Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal Acts Against Western Tech Giants, Ends Ties with Microsoft’s Azure

Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal Acts Against Western Tech Giants, Ends Ties with Microsoft's Azure

Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal Acts Against Western Tech Giants, Ends Ties with Microsoft's Azure

Share This News

He said, “They will bully us into agreeing with them or cancel us out. And if they can do this to me, I’m sure the average user stands no chance.”

15 May 2024

By Ishika Kumar

In a bold and controversial move that has sparked widespread debate, Bhavish Aggarwal, the co-founder and CEO of Ola, one of India’s leading ride-hailing online platforms, has announced the termination of the company’s association with Microsoft’s cloud service Azure. 

The decision comes in the wake of Aggarwal’s vocal opposition to what he terms as “pronoun illness” – according to Aggarwal, it is a trend of emphasising gender inclusivity propagated by Western tech giants like LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft.

A Cultural Clash: Why Ola is Parting Ways with Azure

Aggarwal’s discontent stems from the imposition of Western ideologies, such as the emphasis on gender pronouns, onto the Indian tech landscape. He argues that India’s rich cultural heritage does not necessitate adherence to Western notions of inclusivity, especially when it comes to language and identity. His stance gained momentum from his side after LinkedIn removed his post discussing pronouns, citing violations of community guidelines.

In a long post, Aggarwal said, “The pronoun issue I wrote about is a woke political ideology of entitlement which doesn’t belong in India. I wouldn’t have waded into this debate, but LinkedIn has presumed Indians need to have pronouns in our life, and that we can’t criticise it.” He also added, “They will bully us into agreeing with them or cancel us out. 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 system has a major impact on my business if it grows an entitlement mindset in our professional lives and I will fight it.”

The Birth of Krutrim: Ola’s Response to So-Called Western Cultural Imposition

In response to what he perceives as cultural imperialism, Aggarwal has launched Krutrim, an indigenous cloud platform aimed at providing high-performance computing solutions, replacing relations with LinkedIn AI. The move reflects Aggarwal’s commitment to fostering a tech ecosystem that is rooted in Indian values and free from external influences like conforming to gender-neutral pronouns, according to Aggarwal.

Aggarwal’s Message: Building Indian Tech for Indian Values

Expressing his concerns about the dominance of Western tech giants in shaping India’s overall digital landscape, Aggarwal advocates for the development of homegrown tech platforms. He believes that reliance on foreign technologies not only compromises India’s sovereignty but also undermines its cultural identity. By championing initiatives like Krutrim, Aggarwal aims to empower Indian developers and entrepreneurs to create solutions tailored to local needs and local mindsets.

He stated that DPIs (Digital Payment Index) like UPI, ONDC, Aadhaar, etc are a distinctly Indian concept and are even more crucial in the realm of social media. He emphasised that the sole “community guidelines” should align with Indian law. He argued against corporate entities having the authority to dictate bans, advocating for creators to own their data instead of corporations profiting from it while imposing “community guidelines” upon users.

Consequently, he remarked, “Since LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft and Ola is a significant client of Azure, we’ve opted to transfer our entire workload from Azure to our own indigenous cloud platform within the upcoming week. This transition poses a challenge, familiar to all developers, but my team is enthusiastic about the endeavour.”

Concluding his statement, Aggarwal announced, “Any developer interested in migrating from Azure will receive a full year of complimentary cloud usage, provided they abstain from returning to Azure thereafter!”

It’s important to highlight that Aggarwal’s stance isn’t against gender inclusivity; rather, he underscores that India doesn’t require instruction from Western corporations on inclusivity.

As a representation of Indian values, Aggarwal affirmed, “Ola remains committed to genuine diversity initiatives. We operate one of the largest WOMEN-ONLY automotive plants. This isn’t a mere fraction or a segment; it encompasses the entire plant! Presently accommodating nearly 5000 women, this number is projected to grow into tens of thousands in the foreseeable future.”

The Economic Impact

While Ola’s decision to sever ties with Azure may pose initial challenges, including a potential loss of revenue estimated at over Rs 100 crores, Aggarwal remains undeterred. He is confident that the long-term benefits of investing in indigenous technologies will far outweigh any short-term setbacks and long-term relations with Western technological initiatives. Moreover, Ola’s offer of free cloud usage to developers transitioning from Azure underscores its commitment to fostering a vibrant ecosystem of Indian tech innovation.

The Road Ahead: Navigating Challenges and Embracing Independence

As Ola embarks on its journey towards technological self-reliance, Aggarwal’s vision for an India-centric tech ecosystem faces numerous obstacles. However, with the support of like-minded individuals and organisations, he remains steadfast in his resolve to challenge the hegemony of Western tech giants and champion the cause of Indian technological sovereignty.

In a rapidly evolving digital landscape, Bhavish Aggarwal’s decision to distance Ola from Microsoft’s Azure underscores the complex interplay between technology, culture and identity. As India grapples with the forces of globalisation, Aggarwal’s advocacy for indigenous innovation serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of preserving cultural autonomy in the digital age.