Home Institution

University Of Maryland

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

India: Public Health, Gender, and Community Action


A total of 11 interviews were conducted over a 4-week period to study the subjective health and well-being of cycle rickshaw drivers in Varanasi, India. Varanasi was chosen as the location of the study because cycle rickshaws remain an integral and common mode of transportation within the city. Using ethnographic and qualitative research methods, participants were asked semi-structured interview questions to determine their personal definitions of a good and healthy life. Participant observation was also a critical method of data collection, as it gave insight into the daily routine and schedule of a rickshaw puller.

Three overarching themes were identified throughout the study. The work-life, religion, and family dynamic, as well as the multiple factors that influence these three categories, were the most important determinants for subjective well-being. Common themes arose among responses, yet certain factors, such as living conditions, physical ability and presence of children, created a clear divide in the responses among participants. Although agency and personality impacted a respondent’s interpretation of their life satisfaction, key factors such as the role of the government can be underlying influences on the subjective well-being of cycle rickshaw wallahs.


Community-Based Learning | Family, Life Course, and Society | Medicine and Health


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