Hyderabad: A study conducted by the Indian Institute of Information and Technology, Hyderabad (IITH), reveals that a majority of Uber drivers plying on city roads lack car driving experience. The independent study titled ‘India’s Uber Wallah’ states that Uber drivers are mostly from a rural background and have experience driving tractors on farmlands.

Prof Nimmi Rangaswamy and her students — Shantanu Prabhat and Sneha Nanavati — from the Centre for Exact Humanities of IITH, compiled this study, talking to around 133 Uber drivers, hailing from Hyderabad, Chennai, Mumbai and NCR region.

According to the study, the San-Francisco based company had to change its policy to adapt to Indian consumers and drivers. Unlike foreign countries, Uber drivers in India do it as a full-time job. Indian drivers were driving rented cars or were working for someone else. Uber encouraged them to own a car, says the study.

Many respondents told researchers that they were in an informal setup before Uber. The Uber interface helps riders to plan their day and the navigation provided by the app helps them to travel even in unknown locations. Rangaswamy said, “The interface seems to play a huge role in the manner in which drivers plan their day. The drivers talked of navigability in the app that allowed them to charter their way through unfamiliar parts of the city. Some have understood the benefits of not interfering with the platform. This provides structure and ‘un-gigs’ (formalises) the driver.”

The respondents stated that their counterparts helped them buy the car. Owning a vehicle gives the drivers a sense of independence, says the study. The study also found that Uber is perceived as a caste-free, bias-free platform. It came to this conclusion, because in 2016 when the Government of Telangana and Uber started a subsidy scheme, a large chunk of applicants was from backward castes and religious minority groups.

Aiswarya Sriram

Aiswarya Sriram is a budding multimedia journalist and is currently working for NewsMeter as a "Factcheck Freelancer". A graduate from Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media (IIJNM) Bangalore, Aiswarya has earlier worked with The Logical Indian and has interned with Republic TV. Aiswarya, a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Mumbai, loves to do rural reporting. She has visited Byadgi Taluk of Karnataka, to write about the issues faced by chilli factory workers there, earlier in 2019. A craft enthusiast, Aiswarya also does quilling, painting and glass work. On her off-days, she loves to read crime-thrillers and watch anime. She primarily reports on civic issues, GHMC, human-interesting features, and fact-checking video stories.

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