Ola CEO Bhavish Aggarwal Sparks Debate On Gender Pronouns, Calls It “Illness”

Ola Chief Bhavish Aggarwal has sparked a debate online after sharing his opinion on gender pronouns. The entrepreneur slammed non-binary pronouns and termed them as an “illness” from the Western countries. He shared a screenshot of LinkedIn’s AI bot which introduced him as “they” and “them” and criticised that the “pronouns illness” is “being perpetuated” in the country by municipal corporations.

The screenshot showed the AI bot’s reply to a query from the Ola CEO. It said, “Bhavish Aggarwal is the Co-Founder & CEO of Olacabs.com, a position they have held since September 2010. They have a background in technology and innovation, with previous roles at Microsoft Research India as an Assistant Researcher and Research Intern. Bhavish completed their B.Tech in Computer Science and Engineering from the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay. Their skills include Team Management, Market Research, Business Development, and more, contributing significantly to the technology, information and internet industry.”

Hoping that this “pronoun illness” doesn’t reach India.

Many “big city schools” in India are now teaching it to kids. Also see many CVs with pronouns these days. Need to know where to draw the line in following the west blindly! pic.twitter.com/q4CwiV6dkE

— Bhavish Aggarwal (@bhash) May 5, 2024

Circling the “they” and “theirs” in the AI bot’s reply, Mr Aggarwal wrote, “Hoping that this ‘pronoun illness’ doesn’t reach India. Many ‘big city schools’ in India are now teaching it to kids. Also see many CVs with pronouns these days. Need to know where to draw the line in following the west blindly! Screenshot is from LinkedIns AI bot. This ‘pronouns illness’ is being perpetuated in India by MNCs without us Indians even realising it.”

In a follow-up post, Mr Aggarwal said that most Indians have no clue about the “politics of pronoun illness” and said that it is “better to send this illness back. He wrote, “People do it because it’s become expected in our corporate culture, especially MNCs. Better to send this illness back where it came from. Our culture has always had respect for all. No need for new pronouns.”

Since being shared, the post has amassed over a million views and has drawn mixed reactions online. Many users also expressed their disappointment after reading Mr Aggarwal’s post.

“I disagree with you here. This doesn’t hurt anyone and do you really think having pronouns on CVs would impact your decision to hire an individual?” said a user.

A second X person said, “Respecting pronouns is a basic act of decency, not an illness.

“Using someone’s correct pronouns is the bare minimum, to respect LGBTQ+ folks. You’re tweeting this just a month before Pride Month is celebrated and I’d suggest you take this time to follow thought Queer leaders in India to understand their journey, struggles and needs,” remarked a user.

Another social media user commented, “Calling it as illness is way beneath you as an industry leader bhavish, yes it was wrong on LinkedIn part use non binary pronouns as default when you identify with he/him, although mocking the pronouns and how people chose to identify themselves is disgusting, DELETE”

Another added, “Why am I not surprised? Just disappointed in you. Such potential.”

A person commented, “You have violated me with your homophobia!”
“If you didn’t live under the rock, you’d know that our generation of Indians happily evolved long ago,” said another.

A commet read, “It has reached… backed by MNCs and Social Media! Infact in some companies not having a pronoun in your signature or internal profile can get you sidelined for promotions.”

A person also wrote, “Thank god. There is hope. A CEO and influencer speaking against this illness.”

“Totally agree. We cannot import it when we have real issues on the ground. But this is up to the MNCs and government of India. Employees will be forced to follow it up,” stated a person.

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