It was honestly fine when people were busy giving us Millennials unsolicited financial advice.
Sometimes it was "Beta, why don't you stop eating outside and save money to buy a house" or "Why do you need to travel every long weekend? When I was young, I was saving money to buy a car and a house."
But this harmless advice has now turned into mindless blame.
Millennials’ preference for transport hailing services such as Uber and Ola over owning cars, and NOT high taxes is the reason why the country's automobile industry is seeing a slowdown. That was the argument advanced by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Tuesday when she spoke about steps the government has been taking to revive demand and increase economic growth from a six-year low of 5 per cent.
In all honesty, this was an incredibly unacceptable statement made by our Finance Minister.
It's absolutely not okay to pin the blame on an entire generation while simultaneously crushing our aspiration to own cars because of a lack of suitable economic policies and means of taxation.
While automakers have been demanding a cut in tax on vehicle sales to 18% from 28% to boost demand, Sitharaman said, “The mindset of Millennials, who now prefer to have Ola and Uber rather than committing to buying an automobile” is part of the reason why sales have been hurt.
First off, according to Deloitte's 2019 Global Automotive Consumer Study, 34% of baby boomers (those born before 1960s) have questioned the need for an owned vehicle. Which means it's not just millennials who are choosing not to buy a car. So why wasn't their choice judged?
The same report points out that one-third of Millennials (especially older ones from 25-34 years) are already car owners.
Second, if we approach this thinking this generation is generally worse off than their parents' when it comes to anything, may then we should at least try to leave one of their choices--travelling in Ubers and Olas--out of it.The actual problems are the unpaid internships, pathetically low salaries and the constantly increasing rent and home prices. Given that's the reality, how does a Millennial then pay off the EMI for a car?
Third, maybe in today's scenario it makes a lot of sense to NOT buy a car. Public transport is effective and convenient. Moreover, traffic management in almost every Indian city sucks and is out of control. Road rage and harassment are real issues car owners face almost on an every day basis. There even isn't adequate parking in offices, malls, residential societies and markets. Oh, and car maintenance and servicing cost a bomb.
I did my own math too. An Uber/Ola ride from my home to office and back costs Rs 300 in total. If I travel to office five days a week, for four weeks, I spend around Rs 6000 in a month on daily commute. Add it up and the amount comes to Rs 72,000 for a whole year. The last time I checked that wasn't close to a down payment for a car. Further, there are barely any EMIs available that cost less than Rs 10,000 a month.
Of course, I'm spending money on more than just commuting in Olas and Ubers, but every single time I eat out, travel, meet friends and even read, they allow me to lead a more fulfilling life. I would rather take a few more years to buy a car than miss out on any of that. No wonder, we millennials value experiences.