ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Aggregators, Driver-partners and the State

Administrative and Legal Conundrum

Based on the interviews of metered taximen and aggregator drivers, news reports, and a review of aggregators’ operations in different countries, the many violations by the aggregator companies are brought forth. By reviewing the ground realities with regard to the companies’ blogs, their promises, and six different policy drafts aimed at regulating Uber and Ola, the need to see beyond and question the discourse of scientific rationality that frames their operations is highlighted.


Mumbai in October 2018 witnessed more than 10 days of strike by the drivers of cab aggregators Uber and Ola, demanding a raise in base fares, fares in accordance with the car-type and fuel price hikes, accountability of companies while delisting them, and greater security. It was called off temporarily. However, by 17 November 2018 drivers were again planning a strike.

Ola was launched in Mumbai in 2013 and Uber followed in 2014 and soon became a preferred alternative to the state-regulated metered or kaali-peeli taxis. Uber claims, “Uber has been there for one and all … Uber is changing the way this city moves.” Ola has “a car for every occasion,” “cabs for every pocket.” They disrupted the monopoly of the existing kaali-peeli drivers. Aggregators posit themselves as a disruption that the city and its global elite deserve by easing out long commutes characteristic to the city, by bringing certainty and security to rides driven on the plank of constant surveillance through global positioning system (GPS) navigations. Algorithm-driven fare calculation makes the process dynamic, market-driven and promoted as precise, rational and scientific. Further, aggregators claim they are making drivers “entrepreneurs.” Uber calls them “driver-partners,” while Ola refers to them “micro-entrepreneurs.”

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Updated On : 25th Nov, 2019
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