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Zomato’s sensationalism and liberal media appreciation

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

“In food-delivery controversy start-up Zomato won over many internet users on Wednesday (31st July)” — a statement from print media that writes —- for the thousands of retweets and likes it (Zomato) got for its iconic Tweet. The famous tweet of Zomato is as follows : “Food doesn’t have a religion. It is a religion.” Oh! That’s how one should sense? Let’s analyse. The first part of the tweet: ‘Food doesn’t have a religion’- is okay. That means, food has no narrow boundaries unlike a religion which has with its set-rules. All humans need food to eat, so as to survive. Wherever, they get food of their choice (if hungry) they eat. After all, why do people work? If not for having two square meals. For the poor, even that’s also a dream!

The later part of the tweet is controversial- ‘It (food) is a religion’ – this is dragging ‘food’ into a narrow confine of religion. What kind of religion is food for someone to practice? Perhaps, food is religion for the start up firm Zomato, for, they eke out their living out of profits they get from the sale of food. So, to them, ‘food is God’ and that’s the religion.

Jumping of Omar Abdullah into the controversy, has definitely a religious and political angle. He says in his tweet:@ZomatoIN just delivers the food ordered by the customer, it doesn’t make choices for them…’ Poor Omar Abdullah, what kind of Muslim is he? Feeling sorry. Zomato sells halal meat entirely to cater Muslims. It’s a choice Zomato has made.

Not only Zomato, all over the world, surprisingly, even in secular West-European countries, the restaurants nowadays are placing billboard highlighting that ‘Halal meat’ is available. For, all businesses, use strategies for their benefit. For them, customer is paramount. Regarding halal meat, when Zomato was questioned, the clarification it gave was so unconvincing. It said: “Halal tag is a result of restaurants seeking that distinction (from other meat)”. Amusing! That “distinction” from the other meat is needed for Muslims, not for others. Other than halal meat, any meat is a taboo for them. As far as other are concerned, any cooked meat is fine. They never ask whether it’s halal meat or not. Zomato has the cheek to cover up. When asked the pointed question on halal, it says that for ‘ distinction’ as if majority Indians were asking for it.

It goes without saying, only halal meat is to be eaten by Muslims. They don’t eat the meat of an already dead animal. Where does this practice fit in Zomato’s policy of ‘food is religion?’ Now conclusively, one can draw, Earthly Religions control food, not the other way round. The mainstream English channels, waiting for an opportunity like this, lapped up the entire episode, to portray as some kind of intolerance in the society. They have also their hidden agenda to bait the BJP-led NDA, as if, the earlier UPA Government was a paragon of secular-virtues! These elite media persons, mostly agnostic, yet latch on to minority religious values! They leave no stone unturned to magnify petty things of ‘Zomato kind’ and appreciating what Zomato tweeted to be a revelation of higher order! Their superficial thinking is pathetic. Their specious arguments have no takers in the present India.

The controversy and the sides taken wouldn’t have arisen, had the customer ordered the food- a Hindu and had the delivery boy been not a Muslim. And also, of course, the person Amit Shukla’s objection to the delivery boy. Amit Shukla later said that there was ‘no religious angle … it Saawan and we have religious faith’. His claim would not hold water in a secular world. People go to many restaurants when they go out. Nobody knows who cooks the food in the kitchen. Though mechanised, the handlers of food are from various religions. No one feels the practice wrong as all are humans. It is moral and ethical to treat all equally.

The only thing is, the food prepared and person who delivers have to maintain hygiene. All food chains of fame ensure to that. If it’s Saawan or on any sacred/holy day, the preparation of food has to be at home. One cannot dictate, one’s preferential choice to hotels or restaurants or food joints, as they cook, serve and deliver through persons they select and employ . Moreover, a Hindu has to abide by – Om Sahana Bavatu, Sahanau Bhunaktu, Saha Viryam Karavavahai. Tejas Vinaa Vidhitamasthu, Maa Vidvishaa Vahai- sloka. The sloka means for togetherness: Let’s live harmoniously together, eat together, strengthen together, let us not bear ill-will against each other. Though tough to practice in world of contradictions, one has to be accommodative.

In any case, Deepinder Goyal, founder Zomato tweets, “ We are proud of the idea of India….We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values” is debatable. His praise of India is understandable, however, his praise of “our values” (Zomato’s values) goes a bit overboard. If he does business in any gulf country or Saudi Arabia or neighbouring Pakistan, he has to follow the values of those countries, that is, precisely, according to their religion. The talk of, ‘food has no religion’ blah blah, won’t work there. It’s India that is giving this freedom to follow the values that Zomato believes in.

Hence, magnifying one-off incidents should be stopped by media. Certainly Zomato’s perceived feeling of an upholder of secular values, should not embolden the start-up company to make further statements.

Customer who wants ‘non-Hindu’ food delivery boy changed gets biting reply

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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