The rape and murder of Nirbhaya two years ago singed the Congress; BJP, then in the opposition, used the heinous crime to score points against the governments of Sheila Dikshit and Manmohan Singh.
With public outrage once again on the boil over the rape of a young woman by an Uber cab driver, the BJP clearly doesn’t want to risk being blamed for not being prompt in acting, especially ahead of assembly polls.
But the ‘ban’ on Uber is a knee-jerk reaction that seeks to play to the galleries without really addressing the deeper, more intractable issues of women’s safety. Certainly, the US-based company is not blameless-there appear to have been gaps in its verification process-and should be held to account.
But how stringent is the verification of kaali-peeli or even pre-paid taxi drivers? About 10 years ago, an Australian woman was killed by the driver (and accomplice) of a pre-paid taxi she booked at Delhi airport. It’s well known that ‘regular’ black-and-yellow cabbies often let their friends and relatives drive their taxis when they go off duty.
We could say the expectation of safety was greater from a multinational, technology-driven company like Uber. But will women benefit from banning it? Will public transport become safer for them? What we need is far greater rigour in the way background checks are conducted by the police and taxi companies/ operators.
What the administration is trying to do, instead, is create the perception of being tough. There have been so many shocking instances in cities across the country of small schoolchildren being molested (and worse) by school bus drivers and conductors. Have school buses been banned? The answer lies in vetting the drivers and conductors carefully, not banning school buses.
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