Through their teens, Vikas and Vinod had aimed for police jobs. Several years and attempts later, that dream had to be retired, and the brothers moved to Greater Noida, where they now drive an Uber cab.

Vinod still hurts from the failure to land the police job he so coveted; Vikas believes they couldn’t make the cut because they had no “source”. They are also bitter about the steady drop in farm revenues, which forced them to look for jobs elsewhere, since their parents’ small plot in Etah couldn’t feed them all.

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But migration has also effectively left Vikas and Vinod disenfranchised.

They are registered voters in Etah but didn’t vote in the last Lok Sabha or UP assembly election, and are unlikely to in the next elections as well; neither has the money or time to travel 200km to Etah to cast a vote. They can register as voters in Noida but that means more paperwork, which is perceived as a hurdle. It would be a lot simpler if the location of a voter did not matter, only the vote did.

“Our monthly budget will be affected if we go to Etah,” says Vinod. “We have to pay bills and EMIs.” The brothers have bought a car, which is registered with Uber.

There are thousands of people in Noida and Greater Noida, not only from other parts of UP but the rest of India, who have found jobs in the gig economy fuelled by the housing boom and tech startups, as construction labourers, society guards, cab drivers, delivery boys and so on. Many of them go unheard at the hustings because they don’t vote.



Vinod completed his class 12 from a government high school in 2016. He participated in recruitment drives by UP Police and other examinations but failed. He also made desperate attempts to earn a livelihood in his native town. But the money from farming was insufficient to take care of the family.

When he didn’t make it through police recruitment drives, Vikas found work as a guard for Rs 11,000 at a housing society a month after moving to Greater Noida. Vinod joined the same agency and worked at a store for Rs 7,000 a month. Neither liked their jobs. The two brothers purchased a Swift Dzire on finance in June 2016. The cab is on the road round the clock as the brothers take turns driving it.

And should a passenger express interest in Vinod’s political views, she will hear that the Modi government has done well on rural LPG connections and the Yogi regime on “transparency in policing” but issues like GST and demonetisation have affected the common man. “If all the parties contest independently, BJP will have the upper hand. But if there is a mahagathbandhan, it will create a hurdle for BJP,” says Vinod.

If he doesn’t vote, someone will benefit and someone will lose, but our democracy will be that much poorer.