सर्वनाम के साथ भाविश अग्रवाल का मुद्दा: ओला सीईओ को भाषा और अधिकारों के बारे में क्यों पढ़ना चाहिए

सर्वनाम के साथ भाविश अग्रवाल का मुद्दा: ओला सीईओ को भाषा और अधिकारों के बारे में क्यों पढ़ना चाहिए

Bhavish Aggarwal’s issue with pronouns: Why Ola CEO should read up on language & rights

Bhavish Aggarwal criticizes LinkedIn for removing post on gender-neutral pronouns, sparking debate on linguistic inclusivity and cultural conservatism.

  • Business
  • 45
  • 11, May, 2024
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Sampda Gupta
  • @SampdaGupta

Bhavish Aggarwal’s issue with pronouns: Why Ola CEO should read up on language & rights

Bhavish Aggarwal, the founder and CEO of Ola, found himself embroiled in controversy following his recent clash with LinkedIn over a post discussing gender-neutral pronouns. The incident not only ignited a debate about linguistic inclusivity but also spotlighted broader societal attitudes towards gender identity and cultural conservatism. Aggarwal's LinkedIn post, which referred to gender-neutral pronouns like 'they/them' as an "illness," was swiftly removed by the platform's AI-powered moderation system. This action triggered Aggarwal to accuse LinkedIn's chatbot of imposing a political ideology on Indian users, describing it as both "unsafe and sinister." Gender-neutral pronouns, such as 'they/them', have emerged as a crucial aspect of inclusive language, acknowledging the diverse spectrum of gender identities beyond traditional binary categories. However, Aggarwal's response underscored a deeper resistance to linguistic evolution and social progress. The controversy surrounding Aggarwal's post raises fundamental questions about the nature of language, identity, and societal acceptance. While some may view linguistic shifts as superficial or unnecessary, they are inherently linked to broader movements for social justice and inclusivity. In understanding Aggarwal's objection to gender-neutral pronouns, it's essential to grasp the historical context and linguistic nuances surrounding these terms. Contrary to Aggarwal's assertion that the usage of singular 'they/them' pronouns is a recent phenomenon, it has deep roots in the English language dating back centuries. Historical texts, including works by renowned authors like Geoffrey Chaucer, William Shakespeare, and Jane Austen, feature instances of singular 'they/them' usage. These examples illustrate that gender-neutral language is not a modern invention but rather a longstanding feature of English literature. Moreover, the resistance to gender-neutral pronouns mirrors broader debates within linguistic circles about prescriptive versus descriptive grammar. While some may advocate for rigid adherence to grammatical rules, others recognize language's fluidity and adaptability to reflect societal changes.

Aggarwal's critique of gender-neutral pronouns also intersects with broader cultural and political dynamics, both in India and globally. The rise of conservative ideologies, often rooted in traditional gender norms and religious beliefs, has fueled resistance to progressive social movements, including LGBTQIA+ rights. Critics of gender-neutral pronouns frequently rely on outdated scientific understandings of gender, emphasizing binary distinctions based on biological sex. However, contemporary understandings of gender recognize its complexity and fluidity, challenging rigid categorizations. In India, Aggarwal's resistance to gender-neutral pronouns reflects broader tensions between tradition and progress, particularly within the context of cultural conservatism and nationalist rhetoric. The influence of Western conservative narratives, coupled with concerns about cultural imperialism, shapes attitudes towards linguistic and social change. Aggarwal's assertion that gender-neutral pronouns are a Western import overlooks the global nature of LGBTQIA+ activism and the universality of struggles for recognition and acceptance. While India has its unique socio-cultural context, issues of gender identity and expression are fundamentally human experiences transcending geographical boundaries.

The removal of Aggarwal's post by LinkedIn further underscores the complexities of moderating online discourse and navigating cultural sensitivities. While platforms like LinkedIn aim to foster professional networking and dialogue, they must grapple with diverse viewpoints and societal expectations. Aggarwal's subsequent criticism of LinkedIn's moderation policies and his advocacy for building indigenous AI technologies reflect broader concerns about digital sovereignty and cultural autonomy. As India seeks to assert its technological prowess on the global stage, questions about data privacy, content moderation, and cultural representation become increasingly salient. Amidst the controversy, it's crucial to center the voices and experiences of gender minorities who often bear the brunt of linguistic discrimination and social marginalization. For many individuals, gender-neutral pronouns are not just grammatical constructs but affirmations of their identities and lived experiences. As society continues to grapple with questions of identity, inclusion, and belonging, language serves as a powerful tool for shaping perceptions and challenging existing power structures. Aggarwal's clash with LinkedIn over gender-neutral pronouns highlights the broader stakes involved in linguistic and social change, reminding us that words have the power to both unite and divide.

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Sampda Gupta

  • @SampdaGupta