The incident in Delhi in a cab last week was unfortunate and shameful to say the least. Coming in the wake of a series of similar incidents, it highlights the fact that our society is still a long way from becoming completely safe for women. Strangely, when my colleague and I set out to start TaxiForSure, our only objective was to provide a safe and reliable taxi service. As the dust settles, I am confident that the focus will return to enhancing safety.
I recall an incident in April 2005 when a few ex-employees of a BPO Company in Pune had obtained credit card details of customers in the US and stolen money from their international bank accounts. This incident led to much distrust and the entire BPO industry and government agencies in India were critised by the US media. What followed was that the company concerned, and the industry as a whole, worked closely with NASSCOM and the government in strengthening their information security processes, giving the industry new shape, direction and credibility.
The lesson in this for me was that an industry that is fundamentally sound, dedicated to solving problems of customers, and in the process providing an honest living to thousands of people, WILL bounce back if they take this in the right spirit. .
I personally do not feel upset or angry about some of the actions that the authorities have initiated. What does bother me a little is a lack of awareness of what the industry is attempting to do and I wish to address that with this piece.
Terms like “App based taxi services” or “Web based taxi services” have been used as if these services were inherently unsafe. This is implicit in the bans on such services. App, Web or Phones are just channels for booking a taxi. The booking channel does not in itself make a service safe or unsafe. The same provider can offer multiple channels for booking. We offer all three channels for booking - a call center in every city where we operate, web and app booking.
An App-based booking actually enhances the safety multi fold as the taxi can be tracked by the passenger or by a friend. When a passenger at TaxiForSure books a taxi through the phone, the passenger would not be able to track the taxi but the call center would be able to. In a traditional taxi or auto service without an App or a GPS, tracking can happen only through the customer’s phone. These inherent advantages doesn’t mean that there isn’t more we can do to increase the safety of our customers. What do you call a company that employs 1200 plus people, runs full-fledged branches with call centers in several cities across India, and tracks taxi movements from a central control room in the city? Calling such a company an app based taxi provider would be totally incorrect. Technology gives a company like ours an edge in helping our partners run their fleets efficiently. However, our employees are there to ensure multiple human interfaces with customers and partners. Technology and people go hand in hand in our business by complementing each other’s capabilities.
How do I see our industry evolve from here?
What taxi companies need to do?
The support that industry would need from the government is really two-fold:
I personally believe that when industry leaders come together with the country’s governing bodies to address burning issues of the nation, the result will only be positive and beneficial for the people of our country.
G Raghunandan is the co-founder and CEO of TaxiForSure.