Enhancing rural employability is one of the key tasks of the government and various groups working in the employment sector. Though various options and alternatives are being worked out, one such is the decision to do away with the requirement of minimum educational qualification for obtaining a driving licence.
The move was initially announced to boost employment opportunities and if followed in true spirit, it will help transform many lives. The removal of the requirement will open up employment opportunities for a large number of unemployed persons, especially the youth, and the decision will also help meet shortage of nearly 22 lakh drivers in transport and logistics sector, which is hindering the growth of this vital sector.
At present, under Rule 8 of the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, a transport vehicle driver needs to have passed class 8th. Though this provision never proved an impediment for driving license seekers, but in most of the cases the aspiring drivers had to grease many palms before they could actually lay their hands on the much desired certificate of a middle pass.
The Union Transport ministry has done away with the middle pass criteria to benefit skilled persons from economically underprivileged sections of the society.
The ministry has amended Rule 8 of Central Motor Vehicles 1989 and a draft notification was also issued last year. Notably, there are large numbers of unemployed persons especially in rural areas of the country, who may not have a formal education, but are otherwise literate and skilled.
Driving is such one skill that most of the rural and urban populace in India acquire but at times they fail to convert it as a means to earn their bread and butter.
The move by the Union Transport Ministry came after several states including Haryana had requested for waiver of the educational qualification condition for drivers from the economically backward Mewat region where the population is dependent for livelihood on low-income earning pursuits including driving.
The state government had submitted that many people in the region possess the required skill but not the required educational qualification, and were finding it difficult to obtain driving license. Same is true in other regions also.
Even a place like Jammu and Kashmir where highly skilled drivers are required to man the vehicles that have to ply on dangerous hilly tracts face this impediment of getting a middle pass certificate to enter into the profession of driving.
Now if the Union ministry’s decision is implemented seriously it will fetch good results. However, the ministry needs to ensure that special emphasis is laid on training and skill testing of drivers so that road safety is not compromised in any way.
Anyone applying for a driving license should be made to pass a stringent skill test besides short training should be imparted to these aspiring drivers by a driving school or establishment as mentioned in the Motor Vehicles Act 1988.