By Vishal K:
I am not an Uber loyalist or a direct/indirect beneficiary of this SFO based billion dollar company. I am just a mute spectator who took their services last week and woke up on Saturday morning with the horrific news of a young professional’s rape in the national capital. While Friday’s incident was horrific and unfortunate, the developments since then have been disgusting as well. It started with people blaming the girl for being careless and drunk. If that was not enough, I also had ample free time to watch Hindi news channels today. They almost made a festival out of it by giving her the name Veera, naming a street in Delhi as the Rape Street and finally finding an easy scapegoat in Uber. Irrelevant arguments, useless generalizations and a strange blind faith in technology to solve all our problems, but guess what, they succeeded. By the end of the day, Uber was banned and it has been the government’s strongest measure so far to make Delhi a safer place for women. Here is an alternate version of things I saw since then.
The accused grew up in Mainpuri hearing a Member of Parliament say “Ladkon se galti ho jaati hai (Men make mistakes)”. But guess what, that is okay! There was less than optimum policing in Delhi but that is also fine. The background verification system is seriously flawed but we will not fix that. The judiciary set the accused free 3 years back but it was Uber’s responsibility to make sure that this guy, having a valid license, is not driving on streets of Delhi. Ironically, I also saw a Member of Parliament who spent couple of years in jail on charges of murder, asking, “how was a guy who has been in jail, allowed to drive a taxi” (though he himself is a MP now). Finally, a prime time news reporter ended the show with an eye opener -Uber has a profit of $40bn and we should investigate it!
In a coordinated effort from Delhi police and media channels, the blame has been shifted entirely on Uber. Let us think of some rational steps that the government could have taken- find the guy who gave the character certificate to the accused and suspend him immediately. If it is a forged document, please make the process online so that background verification is not a painstaking process and people can actually trust the data. Run a stringent check on all the other taxi operators now (do not wait for next tragedy) and please ensure that night patrolling parties are not just a theoretical concept. Lastly, I do not know how it will be done but please make this country’s media houses more accountable. I don’t think that the girl in question needs their sob stories or theatrics. Her actions, once the driver dropped her, shows that she has more guts and resilience than most of the analysts and activists on these channels.
Change would take time but at least we need to first take responsibility and start in the right direction. Till then, we can live under the illusion that we have fixed things. We have banned Uber!