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Ex-Aam Aadmi Party strategist Shefali Misra to head Uber public policy

Patanjali Pahwa & Karan Choudhury/New Delhi 12 Sep 18 | 03:38 AM

The logo of Uber is seen on an iPad, during a news conference to announce Uber resumes ride-hailing service, in Taipei, Taiwan | Reuters photo

Online cab aggregator Uber is likely to soon announce the appointment of former Aam Aadmi Party strategist Shefali Misra as its new head of public policy, it is learnt. 

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The appointment comes at a time when the company is trying to increase its footprint in India. Besides seeking permits for bike taxis across several cities, the San Francisco-based company recently proposed making India a hub for its futuristic air taxi initiative—Uber Elevate.  

Uber declined to comment on the matter.

Head of public policy, a key strategic position in Uber, has been vacant since former journalist Shweta Rajpal Kohli quit for a similar role at Cloud computing firm Salesforce months ago.

According to sources close to the firm, Uber has been relying on a team of lawyers to represent itself at ministries and Niti Aayog. This hire might help create a balance in the way the firm interacts with bureaucracy and politicians, they said.  

Misra, who has worked at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) as well as part of the strategy team for AAP, also had a stint with 21st Century Fox. Among the key projects that Misra could possibly help push is Uber’s bike taxi, a source pointed out. The venture has been stuck at the state government level, including in Delhi, though it got approval from the Centre.

ALSO READ: Uber execs meet PM Modi to discuss aerial taxi; Delhi, Mumbai in plans

Currently, Uber has a backbone for bike taxis waiting to be activated for Uber Eats. The ultimate plan is to use the same taxis to deliver food in the off-peak hours. “Opening up this market will add several thousand rides to Uber every day," said a former company executive. If the programme takes off, Uber could aim to surpass Ola on the number of rides.

In the recent years, Ola managed to partner with the central government on projects including e-rickshaws. In fact, the company plans to launch a fleet of e-rickshaws besides getting active in electric cars. The pilot programme for electric cars is currently being run in Nagpur, the constituency of Minister of Road Transport & Highways Nitin Gadkari.

ALSO READ: Flying cabs for public transport could be reality in 7 years, says Uber

Ola’s head of public policy Joy Bandekar quit recently to join Udaan, a B2B e-commerce startup. Bandekar had earlier served as an officer on special duty to the chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parikar.

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