news Wednesday, February 11, 2015 - 05:30
Parikshit Vivekanand | The News Minute| December 10, 2014| 4.43 pm IST In light of the recent Uber rape incident, a women-operated taxi service would sound like the best alternative for women hoping to make a safe ride home. As idealistic as the idea sounds, three men based out of Bengaluru who started a taxi-service along the same school of thought are now fighting to ensure their company survives. ‘Angel City Cabs’, a company based out of Bengaluru says it believes in women empowerment by applying the concept of women operated taxi services for women passengers. Started in 2013 after the news of the brutal gang-rape of a woman on a bus in New Delhi which was highlighted by the media in 2012 which raised concerns about woman’s safety across the country, the idea was implemented by three men, Advocate Surya Mukundaraj, Vinay Chaitanya and a Journalist and social activist Manjunath Adde. “The primary objective of the company is to provide a safe commuting experience exclusively for women while providing underprivileged women a source to earn money with dignity” said Shruti Surya, managing director of Angel City Cabs, while talking to the News minute. Once implemented, however, the company faced a plethora of problems regarding its female employees. When they started off in the cab industry they had 15 to 20 women who had joined their 6-month training programme which included teaching them the art of driving and handling customers. Now with only three lady drivers the cab company is finding it difficult to cater to all the bookings they receive in the day as many lady drivers have left the company. “Female taxi drivers are not confident to drive in this city traffic and they are often insulted by other lady passengers who often take advantage of their lack of understanding of the English language” says Shruti Surya, managing director of Angel City Cabs, a cab service company. “A lot of these women drivers who come to train with us are from very adverse backgrounds and have faced multitude levels of problems in their lives. They are not well educated and find it difficult to adjust to the customers and hardships of a city life”, said Shruti. On the topic of background-checks which has gained more prominence since the Uber rape, Shruthi responded saying, “We do not have a rigorous background check yet as a lot of our employees were either orphans or belonged to the lower middle class, but we do ask for basic educational qualification certificates and identity proofs. There are times considering the backgrounds, we request employees to allow us to meet their parents, who act as an alibi for the employees character”. The cab industry in the country is growing at a fast rate as more and more web and other platform based cab service companies join in the race. “On an average we receive 5 to 6 bookings in a day and we have fixed rates for airport pick-ups and drops”. We are finding it difficult to level up with the new entrants but we believe the service we provide is a lot more than just dropping passengers to their destination. To stay in the race we need investors as we are running out of our funds to keep the company going”, says Shruti when questioned about survival in the industry. The drivers in the company receive a salary which is based on the level of experience and confidence they showcase while driving. They could be paid anywhere between Rs. 8000 to Rs. 12000 a month confirms Shruti Surya who is also the wife of founder Surya Mukandaraj. A year and a half later, Delhi still recognizes ‘rape’ to be the number one public enemy of the state. Ventures like Angel Cabs have attempted to provide women a safer alternative while simultaneously giving underprivileged women a chance at employment. However, circumstances have made such attempts difficult.
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