There are several reasons why it is tough to execute an idea such as carpooling or car sharing successfully in a country such as India. The consumer behavior is such that there is very little chance of existence of the services like shared cabs at an appreciable level. The very first reason is that people take great pride in owning their cars. Whenever most of us buy a car we go with it to a shrine, get all the religious ceremonies done so that the car has a long and healthy life. We adorn our cars with all the religious paraphernalia that one can think of. It is rather inexplicable at a certain level but perfectly rational and acceptable for people who practice these.
Most of us never really take off the plastic sheets that are used to wrap the car seats when it is bought right off the showroom. This is done so that the car retains its fresh look for as long as possible. In practicality, considering the hot climate that we use our cars in, this is an injudicious step since it makes us feel uncomfortable. The roads in India are always chaotic. However, we don’t seem to bother as long as our car remains unhurt. The moment our car is scratched or anything else bumps into it we just go bonkers.
In short, we invest a lot of our emotion in the car. Then there is the economic reason. Most of the people in India cannot afford a car, let alone a first-hand one. It is possible only in dreams. Even for people who are able to do it, the car is the second most prized possession following their own house. In India, your house and car are criteria for judging your standing in life and, by extension, your worth. Owning a car thus means a lot.
When we own a car it’s like we do not need to think about public transport, which is anyway unreliable in most cities in India. We feel like we control our own fate. It is like we are owners of the road we are driving. All the other vehicles are subservient to us – they need to make space for us so that we can race ahead. This is also one of the reasons why India lags behind when it comes to following road rules. Then there is the problem of sharing a space with absolute strangers and the possibility of a bad experience.