Your auto driver might soon be an expert in first aid, traffic rules and civic sense, thanks to a new course introduced by Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University

The next time you take a ride in an autorickshaw, don't be surprised if the driver decides to give you a tour of the city while swerving to avoid potholes. On Thursday, the Yashwantrao Chavan Maharashtra Open University (YCMOU) launched a special course for the rickshaw drivers of Mumbai. General Secretary of the Mumbai Autorickshaw Men's Union Thampi Kurien attended the launch at the Keshavrao Gore Smarak Trust Hall, Goregaon (west). 

YCMOU, that has previously started courses like MBA for police constables and a special course for domestic helpers in the city, announced a three year graduation course for over 2,00,000 rickshaw drivers. "This is an ideal opportunity. This degree course can benefit the auto drivers in future, as they can apply for a government job in same field," said Kurien.

Graduates of the programme will be eligible for transport positions in the police and other government offices, he added. The BA in Road Transport Administration will cover subjects like tourism, fuel economy, healthcare, first aid, traffic rules and civic sense. 

While transport administration will be a compulsory subject, history, sociology, economics and languages that will be on par with a regular Bachelor of Arts degree, will be optional for students. Applicants who have not cleared their SSC must first participate in a four-month preparatory course that begins in January. The preparatory course is available at a fee of Rs 300. The degree course will cost rickshaw drivers about Rs 1,500 per year and will begin this June. 

YCMOU plans to tie up with a radio station to announce the course details to the drivers. They will be given study material in the form of CDs and regular Sunday classes will be held at study centres across the city in areas like Borivli, Bhandup, Thane and Mumbai Central.