Uber is just an app that connects cabs with customers and cannot be held responsible for the actions of a rogue driver. It is not Uber, the real problem are the men in Delhi. What does Uber have to do with the rape case, the driver could have been driving any cab? Who knows what’s going on inside a man’s mind, he could have been a first time offender too? Uber gets banned in Delhi. FIR filed against Uber for alleged cheating case. Government mulling to ban Uber across the country. Alleged rapist Uber driver had a character certificate from the Delhi Police (it is a different matter it was fake). Also Read - Uber cab service resumed in 31 cities in India with new Lockdown 4.0 guidelinesAlso Read - Uber launches 'Uber Connect' package delivery service to rival Dunzo and Swiggy Genie
These are just some of the headlines and arguments we have seen and heard over the past 48 hours. And increasingly so, Uber is attempting to come across as the victim of non-existent government regulations and how Uber is trying to make the situation better. Also Read - Uber to operate 'Essential' cab service to hospitals and pharmacy stores in 4 cities
But let’s get it clear – Uber is not a victim here.
“We will work with the government to establish clear background checks currently absent in their commercial transportation licensing programs,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in his statement.
Notice how this statement tries to pin the blame on the government. Prior to the incident, Uber used to claim it did thorough background checks of every driver that was onboarded on this system. Which clearly wasn’t the case.
Many have pointed out how difficult it is to get any sort of verification done in India where a police verification certificate can be bought for a few hundred rupees. However, if that’s indeed the case and Uber had no other way to get verification done (did it even bother to look at other ways), it shouldn’t have claimed its rides to be safer than others. Or that it had a driver verification program that was better than the others.
The most outrageous comments, however, come from Eric Alexander, who gave an interview to the Economic Times. Alexander first offers money to the victim. I wonder if Uber would have dared to suggest offering financial assistance to help her recover had it been a white woman in the US.
Then he goes on to say something that has become a staple statement in Uber’s playbook. “We are also willing to be subjected to Indian laws and regulatory regime.” Does Uber think following local laws is optional?
As it turns out Uber was flouting a number of laws. Most of the cabs on its network had an All India Tourist Permit, which cannot provide point to point taxi services within the city. The cabs weren’t properly marked and Uber didn’t have any permission from the transport authority to function in the city.
On the issue of not having GPS trackers in cars, Alexander said Uber is willing to have them “if that helps.” Again, a sly indication that no matter how many safeguards Uber takes, incidents like these are bound to happen. So why even bother having them in the first place?
But that’s not to say Uber is a bad concept. It is a disruptive service, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have to follow the law or in the absence of a law that specifically apply on it, that it is absolved from the responsibility. In this case, Uber had promised (or at least given an impression of a promise) a safe cab ride and a driver it had duly verified. Both of which turned out to be not true.
Uber isn’t the victim here.