Uber bans Sydney’s Hindu woman for 5 months over name controversy; reverts decision, issues apology

Uber row. Photo courtesy: Swastika Chandra (Videograb from X) & Uber Eats (Wikimedia Commons)

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IBNS-CMEDIA: A Fiji-born Hindu woman was blacklisted and denied services by Uber in Australia over her name ‘Swastika’ for about five months before the decision was reversed. 

The Uber app ruled 35-year-old Swastika Chandra’s first name to be “offensive” in the light of its connection to Adolf Hitler’s Nazi party.

However, the company issued an apology to the woman and reinstated her account after they understood that her name was a Sanskrit word and is a common Hindu name, reports said.

Brought up in Fiji, Swastika Chandra, a working mother now, is a resident of Sydney. In October last year, she encountered a problem with her name in connection to the Uber app

While trying to make an order, she received a pop-up from Uber that reportedly read, “Your first name is in violation and you need to change your name on the app.”

However, Swastika was not willing to change her name as she was confident that the name predated the Nazis and was common among the Hindu community.

“It is a very common name. I know four or five other girls with the same name. […] It means good luck. It means good things for me,” Mirror reported her as saying.

If the Australian government had no issues with providing her citizenship certificate, health care card, and driving license under the name, why should Uber be offended, Swastika asked.

However, as a consequence, the ride-share and food-delivery service suspended her account.

Five months later, the account suspension was lifted following a prolong battle that was fought by Australia’s The Hindu Council, and the local Jewish community along with the NSW attorney-general, Mirror reported.

“There is a difference between Ms Chandra innocently using her name and the deployment of a sinister symbol,” The Jewish Board of Deputies was quoted as saying by the media.

Understanding the mistake, Uber later apologised and allowed Swastika to rejoin the platform.

“We understand that there are different cultural nuances to names, and therefore our teams address incidents like this on a case-by-case basis to ensure we evaluate each account fairly. In this case, after reviewing Ms Chandra’s request, we reinstated her access to the app.

“We have apologised to Ms Chandra for the inconvenience this caused her, and we appreciate her patience as we reviewed the matter, which took longer than we hoped it would,” the app reportedly said in an official statement.