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HomeOpinionsSattvic Aahar adheres to human values, Zomato the preacher does not

Sattvic Aahar adheres to human values, Zomato the preacher does not

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Millennial business models want to serve a purpose. If there is anything more they want, it is for you to think that they want to serve a purpose. It is safe to say that many businesses today subtly use post-truth to their advantage, striking a chord with the consumer with seemingly philanthropic “business values”, and tend to put the onus for any deception on consumerism. But all that is known. After all, it is a part of the great game of money-making and brand-building. “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.” This tweet by Deepinder Goyal, founder of food-delivery app Zomato, can almost have a consumer believe that Zomato has always adhered to the food safety act. But in fact it is known to have violated the norms by partnering with unhygienic restaurants running without license.

Goyal’s statement followed a tweet by Zomato India, “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.” This was Zomato India’s reply to a tweet that said, “Just cancelled an order on @ZomatoIN. They allocated a non-Hindu rider for my food. They said they can’t change rider and can’t refund on cancellation. I said you can’t force me to take a delivery I don’t want. Don’t refund just cancel.” The tweet was by a Pandit Amit Shukla from MP’s Jabalpur, who said that he wanted a Hindu delivery boy because he was observing a fast.

While the mainstream media drooled over Zomato’s “epic” and “classy” reply to the consumer, the other end of the Twitterati spectrum called out its hypocrisy. Here’s why. In a separate case of consumer complaint on Twitter in May where a Muslim man complained that Zomato refused to cancel his order because it was non-halal, it replied the following, “Hi Wajid! That’s not how we wanted your experience to be. Kindly share your order number so that we could look into this.” Zomato was quick to issue a clarification, a copy of which is attached below, on how this case is different.

What it conveniently failed to recognize is that religion is the gist of the matter here wherein Zomato has tried to appear as a self-proclaimed savior; a business that distributes stale, overheated food drowned in an ocean of refined oil from unlicensed, unclean restaurants for inflated prices while preaching to the world that food is a religion. As enlightening – although majorly flawed – this observation is I would appreciate for Zomato to shed some light on why its religion doesn’t speak of food wastage even as lakhs of desperate poor get eaten up by the gut-wrenching hunger in their stomach. To call out someone for their religious bias is one thing. But to preach is another thing for a business that presents and serves food as if it is meant to satiate temptation. The hypocrisy thereby lies in preaching of values that Zomato never have and never will practice because it is here for the money, even if it has to succumb to political correctness for it. True religion is what Akshay Patra has been practicing which the new kid on the block will never have the decency to learn from.

A similar example of hypocrisy was set by Al Jazeera English, an English-language Qatari news channel, when it tweeted a 3-minute-long investigative video on the consumption of dog meat in South Korea. The tweet said, “In South Korea, nearly 2 million dogs are eaten every year. @AJ101East investigates the billion-dollar business.”

However journalistic the investigation is, it can’t be ignored that it’s also coming from a people who consume different kinds of animals, with the exception of pork (pig). Will Al Jazeera document the slaughter and consumption of varieties of animal meat in the Middle East or their home country Qatar for that matter? We know the answer to that.

Nicolas Boileau-Despreaux, a 17th century French poet once said, “Greatest fools are the most often satisfied.” Ask yourself, “Are you as a principled Hindu satisfied with what you are consuming and how? Shukla’s case shows how despite observing a fast – a practice which requires to abstain oneself from overeating and refined food for the purpose of physical and spiritual cleansing – many choose to order from a food app. One would have to be delusional to think that such food apps – a bog of leisure and temptation – would care enough to notice what oil is being used, how fresh and freshly cut is the raw material that is being cooked, and how much cleanliness is being adhered to while cooking and carrying the food.

The principles of Mitahara in Hatha Yoga Pradipika have impressed upon not only the five Ws and one H of eating. They go on to elaborate the effect of the attitude of the person on the food while preparing and serving it. The ethics of food consumption in many such Hindu scriptures, if studied carefully, have been derived in tandem with the natural environment that exists outside and one that exists within our bodies. Mitahara, meaning moderate and mindful eating, is a central subject in the discipline of yoga and prescribes the steps that lead to the physical and mental state of fasting. What good then will the practice of fasting do if one has to rely on impure kitchens for sattvic ahar without any mindfulness of what process the food to be consumed has gone through and in what state of mind it was prepared?

Basic human necessities which have been turned into profit-making machines are not only making us physically unhealthy but mentally too. The values that pastor Zomato and the like boast of convince us that we need to order food so as to save time, “live to eat” has become the new cool Instagram bio, taste and appearance of the food has become the guiding factor for what and how much we should eat and for some reason the alien restaurant and food delivery staff will care you and your food more than yourself. What’s feasible? Expecting for a hypocrite business to serve you food doing it yourself by following the wholesome yogic principles of ahar?

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