Twitter is Ground Zero for another culture war today. And at the centre of it is Zomato, the food delivery service. On Wednesday, Zomato decided that it wasn’t enough for them to merely deliver food to its customers, it also wanted to be our ‘Moral Science’ teacher.
Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion. https://t.co/H8P5FlAw6y
— Zomato India (@ZomatoIN) July 31, 2019
In reply to one of its customers who demanded his order be cancelled as the delivery boy was a Muslim, Zomato quoted the tweet and said, “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.” Of course, it doesn’t mean anything at all. Food does have a religion. The entire battle over beef is due to religion, is it not? Vegetarianism in India is overwhelmingly motivated by religious beliefs. To claim otherwise is stupidity.
Zomato’s objective, of course, was to virtue-signal about its superior moral values. Common sense could take a hike. However, there’s something extremely problematic about the entire series of affairs.
The mature way of handling this would have been to sort the matter out in private. It couldn’t then have been used for marketing purposes but, at least, our society could have avoided taking another step on the road to chaos. But expecting a company to let go of a great opportunity for a PR exercise and behave like decent human beings for once is a bit too much.
The Founder of Zomato, Deepinder Goyal, jumped on the controversy too. He had to use precisely this moment to convince everyone of his moral superiority. He tweeted, rather proudly, that he doesn’t care if the company incurs losses, his values come first.
We are proud of the idea of India – and the diversity of our esteemed customers and partners. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values. ?? https://t.co/cgSIW2ow9B
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) July 31, 2019
But what are Zomato’s values exactly? Are they even supposed to have any values at all? If their values are contingent upon the dominant political opinions of the time, isn’t it a greater cause of concern? For instance, if we have a situation in our country in the future where discrimination based on religion is an acceptable course of action, Zomato will pander to that as well. Google does it. For all their virtue-signalling, they do work with the Chinese government to help them with surveillance. Therefore, it’s businesses using their ‘values’, whatever they are, to sell their products will always be a bigger concern.
It didn’t take long for Twitter users to discover that Zomato doesn’t practise what it preaches. They do believe food has a religion after all. When a Muslim tweeted at them that he wished to cancel his order because the meat was non-halal but was told that it wasn’t possible, Zomato immediately replied that they will look into the matter. For those unaware, Halal meat is an explicitly religious practice that can be carried out only by a Muslim. Therefore, it isn’t a secular practice. It is an Islamic practice.
Pic 1: Zomato’s reply when a customer wants to cancel food because it’s non-Halal.
Pic 2: Zomato’s reply when a customer wants to cancel food because delivery boy is non-Hindu in shravan month.
— Ankur Singh (@iAnkurSingh) July 31, 2019
As expected, Zomato didn’t lecture the guy about its values or that food has no religion. The circumstances in the two cases were extremely similar. Both of them wanted to have their food cancelled because the conditions of the order violated their religious faith. However, Zomato chose to listen to the concerns of only its Muslim customer. To the Hindu customer, it showed the middle finger. I don’t think a company can make concessions to its customers based on halal meat and then claim food has no religion without coming across as an insufferable git.
There is another factor at play here. Liberals have been telling us all this while that boycotting businesses based on political ideology were perfectly acceptable. They have been doing it in the USA and in India as well, we have seen liberals calling for the boycott of ‘Sanghi’ businesses.
It’s no secret that Islam has explicitly political goals. Like other monotheist religions, it is as much of political ideology as it is religious. Therefore, an argument can be made that the boycott, in this case, is akin to boycotts based on political ideology, an idea that is endorsed by liberals.
As is evident, we are in dicey territory here. And companies waxing eloquence on their supposed moral superiority ought to concern us all. Because morality and politics are intricately intertwined. If by any chance, actual fascism becomes the order of the day, Zomato will then exalt the virtues of fascism too. If they are willing to incorporate halal meat into their business practices, it’s not a stretch to imagine that they will incorporate other problematic ideas as well.
Meanwhile, Zomato also offers its services in Turkey and Qatar. Homosexuals can be put to death by law in Qatar and yet, does Zomato offer moral sermons there? Somehow, I find that hard to imagine. Turkey is known for its support to Radical Islam and the de facto dictatorship of Erdogan. Does Zomato sermonize people there? I will be surprised if they do. Therefore, it’s utterly naive to believe that the food delivery service actually gives a damn about its values. It doesn’t have any.
Recently, Zomato had been receiving a lot of flak on social media due to its poor service. Many people have complained that they had ordered veg-food but instead, they were delivered non-veg food. They were even fined Rs. 55,0000 recently for delivering a chicken dish instead of the vegetarian food that was ordered. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to assert that they were receiving a lot of bad PR. Well, that has been taken care of. The meaningless tweet has swept all its failures under the rug.
Companies like Zomato are feeding the chaos that is threatening to take over the country. There is zero reasons to believe, not a single one, that they actually believe what they preach. Quite evidently, their sermons are not consistent with what they practice. They are using the divisions the country is grappling with to earn a few more bucks. It is morally reprehensible.
I don’t agree with what the customer tweeted at Zomato. But the reason why we are talking about him in the first place is because of Zomato. If the food delivery service had dealt with it professionally, social media today wouldn’t have seen a raging culture war with Jhatka and Halal trending at the top. This is entirely on Zomato and its founder, they chose to use a silly tweet as a PR exercise to hide their failures.