'Not anti-Semitic': How Australian Hindu, Jewish groups worked to make Uber reverse woman's account ban

Swastika Chandra's name was finally ruled not-offensive by Uber Swastika Chandra's name was finally ruled not-offensive by Uber | Twitter

A Fiji-born Hindu woman was blacklisted and denied services for about five months by the Uber app in Australia before the decision was reverted. 35-year-old Swastika Chandra's first name was ruled "offensive" by Uber 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 how the Sanskrit word is a common Hindu name, reports said. Here is the development in a nutshell for those interested in knowing more:

  • Brought up in Fiji, Swastika Chandra is a resident of Sydney, Australia. It was on an October afternoon in 2023 that she was challenged over her name by Uber.
  • While trying to make an order, the working mother 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 personally 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 licence 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. Among the parties that fought for the woman's cause was Australia's The Hindu Council, and the local Jewish community along with the NSW attorney-general, Mirror said.
  • "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 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.
  • "A bit of education, I think, is needed. I'm very proud of my name. I believe in the good that comes with it and I'm not changing it for anyone," Swastika reportedly said.

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