Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was trolled by some social media users and the Congress for her statement in which she reportedly cited a behavioural shift of opting for rented transport service like Ola, Uber as one of the reasons for the slowdown in automobile industry. Congress took to Twitter, taking a dig at the minister and asked whether the decline in sales in trucks and buses was also caused by the millennials. Congress spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi has criticised that the FM is shifting the blame on others. Some mocking hashtags on Twitter have also gave an impression that the FM is targeting millennials or the younger generation for the slowdown in automobile industry.
All these attempts are false and malicious on the following grounds:
- FM Nirmala Sitharaman has not cited the supposed millenial preference for Ola or Uber as ‘the only reason’ that is affecting demand in the automobile industry. She has also cited Bharat Stage 6 implementation as one of the reasons. With BS6, Congress has its answer for its question of what about the sales of trucks and buses.
- The minister never really ‘blamed’ millennials. She was simply citing a behavioural shift which is unfolding in India and worldwide, affecting the ownership patterns and thoughts about buying cars. Long before the minister, many industry veterans and the media analyses have extensively spoken about this phenomenon.
Ola, Uber, and Behaviour Shift in Vehicle Ownership Pattern
For all those who are busy either mocking the Finance Minister for speaking on the Ola and Uber example or interpreting it wrongly as blaming the millennials, some facts are available in the public domain.
Back in 2015, Mahindra group chairman Anand Mahindra had publicly acknowledged that youngsters not wanting to own vehicles is affecting the car sales.
Recently, chairman of Kotak Mahindra Bank has also acknowledged this trend.
Here is what another person from the industry had to say about the trend in 2017.
Media analyses such as this, have also from time to time argued that how it is beneficial not to own vehicles and instead opt for services like Ola or Uber. This report from Business Standard in 2015 had explained in detail with various examples on ground on how a behavioural shift is happening in commuting. Here is an excerpt:
“The conversion from ownership to taxi hiring services is gaining ground. Rajesh Thakur, a Mumbai-based entrepreneur, barely uses his car anymore. “Driving through the mad traffic during peak hours and hunting for parking was a major problem. I now use Ola or Uber. Only on days when I have a lot of meetings do I take the car and with a driver on hire for the day,” he says.”
So, what is this outrage and mocking of Congress and some social media users against FM Nirmala Sitharaman really about?
Does Congress not want government to implement BS6 norms which is mandated by the Supreme Court to contain the pollution?
Are some uninformed people on social media and the opposition simply resorting to blaming the government while the slowdown is very clearly a global trend?