Banning app-based cab services? Here’s the alternative.

rickshaw_1248729c So, Über’s got everybody’s goat. Much newsprint (and server space) has been spent condemning the rape of a woman in Gurgaon, and rightly so. All of a sudden, cabbies have turned into guys you should fear. Cries to ban them grow.

But, if you’re in Bangalore and echo this outcry, here’s my take:

When I shifted back to Bangalore after a three-year hiatus, my main readjustment problem was dealing with the auto rickshaw guys. Yes, there are exceptions but, on the whole, they’re guys who don’t give a damn, even if you’re elderly or a woman. Rude, unaccountable and, being in cahoots with the local cops, a law unto themselves, they were a total mindfuck after Bombay’s kaali-peeli taxis, God bless them.

Today, as the attached article explains, the autowallahs themselves want their fares reduced. They’re polite. And they become even more polite when, after they’ve refused you a ride, you pull out your phone and tap on a cab app. (Four guys at my local stand immediately said “Yes!” the moment I did so the day before.) Even better, you can confidently say “no” to the driver who sidles up to you at 1 am, offering to take you home at 300 bucks for a ride that’s 150 bucks, even at the legally-allowed “dubble-meter-saar” rate.

Lakhs of people have used cabs without incident. Citing one bad apple to call for a total ban is sort of like grounding every airline because of one plane crash. Banning Über, Ola and other cab companies is simply going to leave us at the mercy of these urban bandits once again. And, rest assured that no politician is ever going to suggest banning autos if one of them rapes somebody; they’re a vote bank that’s more valuable than you.

So, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater – the alternative is the scum that’ll be left in the tub.


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