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In Zomato episode, CEO Deepinder Goyal comes off as a vulture who makes money from conflict

The liberals supporting Zomato come off as two-faced opportunists too.

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What do we make of the latest Zomato controversy where a certain Amit Shukla declined to take delivery of food, because the delivery person was Muslim and Zomato decided to blow it up for some free publicity? The answers aren’t easy because they end up damning everyone involved.

Food is an intensely personal choice, be it on religious, ethical or health grounds. In that sense, food is an expression of oneself, be it regional or national cuisine, of ingredients, of techniques or indeed of dietary choices.

These religious dietary choices, in fact, have driven an immense creativity and diversity of food. For example, it is the “widow cooking” of Bengal that has given rise to delightful dishes like onion and garlic-free mutton and fish curries labelled “niramish” or “vegetarian”. It was Jewish dietary laws that forbade the use of the northern European staple fat – pig lard – which led to the fattening of geese to produce the delightful foie gras, and the ban on pork that led to the invention of luscious fatty beef pastrami. Bizarrely, and contrary to sociological theory, food exclusion creates a pleasant diversity.

Also read: Zomato App gets 1-star ratings as backlash for ‘being biased against Hindus’

Religious cuisines & strict laws

However, what happens when your religious diet states that kosher food can only be prepared or supervised by a certain religious person?

Again, this part is legitimate mostly because religious cuisines have strict laws on how to prepare food. The first part is about piety, where food is seen as an offering to the gods. Can such an offering be made by people who are not pious – for example, how will the “sacrifice” be a “sacrifice” if it’s done by an atheist?

The second part is expertise: Kashrut, for example, is notoriously complicated and requires a significant level of Jewish canonical knowledge. Similarly, Tamil-Brahmin food has several rules that require the cook to bathe, say certain prayers, cook in a specified manner (the preparation area has to be completely different from where used dishes are washed) etc. etc. As such, the rule here is – would you accept having a tumour in your brain operated on by a chiropractor just because they’re technically “all people”?

This brings us to the third issue, which is food delivery, and this is where things start getting a bit more complicated, for the simple reason that food delivery is a modern phenomenon. Technically, Kashrut, for example, must also be served by a Jew. However, the canonical law states that because of modern techniques like plastic packaging etc., the serving can be done by a non-Jew as long as the preparation and packaging is done by a Jew. Yet again, because Hinduism doesn’t have a strict codification or arbitration of these rules to suit modern realities, each person interprets them differently.

Why Amit Shukla is a bigot

This is where the case of Amit Shukla comes in and why he is a bigot. For starters, he did not care who had prepared the food or who had packed it. All he cared about was the fact that the delivery boy was Muslim. This is why his explanations as to this being the month of shravan seem like past-facto rationalisation.

This is also why Zomato’s initial response – cancelling the order and still charging him as the delivery boy had collected the food – was correct. In fact, Zomato has several options to cater to religious sensitivities. It has a button to show vegetarian-only options, it has an option for showing halal certification, and it has a special requests box where one can make special requests like “please ensure the delivery boy is Hindu as this is shravan”. Whether Zomato would’ve conceded to his request or not is now academic, but technically speaking, Amit Shukla was seeking to add caveats to the order post the completion of the contract.

Also read: Customer cancels Zomato order over Muslim delivery boy, company’s reply wins internet

Zomato’s cheap publicity trick

Where Zomato screwed up was that all its actions thereafter reeked of cheap publicity and inciting communalism.

First, it decided to virtue signal about ‘food having no religion’ – a blatant falsehood given the halal and vegetarian options it offers. Of course, given the blatant bigotry of Shukla’s tweet, why Zomato chose to blow it up is anybody’s guess, but we can all agree that one factor was some cheap free publicity.

To cap it, Zomato’s CEO Deepinder Goyal decided to virtue signal some more, positing himself as some bulwark against bigotry. Again, one is hard pressed to find any motive save cheap publicity. The Madhya Pradesh police has taken suo-moto cognisance of Amit Shukla’s tweets and may possibly file a 153A/295A case against him.

I oppose this. Unless one actively incites violence, bigots have a right to their bigotry. However, if one chooses to proceed against Amit Shukla, it is equally necessary for the police to file cases under IPC Sections 153A & 295A against both Zomato and Deepinder Goyal as they deliberately chose to inflame a situation, amplifying hatred to their lakhs of followers, with a deliberate intent for publicity.

Who is worse?

It is this possibly deliberate refusal to understand the first principles of policy that makes the liberals supporting Zomato come off as two-faced opportunists. They remain quiet on government money funding waqfs, who stick to their dietary practices, but want ISKCON-run NGO to change its dietary practices for mid-day meals because it receives government money. They also want Air India, a government entity, to reverse its vegetarian-on-domestic flights policy, despite knowing fully well that vegetarian food will have the least overhead cost.

Basically, personal beliefs, economics, policy and legal precedent should all cater to the liberals’ whims and fancies. That said, let us be clear they are right that Amit Shukla is a badly educated bigot. But by that same standard, Deepinder Goyal, allegedly an “IIT graduate” is something far, far, worse; a vulture, who is the peacetime version of a war profiteer who knowingly and deliberately makes money off conflict.

Also read: Zomato wants to close India’s gender pay gap, one of the worst in the world

The author is a senior fellow at the Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies. He tweets @iyervval. Views are personal.

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  1. The author is equivocating, using the oldest trick of saying a wrong as wrong to gain credibility and then terming it’s right reaction as again wrong.
    Considering whatever Amit Shukla did, never once the author questions why he put the incident on Twitter in this long article
    Yet he questions Zomato response in the same breath
    The rest of misinterpretation regarding halal meat and wakf etc is usual tropes that further reveal author as just another bigot trying to masquerade his bigotry as reasonableness.

  2. Say what???


    Yet-another article by self-styled, ‘Conservadick’ “atheist” to act as a deterrent to their CD — a comfort-diet, if you will. Other commenters have already done enough for me to expose the intellect that went into composing this article. And hence, there’s nothing much for me to add.
    Except: Even if we assume the premise as nothing-but-true [for argument’s sake], {Cough} [Free-Market] Capitalism {/Cough}? Or once again/predictably as same as egg-hatching, Capitalism be damned if it gets in the way of your social conduct?

  3. Don’t really want to add to this really stupid controversy. But just wondered: how would anyone even verify the religious beliefs of the person who grew the food, handled it, brought it to the market and cooked it!

  4. A stupid article. What happens if other communities also start similar acts. I think the guy from Jabalpur has tried to get cheap publicity

    • Justifying untouchability based on Halal and Kosher is moronic. Muslims eat vegetarian food from Hindu hotels. Or even meat from Hindu hotels slaughtered Halal.

  5. Zomato has done exactly what was necessary. I also would exactly what is necessary, that is not to waste time in reading the author of this article. Why was he put into jail, does anyone remember?

  6. The case you make with Jewish cuisine, halal and vegetarianism is of religion putting restrictions/conditions on food. Food itself has no religion. I do agree that Shukla shouldn’t be charged since its a personal preference. So i agree with Zomato on this. Obviously they’re gonna milk this to their heart’s content. But i can’t blame them. This opportunity fell into their laps

  7. I agree with the article to the extent that Zomato could and should have handled this in an entirely professional manner without taking sides. Do their rules have provisions for acceding to the request made by the customer? If no then the polite answer should just have been – “No sir, we are sorry our rules do not make it possible for us to accommodate your request and moreover, the food has already been prepared and dispatched so we can’t refund”. End of story. But the story did not end there, Mr Customer felt that he had been wronged and so he escalated the issue by going on Twitter. We understand that he is a bigot and being a bigot, he knows no better. However once it was on Twitter, Zomato had to explain their POV but they could have done so professionally without taking sides in a religious/moral debate and definitely the CEO has no business climbing on his high horse and moralising. He is a business leader and not a politician or a social reformer, why did he feel compelled to jump into a religious/moral debate is a mystery.

    • Ya know what you’re doing here.

      Perhaps you’re not gonna like it.

      But you’re literally asking Zomato® and its management to conform to the neo-definition of ‘political correctness’.

  8. What a joke! If Zomato had made a private conversation with it’s customer public on this topic, that is cheap publicity. The gentleman bigot had come public with his bigotry on Twitter without any provocation and the author questions Zomato here? What twisted logic is that! The author just reveals his biases, why did The Print editorial team even let this through? There is a huge difference in giving a different perspective and giving an evil spin to the topic. Sadly the author is no different than the thousands of hordes of bigots 1 starring and abusing Zomato and Uber on social media.

  9. ZOMATO is getting free publicity out of this incident. But this is only cheap publicity and temporary and bad in taste. Come ZOMATO will pay dearly for it. After all, nowadays everyone started carrying secular flag and started preaching.

      • I for one, am immensely happy — that’s the case.

        Because it helps significantly to dispel the ground-reality that India’s a “Third World”, after all.

    • Womp, womp indeed!

      Because if your wet dream is borne out — then it’ll only help strengthen the argument that India’s steadily on its way to “Turd World”!

  10. Wow! I’m very clear that I’m not going to read ‘The Print’ articles any more. Heights of irritation reading this biased article!

  11. habhizomato mitra-aiyer is behaving like great khangressi chaplus MANI AIYER. attention seeking disorder is the biggest disease same like halala-addiction.

    • Bwahahaha!

      You’re “@NAMO_Sarkaar”‘s mind-bro but your retort to this musings of “atheist”…

      …Mr Iyerval-Mitra’s musings is simply, outrageous! 😂😂😂😂😂

  12. Remember what the author did to a 1000 year old civilisation a year back and what the police and the state did to him

  13. What a pathetic peace of writing. Instead of appreciating a company for standing up to bigotry this writer assumes that they are looking for cheap publicity. I don’t don’t understand why people cannot accept any good on face value. Really pissed with the print for letting such a piece through its editorial staff

  14. Agree with the author take on the conduct of all parties involved. Food definitely has religion . And zomato did try to market the controversy for free marketing.

  15. “Personal beliefs, economics, policy and legal precedent catering to liberals’ whims and fancies” is a routine experience brought by secular media. Double standards, cooking false stories and using quotes of non-Indian authors to justify their claims are normal tools for so called liberals who think their views should supersede any other opposing view. Amit Shukla would not have imagined that an army of liberal vultures will tear him apart as except liberals nobody should have choice not approved by them.

    • Duh…!


      First of all: Pooja tell, how’s your “non-Indian authors” point relevant? Sounds like an argumentum ad verecundiam to me. Better defend.

  16. I think the only person looking for cheap publicity here is the author of this article. Standing up for nothing other than self interest of getting views and comments on his article.

  17. It is not a “deliberate attempt at publicity” because CEO Goyal was not even remotely responsible for precipitating this situation. If a wrong is committed, and if someone stands up to it, then he cannot be accused of “showing off”.

  18. I wonder how this is a ‘Cheap publiclity trick’. This kind of narrative will stop influencial people from speaking their mind, effectively gagging them.
    Would you make a similar accusation if an airline stands up to a Jewish flight attendant if a Muslim person refuses to board a flight and demands a return if the flight attendant is a Jew? Would you then say that how is it the airline is serving Kosher food if it is religion neutral?

    • for a Jewish flight attendant* FTFY ☺️

      #Slayer 👍🏾👍🏾👍🏾 👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾👏🏾

  19. Chance for new a “Start Up”? Shudh – Shakahari Bhojan, right from cooking to delivery? LOL. Dont we have Pure Vegeteranian Housing Societies? Why? There are “No Muslims” Housing Societies too. And like sharuk khan says for Big Basket that their stuff is straight from Farm. The new Start Up could say that their indredients are also purchased directly from a High Class Hindu Farmer – USP. Pathetic! Boss, lets educate our kids, never in a religious school.

  20. Nice analysis and a very balanced view. As much Amit Shukla was wrong, Depender Goyal playing to secular card. If Amit Shukla wanted to follow his Shravan month religious practice he should got the food from a known source following such practice or get it cooked at home rather than going to large mandi like Zomato to deliver with his choice of logistic. Depender is much worse. I am 100% sure he will loose valuable customer for his uttering to get cheap publicity.

    • 1. Being secular is the right thing to do. Always was, always will be. Being a bigot is not.

      2. There are very few Indian businessmen who stand up for their employees. Let’s applaud the few who do.

      May Deepinder’s tribe increase.

      • You don’t need to teach me your secularism. For me, I look at the issue both ways. Never go by closed eyes of only secularism with selective amnesia. When both are wrong, I will say that boldly, rather than being in the sham of secularism.

        • There is no such thing as ,”my” secularism or,”your” secularism. There is only one kind. One should have the moral courage to call out the shaming of what is clearly an act of bigotry instead of trying to placate all sides under the cover of meaningless phrases like, ” selective amnesia”. In this incident one side is clearly in the wrong. But then, people with eyes deliberately shut will not see.

        • @SunderV: Ahh…

          So it’s “both side-ism” yet-again!

          There are “fine people on both sides”, indeed! Glad that a “persecuted” Majoritarian like you got some validation, outside of social-media.

  21. I am apalled , this nitpicking about publcity gained by Zomato’s Goyal . The argument on offer here about Tamil brahmins is like , hmm , who brahmins yaar evere? what is sacrosanct about brahminical rituals , my ancestor were forced to walk around naked for these twits rituals .
    Bigotry is ok for a bigot , oh is it ? When you look at how the food habits of the minorities are treated in our country , and then finding faults for publicising opposition to bigotry , well , I think we need another ‘periyar’.

  22. Iyer’s article reeks of the same vulgar, vulture like attitude. The whole attempt seems to be to equate both actions, of the order placer and Zomato, to give some sort of legitimacy to this obnoxious behaviour by the customer. We have enough problems in anganwadis where upper castes refuse to consume food prepared by the so called low castes. People like Iyer will threaten to prosecute the lower castes for daring to complain against the upper castes, while conveniently shedding crocodile tears.

  23. Using every minute twist and turn possible, just in order to generate revenue out of the standard business model of chaos.

    I beleive it was hyped much more than he attention it needed, and not to be disrespectful but even this article from The Print seems to just add to the platter.

    By the way, I too favored Zomato (inclusive of the CEO) as compared to the person Amit Shukla. Amit is wrong at quite a fundamental level. While Zomato had sentiment of virtue favoring them. Can’t blame much if they use it for a little positive reinforcement to their public image.

    Thanks and Regards

  24. I think what comes out of the article is your bigoted views about food, religion and personal choice.
    Whereas Zomato CEO wins the battle of wits as well as smart marketing strategy to earn more customers.

    • Awwww…

      Glad that you got validation outside of social-media, and no: It wasn’t a commenting-board!

  25. We aren’t sorry to lose any business that comes in the way of our values … That sounds pretty decent to me. Almost like Moses on the Mount. What if, in the times of Sengar, political parties were to declare, We aren’t sorry to lose any votes that come in the way of our values.

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