156 COVID-19 autorickshaw

Date: April 2020
Designed by: B. Gowtham
Credit: economictimes/indiatimes

After easing the world’s strictest lockdown of 1.3 billion people, the streets of India are slowly becoming repopulated. But, according to B. Gowtham, a relaxation of the rules doesn’t mean people can afford to be any less vigilant. Initially, the Chennai-based artist and founder of Art Kingdom crafted ‘coronavirus helmets’ for policemen. Officers wore the spikey papier-mâché headgear whilst they patrolled the streets in search of vehicles flouting lockdown measures. The project morphed into something much bigger (and went viral in a number of states) when Gowtham remodelled his invention into a COVID-19-themed autorickshaw. Complete with 163 recycled bottles jutting out from its thin sheet-metal body, the idea behind his creation is to remind people to ‘abide by the rules’. Those caught without a face mask outside of their homes can be fined between ₹100-1000. Some can face prison time of up to 6 months. ‘People need to be more aware of the crisis we are facing’ explains Gowtham, ‘and how a simple measure such as wearing masks will go a long way in helping save lives.’ 
- Genevieve Drinkwater
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