In his fifth Independence Day speech delivered on 15th August 2019 at the Chhatrasaal Stadium, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal drew from his personal experiences to drive his policy decisions, stating, “I have seen my parents struggle with meagre means to run a family. That’s why giving free and good education, free health services, water, electricity, public transport, and safety of women are my top priority.”
He announced a series of measures aimed at promoting women’s safety, empowerment, and alleviating financial burdens. Kejriwal revealed the introduction of free rides for women on all Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) and cluster buses starting from October 29th, arguing that this measure would aid families in saving an extra Rs 3,000-4,000 each month in the face of an economic downturn.
Despite criticism, Kejriwal defended the initiative as a significant move towards enabling women to pursue their dreams without transportation constraints. He portrayed this move as one towards gender empowerment in a society where women still face discrimination.
The Chief Minister also reported on technological changes being made to make Delhi Metro rides free for women and further detailed the city’s transportation system, which includes 5,500 buses in total.
Addressing the issue of women’s safety, Kejriwal highlighted the installation of CCTV cameras throughout the city and urged women to be involved in overseeing the camera installations. He reassured that any requests for additional cameras would be accommodated.
Kejriwal further addressed the critics of his free-ride and free-education schemes by stating that he was using the previously misappropriated public tax money to benefit the people.
In addition to these initiatives, Kejriwal introduced a “deshbhakti curriculum” to be implemented in schools from the next year. This initiative was aimed at cultivating responsible citizenship and patriotism in students, reflecting the educational vision of Mahatma Gandhi.