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As Ola and Uber tweak their incentives, drivers say that it is driving them to suicide

by Apurva Venkat and Shashidhar KJ “I used to earn around Rs 5000 to Rs 6000 (per day) now I earn Rs 1700 maximum. My income has reduced drastically, actually I have no income at all. I have not paid four EMIs on my car,” says Shankar Mishra, an Uber driver in the Delhi NCR region. In the recent spate of protests against online cab aggregators, specifically Uber and Ola, drivers have been demanding better incentive structures as their earnings have started falling. The drivers say that they are not able to make their ends meet or pay EMIs for their car loans. In February, we saw the first instance where an Ola driver tried to kill himself by consuming poison in a strike in Bangalore. “The bank has said it will seize my car. I have said 'ok seize it'. What else can I do, I have no money. I have to die this way or that way. What will happen, they will take my car, put a case on me, I will go to jail. It’s ok, instead of dying here I will die in jail. Death is the only way ahead if there is no improvement in the situation immediately,” Mishra added. MediaNama has obtained and reviewed over 20 call recordings with executives and drivers over the last two weeks where the common theme has been the reduced earnings of the drivers. We also spoke to seven drivers across Delhi-NCR region, Mumbai, and Bangalore where they described a…

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