Elections 2019: From Angel Tax to better policies, here’s why the city of startups headed out to vote

Man working on a computer
  • In Bengaluru, long queues were seen at various polling stations.
  • Ola has partnered with the Election Commission to provide free cabs for Persons with Disabilities.
  • Startups in Bengaluru hope for better policies and access to capital from the government as they head out to vote.
After a night of heavy rains, the city of startups – Bengaluru – has been voting today as India conducts phase 2 of polling for its general elections. And the startups are doing their part to stay involved in the process.

Indian ride-hailing unicorn Ola Cabs, for whom Bengaluru is home base, has allotted 270 cabs to the Election Commission. These cabs will help Persons with Disabilities commute to the polling booths in Bengaluru, Mysuru and Mangaluru. Ola has also made it possible for Nodal Officers to check on the status of the scheduled pick-ups of PwD voters through calls to the driver partners.

“In the recent past, we have seen that availability of convenient transport options has resulted in positive voter turnout and we will continue to back initiatives that support the constitutional machinery of the country. We are glad to partner with the local authorities and facilitate hassle-free mobility for every voter in Bengaluru,” said Vishnu Bommareddy, Regional Head – South at Ola.

Meanwhile, Bengaluru-based Sharechat has weeded out 487,000 posts on its platform which violated community guidelines because of abusive content. Sharechat, which is India's own social media platform had earlier signed the 'Voluntary Code of Ethics’ to make way for fair elections.

But as they go out to vote, entrepreneurs have a lot to ask from the government. From access to funding to angel tax issues and better policies, startup founders had a list of reasons as they set out to vote.

“Startups expect support from an extended eco-system, which includes the government. The biggest hurdle to bring such ideas to the fore is access to capital. In this light, the angel tax should be abandoned with immediate effect. It goes against the ethos of supporting innovation,” said Mayank Bidawatka, co-founder of Vokal, which is an information and knowledge sharing app to bridge the digital knowledge gap among non-English internet users by enabling peer-to-peer knowledge sharing using voice.

Another point raised by startups is the possibility of internet monopolies in India and the required action that the government has to take to stop it from happening. “Our government should also have policies around creating a fair playing ground for home grown companies to take on global competitors that have a capital advantage because of existing international operations,” said Bidawatka.

When it comes to policies, it's not just about the introduction of new ones but also more work on the current ones.

“The most important problem to solve is that startups need a lot more clarity on what are the regulations and compliances in black & white. The ambiguity slows down the innovation more than anything,” said Rajan Bajaj, founder and CEO, Slicepay.

With the Twitter hashtag #VoteMaadi, Bengalureans persuaded each other to go out and vote. Harish Bijoor, a brand consultant, voted at the polling booth at the Seventh Day Adventist High School on Old Airport Road, Bengaluru. “The opening crowds in the queues were robust, I only hope we beat our voting turnout number of last elections,” Bijoor told Business Insider, right after he cast his vote.

See Also:
Job losses will haunt Bengaluru, India’s Silicon Valley, as it goes to polls today
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