Indian Tech Leaders Rally Behind Ola’s Bhavish in Clash Against Microsoft & LinkedIn

Indian tech leaders stand behind Ola's Bhavish in his fight against Microsoft & LinkedIn

Key Points

  1. Bhavish Aggarwal, CEO of Ola, engages in a public dispute with Microsoft-owned LinkedIn over the deletion of his posts and alleged pressure to conform to mainstream narratives.
  2. Indian tech leaders, such as Sridhar Vembu of Zoho and Gaurav Munjal of Unacademy, express solidarity with Aggarwal, criticizing what they perceive as “woke imperialism” and coercive tactics by major tech platforms.
  3. Aggarwal takes decisive action by terminating Ola’s services with Microsoft Azure cloud and plans to migrate the workload to his own AI venture, Krutrim, demonstrating a commitment to autonomy and self-reliance.
  4. The conflict arises from a discussion on gender pronouns, with LinkedIn accused of deleting Aggarwal’s posts without prior notice, leading to accusations of censorship and stifling dissent.

In a dramatic showdown highlighting the tensions between Big Tech and Indian tech entrepreneurs, Ola’s Founder and CEO, Bhavish Aggarwal, has found solidarity among Indian tech industry leaders after a heated confrontation with Microsoft-owned LinkedIn.

Aggarwal took to social media to voice his frustration after LinkedIn reportedly deleted his posts and allegedly attempted to enforce conformity with mainstream narratives or risk being silenced. The incident has sparked a broader conversation about the power dynamics between global tech giants and Indian entrepreneurs.

Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho, a homegrown IT software company, echoed Aggarwal’s sentiments, characterizing the situation as “woke imperialism” and stressing the need for India to resist such pressures. “We in India have to strongly resist this woke imperialism,” Vembu emphasized, calling attention to what he sees as a form of ideological imposition masquerading as progressive politics.

Gaurav Munjal, CEO of edtech firm Unacademy, expressed his outrage, labeling LinkedIn’s actions as “f***** up” and adding his voice to the chorus of support for Aggarwal.

In response to the controversy, Aggarwal made a bold move, announcing the termination of Ola’s services with Microsoft Azure cloud and opting to migrate the company’s workload to its own AI venture, Krutrim. “We’ve decided to move our entire workload out of Azure to our own Krutrim cloud within the next week,” Aggarwal declared in a blog post, underscoring his commitment to autonomy and self-reliance.

The conflict between Aggarwal and LinkedIn ignited over a discussion on gender pronouns, with LinkedIn reportedly deleting Aggarwal’s posts without prior notification. This action triggered a backlash from Aggarwal and his supporters, who view it as an attempt to stifle dissent and enforce conformity to certain ideological norms.

Amidst the controversy, voices of support for Aggarwal have emerged from various quarters, with author Sahana Singh lauding his stance against what she perceives as coercive inclusivity tactics. Singh praised Aggarwal for his leadership and commitment to upholding principles of authenticity and adherence to Indian laws.

Aggarwal’s response to the incident reflects a broader sentiment among Indian entrepreneurs, emphasizing the importance of preserving digital sovereignty and advocating for the development of indigenous digital infrastructure. He has pledged to collaborate with the domestic developer community to create a social media framework guided by Indian laws, rejecting external dictates in favor of indigenous solutions.

The incident has also brought attention to the evolving meaning of the term “woke,” originally rooted in Black communities in the US but increasingly used in broader political discourse to critique perceived excesses of liberalism and progressivism.

As the clash between Aggarwal and LinkedIn unfolds, it underscores deeper questions about the influence of global tech giants in shaping online discourse and the resilience of Indian entrepreneurs in defending their autonomy and values in the digital age.

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