The story so far
On a recent day in December, a 26-year-old woman executive in Delhi, returning home in a taxi at 10 pm after dining with friends fell asleep in the taxi and awoke to find it parked in a desolate area with its doors locked.
When she tried to get out of the car, the driver took a threatening stance and assaulted her sexually. Afterwards, the driver dropped her home.
All this would have counted as just another Delhi rape story but for the fact that the taxi service in question was Uber, the San Francisco-headquartered internet company, which in its fourth year of existence has been valued, according to The Wall Street Journal, at $42 billion.
Uber has been making similar headlines in cities as varied as Washington DC, Los Angeles and Chicago, and authorities in several jurisdictions besides India (Spain, Thailand, Belgium, to name a few) have moved to ban Uber's services.
If all this has left you bewildered, I wouldn't blame you. When we last looked, a taxi in Mumbai, Delhi or for that matter in New York was a creaky contraption manned by a near destitute driver.
In Mumbai and Delhi, these drivers are normally the most recent immigrants from the most poverty-stricken parts of Bihar or eastern Uttar Pradesh; in New York they are usually impoverished Bangladeshi immigrants.
How does all this square with the talk of billions of dollars in valuation for taxicab companies?
Text: Ajit Balakrishnan, Business Standard
Image courtesy: Reuters