun design, which is inspired by our tourism promotion campaign and the beautiful spectrum of colours you can find in Mexico. I think some rickshaw wallahs are confused initially but they always find it amusing. Even my driver enjoys being a part of the experience.
While the envoy understands that the diplomatic number plate on the autorickshaw worries people about security, she says she did not want to be any different from the millions of Indians who use the mode of transport every day.
I think Delhiites have had positive reactions to this rickshaw, as it pays homage to Indian cultural tradition. They also appreciate the fact that it may be less polluting than a four-wheeler.
Pria considers the autorickshaw an efficient mode of transportation.
The attention it has received has made it a fun and creative way to promote Mexico and its artistry.
Her auto was designed by Mexican artist Senkoe, who participated in the Delhi Street Art Festival this February.