May 24, 2024

“We don’t think the cost of making an electric mobike will have a big gap with ICE mobikes,” Bhavish Aggarwal Founder and CEO, Ola Electric and Ola Cabs

Ola founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Bhavish Aggarwal said the mobility company has decided to move the entire workload out of tech giant Microsoft’s cloud computing platform Azure to the company’s Krutrim cloud within the next week.

The move comes after Aggarwal on Thursday criticised Microsoft-owned employment-focused social media platform LinkedIn for removing his post on pronoun illness, calling out the platform for imposing political ideology. He emphasised the need for India to develop its own tech and AI.

“Since LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft and Ola is a big customer of Azure, we’ve decided to move our entire workload out of Azure to our own Krutrim cloud within the next week. It is a challenge as all developers know, but my team is so charged up about doing this,” said Aggarwal, in a company blog post. 

“Any other developer who wants to move out of Azure, we will offer a full year worth of free cloud usage. As long as you don’t go back to Azure after that ! Mail us on [email protected]. Offer is perpetually open,” he said.

The conflict started earlier this week when LinkedIn’s AI referred to Aggarwal using “they” instead of “he” pronoun, prompting him to question the AI’s neutrality and accusing the platform of pushing a political agenda.

“Dear LinkedIn, this post of mine was about YOUR AI imposing a political ideology on Indian users that’s unsafe, sinister. Rich of you to call my post unsafe! This is exactly why we need to build own tech and AI in India. Else we’ll just be pawns in others political objectives,” posted Aggarwal on May 09, 2024 on X (formerly Twitter). He also shared a screenshot of LinkedIn’s notification that cited a violation of their “Professional Community Policies” as the reason for the removal.  

Aggarwal has been a vocal advocate for developing indigenous technology. In the blog, he said that while one can’t do anything about LinkedIn’s monopoly overnight, he is making a commitment to work with the Indian developer community to build a DPI (digital public infrastructure) social media framework.

“DPIs like UPI, ONDC, Aadhaar etc are a uniquely Indian idea and is even more needed in the world of social media. The only “community guidelines” should be the Indian law. No corporate person should be able to decide what will be banned. Data should be owned by the creators instead of being owned by the corporates who make money using our data and then lecture us on “community guidelines,” said Aggarwal.

As an Indian institution, Aggarwal said Ola is for genuine actions on diversity. He said the company runs one of the largest women-only automotive plant. Almost 5,000 women now and plan is to grow to tens of thousands in the coming years. 

“And regarding gender inclusivity, we don’t need lectures from western companies on how to be inclusive. Our culture didn’t need pronouns to be inclusive for thousands of years. On a personal note, I had visited Ayodhya last year and learnt about how transgenders had been accorded special respect in our culture from ancient times,” said Aggarwal.

On the other hand, Aggarwal said the pronouns issue he wrote about is a woke political ideology of entitlement which doesn’t belong in India. “I wouldn’t have waded into this debate, but clearly Linkedin has presumed Indians need to have pronouns in our life, and that we can’t criticise it. They will bully us into agreeing with them or cancel us out,” said Aggarwal. “And if they can do this to me, I’m sure the average user stands no chance. As a founder and CEO, this Western DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) system has a major impact on my business if it grows an entitlement mindset in our professional lives and I will fight it.”


He further said: “This situation brings me to the need for us to build our own Indian tech platforms. I’m not against global tech companies. But as an Indian citizen, I feel concerned that my life will be governed by western Big Tech monopolies and we will be culturally subsumed as the above experience shows,” said Aggarwal. “This is not about Ola or any of my companies. Ola is too small to make any impact against this. I want to confront this forced ideology as a free-thinking Indian and do what I can in my capacity. So here are the actions I’m taking. Putting my money where my mouth is.”

First Published: May 11 2024 | 5:38 PM IST