ChatGPT Sucked Into India’s Culture Wars


As India’s Hindu majority faces increasing scrutiny and controversy, tech companies must navigate a political minefield in order to operate in the country. In this blog post, we’ll explore how tech companies are responding to the growing culture wars in India and the implications for their businesses.

Right-Wing Commentators Stoking Controversy
Right-wing commentators in India are doing their job to stoke communal tensions, according to Hartosh Singh Bal, executive editor at The Caravan. The government is pushing the narrative, and these commentators are creating their own environment around them. There is no logic to what gets sucked into the culture war, says Aakar Patel, a journalist and former head of Amnesty International’s India bureau.

ChatGPT Controversy
The recent controversy over ChatGPT, a generative AI software, has made some potential users nervous. Companies that get caught up in these political firestorms face fallout, and some entrepreneurs are choosing to avoid the risk of offending their Hindu customers.

Recent Examples of Controversy
The past year has seen a number of examples of companies facing backlash for their involvement in Hindu culture. Jewelery company Tanishq was the focus of an online protest campaign after releasing an ad depicting a mixed-faith family, and clothing and lifestyle company Fabindia promoted a range of garments for the Hindu festival Diwali using an Urdu phrase. Unacademy, one of India’s largest edtech platforms, was forced to apologize after a question on one of its exam papers sparked a backlash from Hindu nationalist groups. Ecommerce company Myntra was attacked for trivializing Hindu culture after a meme that combined a scene from the epic Mahabharata with the company’s brand circulated on social media.

Implications for Tech Companies
Tech industry figures hope that the controversy won’t keep people in India from experimenting with generative AI, which they say has huge potential across multiple sectors. However, some in the tech sector say the controversy over ChatGPT has given them pause. Companies that want to operate in India will have to be ready for future controversies and have a process in place to deal with online boycotts or any type of allegations that arise. At the end of the day, it’s about costs, and if ChatGPT can help save money on writer salaries and yields desired results, controversies won’t matter.

It’s clear that tech companies in India face a difficult balancing act when it comes to navigating the culture wars. While generative AI has great potential for businesses, companies must be prepared for the potential backlash that comes with it.

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