‘Uber Phenomenon’ – Symbol of Social Reorganization
 Source : News Bharati English  Date : 23-Sep-2016

‘Uber’ is not any historically significant name. But it is very important in commercial and more so in sociological context. It has become an acronym for some phenomenon which is of great significance to India. It is a name of an international brand of Taxi or Cab service. Its history is a few years only, not even of a decade. This Cab company is also active in India and is expanding its business fairly rapidly in all the metros. It is an outcome of right perceptions, critical thinking, analytical ability, creativity and persistence to push an idea, realized accidentally, in practice.

It is the story of enterprising acumen of two persons namely Trevis Kalnic and Gareth Camp. They were once stranded late in the night on the outskirts of Paris for want of taxi to go home. They were deeply anguished by this incident. At that moment they felt helpless. But they were not Indians, more particularly Hindus, to forget the incident just like that. A Hindu, genetically and by cultivation, is at ease to stand any such miserable state of affairs without any grudge. They did not blame the fate as any Hindu would do under similar circumstances. A Hindu might feel it to being God’s will and forget the whole incident. He always feels that if God is there everything will be available without any endeavors, much less hard work.

But the pair of Kalnic and Camp were descendent of the western civilization wherein lessons are learned from every experience or every happening, good or bad, helpful or unhelpful, irritating or otherwise and so on. They were grown in the tradition to transform every such odd and irritating experience into a workable product, design or operating system that would make the life of one and all less troublesome and more pleasant.

Kalnic and Camp therefore, very critically analyzed the whole story of not getting a taxi at the right time, at the right spot and at the right cost. They wondered as to what is the way out for anyone when faced with similar situations?  As is the scientific way of thinking about any problem, they first defined the problem. It was to provide taxi at anytime, anywhere, at the right cost and at the asking without much delay at the pre-determined usual fare without any argument with the driver of the cab, under safe driving conditions; that is no exploitation of the customer.

They designed a company using the modern information technological tools incorporating mobile and modern apps to integrate all the parties related to taxi travel at anytime and anywhere. This was a new concept requiring a new organizational set-up working at twenty-four hours non-stop right round the year. The name of the company they created is now known as ‘Uber’.

It represents efforts to design new set-ups to suit the evolving requirements for a modern happy social life. Looking at that another one by name ‘Ola’ has also come into service on similar lines. It has pleased customers almost all over the world and has become a company with the turnover of multi-billion US dollars.

The way the auto riksha-walas or the taxi-walas in India make the life of travelers pathetic, particularly in a new place is simply irritating and unbearable; besides paying extra fare than the due as per rules. No one has been able to solve this problem of ‘tu-tu-mai-mai’ at the bus stand, railway stations and in the market in India so far. Being Hindu we tolerate all this nonsense. Occasionally there are scuffles with the drivers if the passenger is strong and stout enough. All these factors have been responsible for the success of Uber even in India.

It has been designed to be a joint and organized venture of taxi-drivers, taxi-owners, passengers, managers to provide all pleasing service of transport to one and all. On the whole of it is an organized effort of all so related to each other to provide a taxi for anyone at declared rates, anywhere and at the asking. The most interesting part is that Uber-Company does not own even a single vehicle operating as a taxi in their companies. Their enterprise has been to evolve a design of all related and concerned in this endeavor and administer and manage it with full satisfaction to all concerned with practically no complaint. Now no one needs to enter into argument or scuffle with any taxi and auto drivers and travel peacefully to the destination at mutually acceptable cost. One can pay through credit card. One can complain if a longer route is deliberately taken for the travel. The concerned driver is warned and penalized for such irregularity and insisted upon to charge only the minimum due. The system provides all such safeguards.

Why not in India?

The question remains as to why such an apparently simple thing could not be imagined by anyone in India and got it going? Why the design had to be imported with all its know-how from the western world, particularly when except the design and the management all the manpower and vehicles required are provided by only Indians? The westerners themselves certify that the Indians have been gifted by nature with an evolved brain of over ten thousand years. That is the reason why Indians are doing marvels in the field of information technology all over the world. With all, that and however, Indians lack in one respect and that washes out all that the brain is capable of in doing any such thing.

The Indians do not have an institutional mind. In fact, they often revel in destroying such institutional mind by their act of omission and commission. The degraded and perverted co-operative movement is the shining example of such innate tendencies. The history of organizations in independent India, barring some specific examples, is one of disintegration and degradation. It only means that they cannot work in an organized way towards one common and agreed goal collectively.

An organization must have an agreed leadership under whose direction the rest work. Unfortunately almost every Hindu considers him no less than a leader. It may be the genetic defect. Hence Hindus do not have any inspiration to work collectively. They are genetically attuned to work individually. That is why Uber had to come from the western world, where they may be individually inferior to Indians, in terms of caliber are far superior in performance to work collectively. That is why all taxi-walas could not organize themselves to design and operate the equivalent of all pleasing Uber-like company in India and take it to other countries.

Some time back some agency analyzed the performance of top managers who were from different countries but working in USA as CEO’s of good companies. To their surprise, it was found that the Indian (by origin) CEO’s were far superior in intelligence and performance at the individual levels whereas they were inferior to particularly those from western world in terms of working as a group. It reflects the specific characteristics of Indians.

It is probably because Hindus right from their childhood live very much under social conditions wherein the innate desire is to achieve salvation or Moksha, Nirvana, Arihant, etc. In spite of industrialization and westernization, this desire for salvation does not get abetted much. The path to salvation is to be traversed individually and alone and not collectively. We never say let us collectively venture on the part of salvation. It is always individual’s aim.

The physical and mental training required for salvation is to be cultivated individually through proper, persistent and rigorous sadhana. It has entered genetically into the Hindu body. The sadhana includes not just the ascetic exercises but even the daily routines for maintenance and sustenance of self as well as family. That is how an average Hindu is more individualistic in approach towards everything in life. No wonder the US agency found the Indian CEO’s more individualistic in approach and lacking in collective working style.

Historical truth

The whole of Hindu history is full of individual attempts to defeat the invaders. They did not realize that one of us individually is as strong as all of us together (reference here is to kings). No wonder they were defeated and Hindus became slaves for more than a thousand years. That is why after the successful Maurya empire some two and half millennium ago no one else could establish pan-Indian administrative and managerial control over entire India until the British came and established the same.

Many kings preferred to be protégés of earlier Mughal emperor and later of British. Hindu kings fought against other Hindu kings on behalf of Mughal emperor. The story of Shivaji and Mirza Raje Jaysingh as Aurangzeb's assistant is a typical case in point. The Peshavas later destroyed the Mughal Empire by breaking their throne but could not organize the Hindus under one banner all over India.

The Hindus never understood the need to form strong pan-Indian organized force to face the invaders. Even the independence movement led earlier by Tilak and later by Gandhi thought that unless Muslims join them, by acceding to whatever their terms and conditions, they would not be strong enough to fight British to get independence. This is the Hindu psychology historically developed all through their past.

On the contrary, British established their empire almost all over the world because of their organized strength. The challenges of sustenance in the prevailing environmental conditions perhaps made them work in organized fashions. They also realized that organized efforts help in research and development since the curiosity of those involved get pooled up to discover and invent new products, designs, and services and produce goods and services by organized efforts. Hence they could exploit the industrial revolution all over the world through their organized strength only. Their history is full of such organized victories. A handful of British, not even all soldiers, successfully defeated Zulu mob of thousands in Africa, is a well-recorded history. All those involved therein were then awarded the famous Victoria Cross that was installed for the first time just for that victory.

Fundamental drawback of Hindus

It was Dr. K. B. Hedgewar who realized this defect in the Hindu society almost for the first time and, against the backdrop of British social qualities, decided that the Hindu society needs to be organized properly into a mighty nation covering the entire land of traditional India. Once Hindu society is so organized not only it will gain independence from British readily but all the problems like poverty, ignorance, hygiene, social welfare, untouchability shall be solved within no time. That is how he talked about it with the Congress leaders and social thinkers around. But not many were convinced by his argument. In fact, many ridiculed at his perception and foresight.

This is the reason why he started altogether unheard-of and unthought-of activity, now known as RSS, to organize the Hindu society on the national level. The aim was just to organize the Hindu society and those who are so organized shall do whatever is required to make India a great Hindu nation through their organized efforts in every possible walk of life. That is why RSS insists on only organized activities and not on any individual marvels. The net result of Hedgewar’s RSS work can now be seen in the form of mighty Sangha-pariwar organization.

This is what is referred to here as the phenomenon of ‘Uberisation’ in the Indian or Hindu context. In the long history of Hindus no such Uberisation of Hindu society was ever attempted by anyone, perhaps except by Shivaji. His attempt did succeed to some extent since it finally resulted in dislodging the Mughal Empire from Delhi. In fact, negative Uberisation was cultivated and sustained, knowingly or unknowingly all through the Hindu history. Due credit must be given to Dr. Hedgewar for his efforts in setting up and nurturing of RSS for evolving a dynamic and vibrant Hindu society befitting the current times.

 Organizational truth

Let first understand the structure of modern societies as are evolving in the light of industrial and information technological revolutions throughout the world. Modern society is a society of organizations. It is a complex web of organizations at the local, regional, national and international levels to meet varied human needs. Now nobody can live happily without getting involved in this web. No society or nation can progress without an efficient organizational web. What is therefore primarily required is to get organized at least at the national level to ensure individual and collective progress.

In other words, let us ‘Uberise’ ourselves efficiently. Unfortunately even now not many in India realize this basic truth of progress. They expect progress without organizing the society. Even the education does not emphasize the dire need to be organized.

The progress of any society in the modern world is primarily determined by the creativity. In an organized effort curiosity of many get pooled up into a mighty force that innovates on problems and provides appropriate solutions for overall happiness of all.

Hindus have yet to realize this plain truth. The more the Hindu society moves away from negative Uber to positive Uber principle the more is the guarantee of moving away from the present towards more disciplined, peaceful, all-inclusive, all pleasing, and all empathizing society.

Dark side

If Hindus cannot even organize simple transport system like the taxi service and for which they have to import Uber or Ola to organize the local auto and taxi-walas then it must be considered as disgraceful for the Hindu society. What is expected is positive ‘Uberisation’ of Hindu society. If we can’t do it then no defeat will be larger than this for the Hindu society. We may tom-tom ourselves as a great nation and marching to become super power soon. But it will not be possible without positive Uberisation. Not that we did not know it in the past but we did not assimilate it to behave accordingly.

Let us learn the lesson now.