American app-based transport network company Uber has signed an agreement with the Indian Army to employ ex-servicemen as drivers, a move being seen as a step towards improving women's safety, with reportedly increasing cases of crimes against them.
Uber has "partnered with the Army Welfare Placement Organisation (AWPO) under the Ministry of Defence to provide entrepreneurial opportunities to ex-servicemen who have either retired or completed their term of service," according to a press release.
It has named the service UberFAUJI, on the lines of its American counterpart – UberMILITARY, launched in September 2014.
According to the agreement, Uber will create driver-partner opportunities for over 1 lakh ex-servicemen through referrals from the AWPO, which helps them find jobs in private sectors, Hindustan Times reported.
The UberFAUJI service will start as a pilot project for six months. Uber will help the ex-servicemen who will face difficulties in buying a vehicle for taxi service through its vehicle-financing scheme, which allows them to initially spend only Rs 30,000 for the taxi.
"The EMI will be deducted from their earnings and the taxi will be theirs in less than three years. Flexibility in work schedules will be an added advantage for ex-servicemen returning to civilian life," said AWPO head Major General Deepak Sapra.
A retired soldier who gets a basic pension of Rs 7,605 a month can reportedly earn more than Rs 65,000 a month after joining UberFAUJI.
This service is being seen as a significant move for Uber, which has faced heavy backlash over safety concerns after a driver named Shiv Kumar Yadav raped a woman passenger in Delhi in December 2014. By employing ex-servicemen as drivers, the app-based taxi provider aims at ensure the safety of woman passengers.
"Ex-servicemen are dependable and disciplined. What can be more reassuring for customers than a voice on the other end of the phone greeting them with a Jai Hind?" Sapra told HT.