Thousands of ex-servicemen could soon choose a new employer — Uber, the US-based ride-hailing firm. The app-based taxi aggregator on Monday signed an agreement with the army to enlist ex-servicemen as drivers, replicating a business model launched in the US last September called UberMILITARY. In India, the service will be called UberFAUJI.
Web-based taxi firms, including Uber, are facing increased scrutiny over women’s safety and background checks on drivers.
As ex-servicemen come with verified antecedents, the safety aspect is expected to be taken care of. “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,” Major General Deepak Sapra, who heads the Army Welfare Placement Organisation, told HT.
The AWPO comes under the defence ministry and assists ex-servicemen in securing private sector jobs. Under the agreement, Uber will create driver- partner opportunities for more than one lakh veterans through AWPO referrals.
Sapra said the UberFAUJI programme would be kicked off with a six-month pilot project following which the veteran placement agency would fine-tune the arrangement in a manner that is most advantageous for the ex-servicemen. Veterans’ welfare is one of the top priorities for army chief General Dalbir Singh.
After they decide to partner with the on-demand car service, the ex-servicemen will have to shell out only Rs 30,000 to own a taxi under a vehicle financing scheme being offered by the firm. “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 veterans returning to civilian life,” Sapra said.
Uber has generated employment for more than 10,000 veterans in the US where former defence secretary Robert Gates serves as the chairman of UberMILITARY’s advisory board.
Amit Jain, who heads Uber India, described soldiers as some of the country’s most talented, committed and skilled human resource. “It is our honour to provide (them) access to opportunities for entrepreneurship and empowerment on the Uber platform,” he said. A jawan who retires in his 30s gets a basic pension of Rs 7,605 per month, while an Uber driver can earn anywhere between Rs 65,000 and Rs 80,000 per month.
Uber’s rival Ola had launched a similar scheme – Ola Sainik – in August in partnership with the defence ministry’s directorate general resettlement.