A petition started by Alina Tiphagne, a 24-year-old Delhi-based journalist, has gone viral, with over 35,000 signatures in 25 hours. The Change.org petition, addressed to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick urges the company to follow the same standard as the US-based service, and do a 7 year background check for all Uber drivers in India.
"A 25 year old woman was raped by one of your drivers. This driver was a repeat offender and had spent seven months in Tihar jail in a sexual assault case. This is outrageous!", the petition reads. "If your company had run a background check and got police verification done, this crime could’ve been avoided. What's worse, you have a three step background check process in the US but not in India. These are double standards." she wrote.
"The reason I started it is because we usually target the government for everything that is going wrong with the country. I wanted Uber to take accountability for whatever is going wrong - they hadn't done the background checks." said Alina, over a phone call to HuffPost India. "Sure, the government should take responsibility, but so should everyone else who is accountable."
Alina says she didn't do much to promote the petition, but the message resonated as a lot of people were thinking the same thing. "I wanted to contribute in some way possible. If you cannot snooze in a cab, how safe is the world?" she said. "A lot of my friends, me myself do this. We're entirely reliant on these cab guys when we go on a night out."
She's not in favour of the ban on Uber - "You have to make structural changes, not just ban everything. I hope other taxi services will follow."
"A lot of foreign companies take India for a ride. Unfortunately, our authorities do not carry out due diligence. This is one such case. These double standards MUST STOP." writes Vijay Gore in a comment on the campaign.