How Haryana is working with cab aggregators to solve the unemployment puzzle
Aneesh Mugulur
July 05, 2019

Between July 2018 and May 2019, more than 44,000 youth in Haryana have been onboarded by two cab aggregators — Ola and Uber as drivers. This has been the result of the collaboration between the Government of Haryana and these aggregators to increase employment through a focused strategy.

The essence of this partnership is that the government and private sector can collectively generate employment under a framework that ensures mutual benefit and no risk. In this case, the government wanted to increase employment while Ola and Uber were looking to expand the market for their services and hire more people. While the objectives of both entities are intuitive enough to comprehend, what was missing was making this linkage and bringing them to the same table. Samagra’s Saksham Haryana-Skills and Employment Cell, set up in the office of Chief Minister of Haryana conceptualized this partnership. The team was instrumental in forging this link and helping to make this initiative, Saksham Saarthi, fruitful.

Government of Haryana’s approach

Unemployment is a concern across states. In general, unemployment manifests in three ways:

1) There is no skilled manpower for the existing jobs in the market

2) Both skilled manpower and jobs are available, but there are no linkages between the unemployed and job provider

3) There is skilled manpower but no jobs in the market

– The government often intervenes in scenario 3 by creating demand. However, this is a long drawn out process that can’t address the unemployment challenge with immediacy.

Saksham Haryana focuses on scenario 1 (more on this in another blog post) and 2. The partnership with Ola and Uber is specifically solving scenario 2 by creating systemic linkages between job seekers and employers. These interventions show immediate results and also have lesser financial implications for the government

Why this collaboration is unique

More often than not, partnerships between the government and private entities tend to give the former more control than the latter. Either the private entity is relegated to the position of a vendor who does the government’s bidding, or it is seen as a source of funding and nothing more. In the case of an NGO, the government believes it is letting the organization fulfil its mandate rather than working collaboratively on a development issue. In all these cases, the partnership is far from equal and ends up giving more control to one partner. This prevents both entities from co-working, problem-solving, continuously iterating on how best to achieve a common objective.

In this sense, the Government of Haryana’s partnership with Ola and Uber is unique. They signed a non-financial MoU, i.e. the government didn’t pay the companies or vice versa. The government also didn’t give Ola or Uber any target in terms of the number of youth to be employed. Instead, they asked both parties to commit to targets they think would be feasible. If Ola or Uber failed to meet their commitments there was no financial penalty involved. The partnership works on good faith and the recognition that one can help the other. Ola or Uber couldn’t try to become monopoly players in Haryana nor could the government demand that the firms hire only residents of the state. The idea behind the partnership was creating jobs and increasing market access, and all entities worked collaboratively to achieve this end.

What does implementation look like from Samagra’s end?

Samagra’s Saksham Haryana-Skills and Employment team have been working with the Government of Haryana to streamline policies and procedures, problem solve with the aggregators, facilitate data and information exchange, and help organize exclusive job fairs for Ola and Uber to hire interested candidates.

All of this requires ensuring a continuous flow of communication from the aggregators to the government and vice versa. The Saksham Haryana team has set up a robust communication channel between the two parties. For instance, if Ola or Uber wants to hire drivers from a particular district, they would convey the same to the nodal officer in the government. The nodal officer would then direct that particular district’s employment officer to collate a database of interested candidates who meet the eligibility criteria and send this information in the required format. The nodal officer would then share this database of potential candidates to the aggregators.

In another case, where the aggregators faced inordinate delay in getting commercial licenses processed at the regional transport office, the Samagra’s Saksham Haryana team was able to work with the Department of Transport to reduce the processing time from 4 to 2 weeks. This not only helped Ola and Uber but also other drivers and businesses.

As part of the Saksham Saarthi initiative, the Government of Haryana agreed to organize exclusive job fairs for Ola and Uber in districts of their choice. This significantly helps the aggregators in ramping up recruitment. Organizing this fair is primarily the responsibility of the District Employment Officer (DEO) and the Samagra team supports the DEO with the planning and management of job fairs. These job fairs target candidates from rural areas. Since September 2018, 14 job fairs have been organized across districts, with a footfall of nearly 3,000 candidates and more than 600 drivers onboarded.

What makes this partnership successful

The straightforward criteria to assess the success of this partnership is the number of jobs that have been generated in the state. Since July 2018, more than 44,000 youth in the state have been onboarded by Ola and Uber. The aggregators have expanded their services in four districts of the state and are starting new services as well.

But beyond the numbers, this collaborative partnership between two equal stakeholders has also resulted in meaningful policy changes. These changes improve the ease of doing business for all operators in the market and not just Ola or Uber. To understand the modalities and impact of these policy changes, they were first rolled out in one district in the state, Gurugram, and will soon be implemented across the state.

  • Samagra worked with the Department of Transport to allow non-local residents to apply for commercial vehicle licenses.
  • Processing of applications used to take an inordinate amount of time causing delays. The procedure was streamlined by reducing the number of steps involved and as a result, the time taken for processing came down from 4 to 2 weeks.
  • To ensure that there was no variation across districts, with respect to procedure, documentation required for processing commercial licenses for two-wheelers, an SOP is being developed at the state level.
  • The introduction of bike taxi services by the aggregators along with the streamlining of the licensing procedure incentivized more applications. Between January 2019 and March 2019, at least 150–200 bike commercial licenses have been processed at the Gurugram Regional Transport Office apart from those for Ola and Uber. This points to a gradual expansion of the market for commercial bike services in the state.

The engagement is now approaching its one-year anniversary and our focus is to make this a sustainable collaboration. The Saksham Haryana team has created a detailed SOP for the Department of Employment so as to build capacity within the government to manage this innovative partnership. Department officials are currently being oriented to this SOP. Based on the success and learnings of Saksham Saarthi, the Government of Haryana is considering engaging with more aggregators in other sectors.