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Centre's letter to Uber asking for action against drivers for discriminating against activist welcomed

The Facebook post by disability rights activist Arman Ali highlighting the discrimination he faced from Uber drivers has been taken notice of by the Centre, a move that many in the disability sector hope will lead to greater sensitivity from all service providers.

Uber India continues to face heat for the insensitivity shown by its drivers in Chennai towards well-known disability rights activist and National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People's executive director Arman Ali.

Almost two weeks after Ali took to Facebook to report the discrimination he faced while traveling to Chennai aiport, the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry has asked Uber India to take action against the erring drivers. Ali had tagged his post to the Prime Minister's Office and Narendra Modi.

Details of the letter, first reported on PTI and now widely circulated in the media, say the ministry has asked Uber to "take appropriate measures to sensitise its drivers to take care of persons with disability so as to avoid any recurrence of such incidents in future. Action taken in this regard may be intimated to this Department".

In his Facebook post, Ali said that because of the insensitive treatment, he missed his flight to Delhi and had to shell out â'¹14,000 to book a fresh air ticket. All Uber India did was apologise and offer a refund of the cancellation fee of â'¹45.

The letter from the government has been welcomed by many. Bengaluru-based social entrepreneur and disability rights activist Ankit Rajiv Jindal hopes this will make service providers more sensitive to the needs of the community.

It is about time services especially, in the private sector, take cognizance of people with disabilities. It is high time the needs of the community are taken into account. Uber must sensitise its drivers. The issue is that inaccessibility runs deep and its also on us to stop treating it like the norm, be it when it comes to banking, IT, etc. All sectors have to take cognizance. - Ankit Rajiv Jindal, Social entrepreneur

The more the community speaks up, the greater will be the pressure exerted on all. "Last year, a white paper was brought out by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) regarding making telecom services accessible", says Ankit, "but there has been movement forward. Website accessibility is an issue too, so the onus is on us to speak out and make our voices heard".

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