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How corporates and individuals can steer India to sustainable growth through a sharing economy

Surajit Das
23rd Jan 2019
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Sharing is an inherent part of human nature. We’ve done it since time immemorial, but the millennial generation is elevating it to the next level by embracing a sharing economy. In the past few years, several sharing economy-based startups have revolutionised multiple industries. Today, we can rent rooms in someone else’s home when we travel, or rent clothes and furniture from someone looking to clear the clutter or hire someone’s car to get around. The main factor that is helping the concept of sharing economy thrive in India is that new-age consumers aren’t fixated on owning; they are eager to share or experience simultaneously with others.

Sustainability and the shared economy

A sharing economy epitomises a utopian economic landscape: consumption is sustainable and growth is accelerated. Within a sharing economy, sustainability can be branched into social, economic, and environmental sustainability.

Shared services, be it cabs, clothes, or homes, cost considerably less than their alternatives. The quality of these services, however, remains top notch. Therefore, these services are affordable and economically sustainable. They can be availed by individuals across various economic sectors and backgrounds and can democratise several services that are currently available only to certain sections of society.

Further, shared services lead to increased and intensified social connections. These services do not just create a healthy community in the present scenario, but also set a societal benchmark that will encourage future generations to come together and enjoy services in a sustainable manner.

Finally, when services are shared among groups of individuals, it has a deeply positive impact on the environment. The earth benefits greatly when natural resources are shared among large groups of people and not exhausted haphazardly.

Ride-sharing at the helm of sharing economy

Perhaps the most significant example of sustainability through a sharing economy is the concept of ride sharing. In fact, several leading ride-sharing brands are operating across the globe, working towards decreasing transportation costs and reducing the overall carbon footprint.

According to a Boston Consulting Group report, across India’s top four metro cities, commuters take 15 times longer to cover any distance due to traffic congestion, poor road infrastructure, and an enormous increase in private vehicles. It is estimated that these four cities, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, and Kolkata, spend $22 billion per year due to congestion on roads.

Apart from financial leakages, traffic congestion and increased vehicle count also have dire effects on the environment, which bears the brunt of auto emissions day in and day out. Ride-sharing can mitigate the grim impact of constant emissions while allowing people to avoid high traffic situations and reducing commute times significantly.

Corporate ride sharing revolutionising India’s transportation landscape

The transportation sector in India is currently valued at a whopping $16 billion, of which about $2.5 billion is spent directly by Indian corporates. Ridesharing can help corporates save money while also removing a major chunk of private cars from Indian roads. Several corporates have realised the many benefits of ridesharing and have put in place shared employee transport systems (ETS). Through these systems, organisations provide affordable, tech-enabled cabs to their employees, who can avoid long, stressful commutes. According to research, 1 car eliminated from the road reduces about 2 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. So, when corporates organise thousands of employees into ride-sharing groups, they end up taking a lot of pressure away from the roads.

Further, an increasing number of corporates are adopting technologically advanced transport automation systems (TAS) that leverage innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning. These technologies can predict traffic conditions, a number of passengers and shortest routes to simplify commutes. These tech-centric systems ensure that commuters do not last longer or consume more fuel than they should. Additionally, they also track rides, ensuring the safety of employees, which is an essential benefit of the process.

The average employee spends around Rs 5,000 per month on commuting to and from work. If corporates offer ridesharing facilities at significantly lower prices, the savings alone will be enough incentive for employees to embrace the sustainable model. Leading corporates such as Accenture and Genpact provide shared cab services to their employees, contributing majorly to the fight for sustainability. Once every employee has access to shared, corporate-sponsored rides, we will advance into an era of seamless sharing and sustainable growth. To continue living in an abundance of resources, a sharing economy is the only solution. There is simply no other option.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

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