When the British departed India, they left behind a legacy of ‘Tipping’. It means, a customer voluntarily offers a sum of money after availing a service. Typically, this culture is more prevalent in hotel industry. Tipping an American worker is appreciated as informal wages is an accepted idea. But in Japan, it’s against their etiquette’s as their philosophy believes good service should be expected in the first place. China has no tipping culture, Singapore does not believe in receiving gratitude’s, in UK it’s customary to tip and in India the practice is quite frequent. For many years, restaurants in India levied service charge on the bill, and it became an assumed right of the service provider. Only until recently, when the tax laws were revised, the official service charge vanished. However, the tipping culture of leaving behind 5-10% of the bill value still exists.
Tipping is a traveler’s dilemma! One has to be mindful of the native customs and traditions. An act of goodness can boomerang leaving you with guilt. Nevertheless, we humans are sociable and like to reciprocate with a gesture or a compliment. A natural subconscious intent of the giver is to motivate the receiver for his action. BF Skinner, an American psychologist and a behaviorist in his ‘Reinforcement Theory of Motivation’ explains “Individual behaviour is a function of its consequences. Based on ‘Law of Effect’, individual’s behaviour with positive consequences tends to be repeated. In other words, positive reinforcement stimulates occurrence of a behaviour. A reward can be a positive reinforcer. The more spontaneous is the giving of reward, the greater reinforcement value it has”.
The theory holds true in a formal set-up in which the human resource team drives initiatives pertaining to employee welfare. Annually, good performers get rewarded with incentives, promotions, salary hikes, family holidays and so on, to motivate the workforce. After all, every business needs high performers to achieve its organizational objectives and rolling out performance based incentives helps in monetary satisfaction, keeps employees moral high and attrition rate under check. HR departments very well understands the psychology of positive reinforcement and smartly applies within their systems. Therefore, incentivizing works to drive certain positive behaviour!
In modern times, ‘Cycling’ is found to be a constructive and deserving behaviour by the CSR teams. Employees who cycle to work are classified as sustainable heroes. More so, the United Nations has inducted cycling in its Global Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) Vision 2030 document. The European Cycling Federation (ECF) endorses the former’s chartered vision and asserts that cycling delivers on the global goals. The UN and its associate organizations has set out to achieve greater climate impact by promoting cycling through incentive programs. ECF emphasizes in capacity building by encouraging local governments to frame cycling and walking policies and offer added benefits to increase ridership.
The ripple effect, some countries have started (while some are considering) to provide incentives to people who use a bicycle for commuting. Netherlands, the most admired cycling country in the world changed its tax laws. Beginning January 2020, cycling commuters get €0.19/km reimbursement for business travel, interest-free loan for e-bike purchase and option to lease a bicycle from an employer.
In UK, the transportation department has official guidelines for employers who wants to start cycle to work scheme for their employees. In a lease-to-own model, an employer purchases the bicycle and leases it to his employee over a set period, mostly 12 months. Further, cycling for business purpose earns them a mileage allowance of $0.26 per mile.
Even the small European country Luxembourg gives annual tax breaks to cyclists. Buy a new bicycle or an e-bike and avail a tax deduction of €300 from the employer. And instead of cars, companies offer bicycles for business and private use. Likewise, similar tax benefits and cycle to work incentive schemes are offered in Belgium, France and Italy.
However, the Indian transportation authority currently does not offer any such rewards or comfort to the pedal pushers. Neither any tax relief was announced for the cycle manufacturers in the Union Budget 2020 declared in the parliament on 1st February. Surprisingly, leading this change in India is an Iranian restaurant ‘Cafe Irani Chaii’ (Chai means Tea. The double ‘i’ is to celebrate Indo-Iranian friendship). Every customer who arrives on a cycle to Cafe Irani Chaii is entitled for a 10% discount. The reward is extended even further on two major national holidays – 26% discount on India’s Republic day, 26th January and 15% discount on the Independence day, 15th August. Further, an international tourist is entitled for a 10% rebate round the year and 22% discount is offered on the 22nd Bahaman Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution of Iran, 11th February.
I was curious to know why is this privilege only extended to cyclists? I posed this question to the cafe owner Prof. Dr. Mansoor Showghi Yezdi and he said…
“I have high regards for a person who cycles. In my view, cyclists do more good for the environment than anybody else. By cycling, they not just maintain their own health but it also makes their city healthier. If air quality of one city deteriorates it will affect other cities too. It’s a collective responsibility of every citizen and government to boost cycling and reap its benefits. At Cafe Irani Chaii, I offer discounts to customers who arrive on a bicycle. A 10% deduction may not have a significant difference to a customer’s wallet but it certainly makes a huge difference to the environment. I urge people to use this human powered two wheelers for their travel as much as possible. People using bicycles themselves set examples for others, they become a solution to the problem which is good for the urban environment. With cycling, everyone is an advocate and must campaign for sustainable transport, cycle as much and contribute for the country’s well-being and the world. We are undergoing severe climate crises, forests fires, floods, cyclones etc., are signals to climate changes. Earth is one and no one will be spared. Its better we act swiftly and reduce emission levels. I strongly desire to see more cyclists on streets and I hope India sets a good precedence for the world”.
In an era where allied services unsparingly expect to receive tips, Cafe Irani Chaii has taken a strikingly differing position. Dr. Mansoor does not believe in following the conventional social and business practices and rather opts to give back to society. A philanthropist, filmmaker, a UN global peace ambassador and recipient of many international accolades, Dr. Mansoor finds motivation in rewarding the green brigade. Tipping culture is truly being re-defined as we see Cafe Irani Chaii emerging with its novel initiative. A flawless execution of a distinctive principle which nurtures the right social behaviour and energizes mindsets. This move of reverse-tipping the customers is quite enduring, practical and transformative. A gentle nudge appealing to the citizens ‘Cycle to Cafe Irani Chaii and get 10% discount’.
I visited this cafe with my cycling buddies on 26th January 2020 and we had a fine experience.
Cafe Irani Chaii serves delicious food and open on all days from 07:00 am to 23:00 hrs.
The cashier welcomes all customers with a smile, and the place offers a classical feel with its wooden furniture, glass panels, photo frames, posters, trophies, lamps and tableware.
Google Map Location: Cafe Irani Chaii
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai