Are Uber and millennials behind India’s auto slump? – World News

Are Uber and millennials behind India's auto slump?

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Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has faced a Twitter storm after she effectively blamed millennials for the downturn in the country’s auto sector.

She told a gathering that youngsters were not buying new cars as they preferred taxi-hailing apps like Uber.

The comments were ridiculed by Indian millennials who tweeted a series of witty repartees in response.

Did Ms Sitharaman have a point – or was she completely off the mark?

Many millennials clearly thought the latter.

The ironic hashtag #BoycottMillennials was trending in India on both Tuesday and Wednesday as hundreds of them began tweeting in bemused protest.

And economist Vivek Kaul shared a similar opinion.

“India’s economic slowdown is being narrowed to the auto slowdown which is not the case. This is just simplifying and trivialising a very complex issue,” he told the BBC.

“We can keep arguing about millennials but that’s not it. How do they then explain a slowdown of sales in tractors, commercial vehicles and even mopeds? The fact is that broader society is not spending money as they are not confident about their economic future.”

Why is India’s car industry in breakdown mode?

However, Abheek Barua, the Chief Economist of India’s HDFC bank, said that dismissing Ms Sitharman altogether would be a “folly”, although he also said there were many other factors responsible for the auto slowdown.

“The fact is she does have a point. Millennials are tending to depend more on aggregation services like Uber and this is something that car companies have to think about,” he said, adding that many car companies targeted first-time owners who would happen to belong to this particular age group.

However, Mr Barua said that this was likely to be a much smaller issue as the industry was facing bigger problems like a lack of financing.

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