When I first came to Bangalore, Autos and Taxis were inaccessible. The problems with them were manifold. Either they were not willing to travel at a permitted fare, or they were not willing to travel at all. They showed up their asses on your face if you commit the mistake of asking them out on a short trip. Their faces went red with unparalleled anger if you disturb their peaceful rest. They were popularly dishonest and undependable. Mostly, they relax from morning through evening, till they find someone, facing an emergency situation in life, comes by, willing to pay a rocketed fare. These drivers, the once masters of exploitation now has a twist in their lives. Their Greed, Indiscipline, Dishonesty and Lethargy now has a buyer!
There came a God sent Uber, Ola and others of kind with a magic wand- The Mobile APP! Reformation it was, personified! They invited these drivers to register with them, follow some basic rules and in return, what do the drivers get? – “Lots of money”! To make things more fancy, apart from the regular tariffs, they would also be given an additional incentive (for few months). The following days saw the drivers flocking in large numbers at the aggregator offices to get themselves affiliated.
A very interesting fact to note here.
Did the people change? – No!
Did their attitude change? – No!
Then what changed?
Nothing has changed. A simple analysis of what the aggregators actually do can throw some light –
- They ensure the drivers don’t hike rates. What are they dealing with? – Dishonesty.
- They ensure the drivers work minimum hours – That’s dealing with Lethargy.
- They ensure the drivers take you to wherever you wish – That’s dealing with Indiscipline.
- They give additional money – more than what the drivers actually earn – That’s addressing their Greed.
Can’t ignore the stark resemblance to a history that’s repeating itself. Years back, foreign forces did something very similar to India. They identified our weakness and lured us with solutions. Finally we lost our freedom, lost out wealth and when they pull out, we were left with nothing. What they did that day, looks very similar to what is happening today. Our every weakness has a buyer. In turn, what we stand to lose is our hard earned, freedom.
Let’s go back and think of a scenario where these taxi and auto drivers would have worked with discipline and honesty from the time they were on road. Just imagine – you step out of your house, hail a cab and they drive you to wherever you wish and demand only the right fare. Not only would these drivers have made far more money in their lifetime than they are currently, also no external force would have ever found an opportunity to encroach into their freedom. But sad as it is, we never value what we have. Neither freedom, nor our abilities to work with discipline and honesty by ourselves. We always need someone else to force these basics on us.
Somewhere, makes me think, most of us do not enjoy our freedom in life. We mistake freedom for a lot of other things, but not to live an honest and disciplined life. We are more comfortable when someone else sets rules for us, when someone else monitors us, when someone else dictates the way to live. Because, we are just not masters of our own lives.
It’s just not a case with the auto or taxi drivers, but of people in many such industries in our country. India is turning into a start-up hub offering a lot of professional service. From Laundry to carpentry to insurance policies to financial loans to childcare to hospital services to beauty services to what not! But what are these start-ups basically doing? They are basically forcing discipline in an otherwise cranky individual working in the same space.
My humble submission to the vast number of youth out there – You have the power in yourself. You don’t need someone else to teach you some core-basic principles of doing business the right way. When you are an independent entity, be in control. Be loyal to yourself. Be dependable for the people around you. Be truthful and fair to everyone. Live and let live. Then, no external force can dare crack an opportunity to snatch you freedom and peace.