Pune-based udChalo brings re-employment opportunities for exservicemen, martyrs widows

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Pune, June 19, 2017 – A Pune-based concessional air ticket booking platform exclusively for the Indian Armed Forces and their dependants, udChalo has come up with initiatives re-employment opportunities for exservicemen, martyrs widows.

UdChalo has started booking counters at nine places including three counters counters in Kashmir and one in Uri which is just 4 km from the border and two in Srinagar. There arecounters in North East region at Umroi (Meghalaya) and Guwahati, Assam, and one upcoming at Dinjan military station. All these counters are operated by exservicemen including one veer nari (war widow).

Parjeet Kaur (28), a veer nari who operates a counter in Bathinda, Punjab, said, “I have joined few days back. My work is here to book tickets online and to tell others about my company. During my working hours I meet number of people and I am enjoying working over here a lot. It has also given me a source of livelihood.”

“There are many more counters coming up in various army cantonments across India with an estimate of 50 counters by the end of this year. Many of these counters will be located at remote places for the benefit of soldiers. This only means more employment opportunities for our ex-servicemen and their families”, said Ravi Kumar (31), Udchalo co-founder.

After retirement, re-employment is an area of concern for other ranks since they retire by the age of 35. “For the operation of our offline booking counters we hire ex- servicemen or their dependants. Other roles where we are working with ex-servicemen are customer care and business development. We have currently 9 ex-servicemen, 7 dependants and 1 war widow working with us”, he informed.

Started in 2012, udChalo works exclusively for the Indian Armed Forces and their dependants. It is the brainchild of graduates of Army Institute of Technology (AIT), Pune, Varun Jain and Ravi Kumar. The other team members in udChalo are also from an Armed forces background.

Ravi added, “Since we belong to the Armed forces fraternity, we have seen and experienced the difficulties our soldiers face while traveling. We want to make the experience easier for them. This is something close to our hearts. We believe our soldiers are doing their duty, to honour them is ours. Our men in uniform come from all parts of the country and travel long distances to reach home. Last minute leave approvals/cancellations make planning their travel difficult. We all know how difficult it is to get a reserved seat in trains.”

Explaining their USP Ravi informed, “udChalo works with selling last minute unsold inventory to the armed forces personnel at concessional rates. By fetching seats which could go vacant in a flight, airline gives seats at discount to our men in uniform. We have partnered with 5 major airlines and are in the process of roping in more. Jet airways overwhelmingly supported this cause.”

The company is now looking for other modes of booking apart from their website (www.udChalo.com). “This is because majority of our soldiers are not comfortable with online transactions or sometimes they may not have any internet connection when posted in remote locations Our troops with no internet connectivity can book offline by two ways. They can go to our booking counters located in Army Cantonments and also through phone booking with payment enabled by IVR”, the army kid explained.

For any booking service number is compulsory to make sure that genuine soldier, their dependants are travelling.

Ravi remarked, “ Udchalo’s success is important to make defence believe that they have the power and the unity to generate employment for themselves.”

Box – How this idea came ?

Ravi faced this problem himself while travelling to his howetown during his engineering days in railway’s military compartment. A general military compartment with a capacity to accommodate 72 passengers always carried triple to its capacity. On the other side, once travelling by air, he saw many of the seats going vacant then he realised that these vacant seats could be offered to our troops who cannot afford an airline tickets due to its high price at the last moment. He struggled for 3 years from 2012 to 2015 to get its first airline onboard. Jet airways overwhelming supported the cause of giving their last minute inventory to our troops and udChalo came into existence. Everyday udChalo is booking over 500 tickets.