Under the scheme, the drivers can avail of offers and services through Uber's partnerships with leading financial institutions and car manufacturers with a down payment of as low as Rs 25,000, Uber said in a statement here.

Presently, 'kaali-peeli' drivers rent taxis for 12-hour shifts paying as high as Rs 600 per shift (excluding CNG), Uber claimed.

With the same amount of money, these drivers can own their vehicles, it said. This comes at a time when taxi and auto-rickshaw drivers across all major cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Kochi, have been organising protests, saying that on-
demand taxi aggregators like Uber and Ola are a threat to their livelihoods.

They are also demanding better rules to level the playing field regarding pricing. While cab aggregators operate on- demand based surge pricing, regular taxis have to abide by government-mandated ceilings on the minimum and maximum fares.

"At Uber, we are keen on building micro entrepreneurship by providing flexible economic opportunities for all. Through this special scheme, we wish to encourage existing taxi and auto drivers to become financially independent by reaping the benefits of our platform," said Shailesh Sawlani, General Manager, Uber Mumbai.

Uber claims that at least 30 per cent of its existing driver partners in Mumbai are ex-taxi, auto and radio taxi drivers. In February this year, during the 'Make in India' week hosted by the Centre, Uber signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government's Skill Development and Entrepreneurship Department (SDED) to create 75,000 new economic opportunities, including a focus on training women and people from marginalised societies.

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