Saturday, December 13, 2014

Uber - Banning is NOT the Answer

First - What happened in Delhi is unpardonable and must be punished to the fullest extent of law in judicious manner.  Let the case not sputter along the maze of Indian judiciary with no end in sight and the justice be served quickly and efficiently.

But banning the Uber service as done by the Delhi Government is the not the answer.  Following Government of India's recommendations, some more cities seem to have joined the 'ban' bandwagon as well.  Thankfully, Chennai hasn't followed suit and I hope they don't.
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Interestingly,  Delhi chose to ban Uber for reasons unrelated to the alleged crime.  It chose to ban Uber for violating some archaic transportation laws, which if applied must put major of private cab operators out of business.

Make no mistake, Uber aggregation model is new and disruptive.  It leverages technology to the hilt and has created a business model that is threatening the existing players.  No laws or regulations exist in most places to regulate aggregators like Uber or Lyft.  In cities like New York, Paris, Chicago, they realized the need put their arms around the new emerging model and have revised their laws to regulate business model like that of Uber and Lyft.

Delhi ban on Uber appears to be mere PR stunt to deflect the systemic failure at many levels of the Government.  Unless they are plugged, the models built on top of that will continue to be shaky.  Can we trust the drivers licenses that are issued in our country ? (NDTV purchased a real license for a mere 200 bucks just outside Delhi).  Can we trust the police certificates issued?  (Mr. Yadav, accused of the Delhi crime did produce one, in what is now claimed as a 'fake' certificate).

If App operated cab operations are not safe, then what about the call taxis? what about the private travels operators who operate out of every street corner?  Some of these drivers have committed horrific crimes as well, but those services have not been banned and they shouldn't be.

When radio operated call taxis like Fast Track, Meru Cabs came, they leveraged the 'call center' technology to create a new model in India.  And, as mobile technology progressed and Apps started enveloping our lives, new business models emerged.  One such model is Uber.

We need to embrace these kinds of disruptive innovations and not block them.  Personally, Uber has made my life a little easier.  It has liberated me from the tyranny of unpredictable cab operators.  Earlier I used to pay anywhere between INR 800 - 1000 bucks for a one way ride to Airport which is just 14 kms from home.  Most often, I would end up getting the smallest car which is ready for junkyard.  With Uber, I have always gotten decent cars and the fare never exceeded INR 500.  

If an innovation helps the end consumer why stop it?  If laws and regulations have to change then lets do that and find a way to embrace new business models, not stop them in its tracks.

I will be hiring a Uber taxi when I head back to Chennai next week.

Tags: #Uber, #India #Chennai

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