Hyderabad: Unlike in most other countries, where it is deemed a part-time job that helps make an extra buck in their spare time, Indian drivers attached to the multinational ridesharing company, Uber, consider it as a full-time permanent livelihood source in their capacity as independent business owners. Even more contended are the religious minorities as it gives them an identity wherein they are not subject to any sort of discrimination, unlike many other professions.
These were the major findings of a recent study conducted by IIIT Hyderabad, which has profiled close to 133 Uber drivers in a paper titled ‘India’s Uber Wallah: Profiling Uber Drivers in the Gig Economy’.
The paper has thrown light on several interesting facets related to drivers vis-a-vis working under the Uber umbrella but independent of the employer.
‘For Mudassar, who hails from a family of glass-bangle makers, working for Uber provides him with lucrative employment opportunities and negates instances of discrimination he would have otherwise faced with respect to the religious minority group he belongs to,’ reads one of the interviews taken by the researchers.
The paper was authored by Prof. Nimmi Ranga-swamy and her students from Centre for Exact Humanities, Shantanu Prabhat and Sneha Nanavati. For the purpose of the study, they had 133 drivers as respondents.
The paper chronicles the time from when Uber entered the Indian market, where it realised that the San Francisco-headquartered cab aggregator would have to tweak their economic model to suit local conditions.
‘Unlike the West wherein typical Uber drivers are part-time workers looking to make that extra buck in their spare time, most Indian Uber drivers work full-time. Also, unlike their western counterparts who drive their own private cars, Uber wallahs don’t own personal vehicles but are, instead, driving them on behalf of someone else,’ the paper reads.
The researchers also discovered that all Indian Uber drivers have been in an informal or gig economy until now.
“This is like turning around the whole discourse that the developed world is trying to project,” exclaims Prof. Ranga-swamy....