Banning Uber Taxi Service Smacks of Political Expediency
- This is very much a case of something terrible happened, something must be done! This is ‘something’ therefore DO it! The dreadful incident involving the rape of a 27 year old Delhi finance executive in an Uber taxi has people up in arms – people are baying for blood and someone has to pay. Certainly Uber is at fault; they did not do their due diligence. But Uber is also the easiest, most visible and most convenient target for punitive measures.
- So Uber was banned by authorities in Delhi yesterday – this may or may not be the right thing to do. What it most certainly is, is a knee jerk reaction to a terrible incident; a reaction based on political expediency looking to score some brownie points with the electorate rather than a considered course of action backed by actual reasoning.
- Let’s consider what is achieved by the banning of this taxi service. A certain portion of the population is perhaps appeased that something has been done (it is election season; the political parties are falling over themselves to appease the electorate). However there is now one less public amenity available for people of a city who rely on hired transport. Are Delhi’s streets safer as a result of banning Uber? The answer to that unfortunately is a resounding ‘No!’
- This move also smacks of political expediency for another reason – taxi and auto lobbies have been agitating against cheaper options such as Uber for a while now. AAP had earlier championed the cause of the auto and taxi drivers’ groups; the BJP seems intent on offering similar sops by this action.
Uber has faced resistance in other places as well; Uber was banned in Germany as a result of Taxi Deutschland claiming that the service did not have the necessary permits to operate within German law. The business model has faced resistance in France and Spain as well, where it is seen as competition and a cheaper alternative to other types of taxi services.
- Uber was in the news in Kuala Lumpur when there were reports of a ban. People of the city had expressed their displeasure with this action by the authorities because it took away a cheap and secure option of public transport. (Source – Yahoo)
Uber is among the pioneering startups in cloud apps for paid carpooling/ridesharing and has repeatedly faced resistance from more traditional cab services. There have been numerous examples of non-traditional business mode being targeted because they offer cheaper options to the paying public; because they threaten commercial taxi organisations as well as city officials who depend on that industry for revenue. (Source – Daily Tech)
- No one is saying that Uber is blameless; far from it. The company should certainly be made to pay for not following regulations and for cutting corners for the sake of convenience and profitability. But banning the service is a meaningless gesture; one that serves no useful purpose. The aim should be to make Delhi safer; banning Uber doesn’t do that. The electorate is not naïve enough to be taken in by such window dressing.