Hitesha Chandranee, a Bengaluru based content creator, alleged that she was “attacked” and “abused” by a Zomato delivery executive. On 9th March, Hitesha Chandranee, a Bengaluru-based content creator and make-up artist, posted an Instagram video in which she alleged to have been beaten and abused by a delivery executive employed by Zomato. In the video, Hitesha, seen with a bruise across her nose, says that she did not receive her order on time and further accused the delivery executive of rude behaviour.
The video garnered mixed reactions on social media, with many empathizing with Hitesha, while the others called for the delivery executive’s side of the story.
Series Of Events
In the video, Hitesha says that she placed an order through Zomato at 3:30 pm on 9th March, which was to be delivered at 4:30 pm. But, since the order did not reach her on time, she got in touch with its customer support service, asking them to either waive off the food order charges or cancel them.
While on a call with the customer care representative, Hitesha says the delivery executive, identified as Kamaraj, arrived at her door. She added that, since she was on call, she asked him to wait, which is when she alleges that he barged into her home, verbally abused her, and attacked her, leaving her with a bloody and fractured nose. Hitesha said she suffered a nasal bone fracture.
In the video, Hitesha says that she does not usually open the door because of her pet dog, but this time around, she opened the door a little and, through the small gap, asked the delivery executive to wait. She added that she gave the delivery person a choice saying, “I do not need the order so you can take it, I am okay”.
In response, she says, the delivery person refused to take back the order and began screaming at her. Hitesha said she felt threatened, adding that as she tried to shut the door, the delivery executive barged into her home, snatched her order from the table, and punched her on her face to obstruct her from getting back at him eventually running away.
Hitesha posted a miniature version of the video on Twitter as well. Responding to her post on Twitter, Zomato’s official handle stated that they would co-operate in the ongoing police investigation and pay for the required medical expenses.
Hey Hitesha, thank you for speaking to us, we can assure you this is not the experience our delivery universe stands for. Our local representative shall be in touch with you shortly to help you with the police investigation(1/n)
— zomato care (@zomatocare) March 10, 2021
As the video went viral across social media platforms, Kamaraj was arrested by the Bengaluru police. However, he was later granted conditional bail. Following the incident, Zomato informed Kamaraj that he had been delisted from the platform and that the company would bear his legal costs.
On 12th March, three days after the incident, Kamaraj broke his silence on the incident and refuted the allegations made against him. Speaking to ANI, Kamaraj claimed that Hitesha was the first to abuse him verbally and even threw a “chappal” at him. He stated that he apologized for the delayed delivery due to traffic and bad roads, to which she responded rudely.
“That day I reached the customer’s apartment and before I gave her food order, I told her that I am late and to please accept the order. I then gave her the food order. She placed it on a table near the door. Since it was a COD delivery, I asked her for the amount to be paid. She told me to wait since she was chatting with customer care.” Kamara further added that Hitesha refused to pay for the order and, due to the late delivery, asked for it for free, all this while she was talking with customer care simultaneously.
“I requested her not to complain since it will be trouble for me. She then very rudely in English told me to wait. I asked not to speak in that language since I am a delivery boy and not a slave,” Kamaraj stated. He added that Hitesha got agitated and said, “so what if you are a slave, what will you do, wait there” following which she refused to pay for or return the order, claiming that the order was free.
In response, he claimed that he requested her to pay for the Cash-on-delivery (COD) order since she received it. On refusing to pay, Kamaraj said that he picked up the parcel placed near the door, following which Hitesha pushed and cursed him in Hindi.
Following the altercation, Kamaraj stated that Hitesha picked up a slipper, hit him with it, and threw it at him. “She started hitting me with slippers and at some point in time while safeguarding myself, my left hand touched her right hand and the ring which she worn hit her nose and it started bleeding,” he said.
He further stated that he decided not to stay there after seeing her injury. Kamaraj claimed that, while leaving, the woman stopped him from using the lift, and he decided to take the steps and ran down. He added that, by the time he got down the stairs, the customer called him and told him to leave the place. They cancelled the order and took the food item back, he said.
Following Kamaraj’s account. Zomato founder, Deepinder Goyal, posted a Twitter statement, ensuring both parties’ support until the investigation is complete.
— Deepinder Goyal (@deepigoyal) March 12, 2021
On 16th March, Kamaraj filed a complaint against Hitesha, based on which the Bengaluru police registered a First Information Report (FIR) against her. Based on the complaint lodged by Kamaraj, the police booked her under sections 355 (assault), 504 (insult), and 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code.
Denying allegations, the delivery executive said that he does not want to complicate the situation and will fight the battle legally. “I don’t want to make it more complicated, let the truth win. If not, I will fight it legally. I have a mother with co-morbid conditions, my father died 15 years back, I am the only breadwinner for my family. I am working in Zomato for the past 26 months with 4.7 ratings. As of now, the company has blocked my ID until this case completes and assured of taking it back once the matter resolves,” he said.
Following the FIR registration, initial reports claimed that Hitesha left Bangalore after her address was leaked online, after a deluge of hate against her actions. The police said that they had called Hitesha to appear for questioning, but she said that she had left the city and was at her aunt’s house in Maharashtra. The police say that they have given time to make her statement once she returns but made clear that they would arrest her if she fails to appear before them.
On 19th March, Hitesha took to Instagram, denying claims that she had left the city. Through an Instagram post, she revealed that following the incident, she has been receiving threats and that her family were threatened too.
“I have been received many calls from various people using repulsive and threatening words against me. They have threatened my life and have even threatened to harm my family,” she wrote. She added that she has been cooperating with the police and is awaiting an impartial probe by the investigating agencies.
Over the past few weeks, the matter has gained traction with mixed reactions from both sides. Zomato has pledged support for both parties, but what the investigation reveals remains to be seen.
All You Need To Know About National Institute Of Food Technology Entrepreneurship And Management Bill 2021
On July 26, 2021, Lok Sabha passed a bill under the ministry of Food Processing Industry. The bill is titled as National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management Bill, 2021. The main motive of this bill is to address issues with the Food Processing Industry, Entrepreneurship and one Institution for National Importance. With the passing of this bill, the Indian Institute of Food Processing Technology (IIFPT) and National Institute of Food Technology Entrepreneurship and Management (NIFTEM) is now merged as Institutions of National Importance, and it aims at providing various research and advancement in learning about the Food Industry and its associated branches. The bill was first introduced in the house in February 2019 but was pending due to protest by the opposition.
Significance of Institutions of National Importance (INI)
With the passing of this bill, the institutions enjoy greater autonomy through which they can carry out various courses, research attracting skilled faculties and students from all over the country and overseas. Good standards in education will be adopted to improve the present and future of education in this branch and sector, overcoming the technological gap in the country. This law aims to improve and introduce new changes in food, bio-nanotechnology, cold chain technology etc. The desired efforts will be taken in terms of human resources and infrastructure developments, labs for research etc. Liberty to open centres anywhere in India is also granted to INI and include courses regarding food technology certification and improving the workforce of the country.
Some other important features of this act are the Institution has been authorized with the Board of Government, Senate and other acting Authorities. The Council of Board will include 16 members from different branches from the same field. The Head will be Chairperson, who will be a skilled person from the Food Industry, the Director, Dean and Registrar. Members appointed from Centre and State Governments, Members from FSSAI and Council of Agriculture Research, as mentioned in the bill. The 16 members of the board will carry out work of taking administrative decisions, creating annual budgets and paths for institution progress as an organization, establishing departments, their appointment terms of services, faculties etc. The Board of Council also holds power to grant Honorary Degrees and Diplomas. The Senate shall be the principal academic body of the Institute, consisting of the people such as Director as the Chairperson; Registrar; Full-time skilled level Professor; and Three academically skilled Individuals nominated by the board from the field.
The Union Minister of Food Processing Industry, Mr Pashupati Kumar Paras, expressed his gratitude to PM Modi for this landmark step in this industry from his Twitter handle, indicating new opportunities in Food Technology Industries. Therefore, this Act looks promising on paper with new opportunities and in Educational Development. Amidst the Pegasus Spyware and repeal of the farm laws, this looks positive from the Modi Government.
लोकसभा में आज, राष्ट्रीय खाद्य प्रौद्योगिकी, उद्यमिता और प्रबंध संस्थान विधेयक, 2021 (निफ्टेम विधेयक, 2021) को पारित किया गया।
इस विधेयक के पारित होने पर इससे जुड़े हर व्यक्ति को बधाई देता हूँ और साथ ही खाद्य प्रसंस्करण से जुड़े छात्रों को भी बधाई देता हूँ। @MOFPI_GOI
— Pashupati Kumar Paras (@PashupatiParas) July 26, 2021
Curious Case Of Pegasus: Explained
Pegasus is a spyware that can hack the victims’ mobile phones and read their SMS messages and emails. The Pegasus spyware is owned by an Israeli software company named NSO Group. According to the various reports, this company has targeted more than 50,000 phone numbers at the Global level, of which 300 are in India for surveillance.
The news broke out after the 17 media partners investigated. This investigation brought into the picture information about a leaked database of mobile telephone numbers of Indian Ministers, Opposition leaders, journalists, the legal community, business people, government officials, scientists, activists and many influential personalities of the nation.
Pegasus Spyware and India
According to the report by the agency, the Israeli company which sells Pegasus around the world says that its clients are confined to ‘vetted governments”, believed to number 36. The NSO Group also says that ‘the target list in India is not ours, never was.’ Their refusal of the leaked database has created a loophole in understanding this case.
This whole case has violated the integrity of democratic institutions. According to the report by the agencies, after the mobile phones of the opposition leader Rahul Gandhi and various other leaders were hacked under the Pegasus spyware surveillance. Multiple tweets were made against the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) government in India. This whole case has become one of the major threats in the political arena and the Indian Democracy.
Though at the start, it was used for national security purposes. The explosive expansion of surveillance technology vendors has become a vast human rights and a global security issue. If such surveillance technologies increase, it might cause a lot of problems to countries around the globe. Hence, as a precaution, all these countries need to work on regulating this technology.
According to the reports by the agency, one of the targeted phones by the Pegasus spyware was of the former election commissioner of India, Ashok Lavasa. Various such people and such opposition leaders were somehow against the BJP government having their phones hacked with the NSO-owned spyware. All these instances and the names in the leaked list have pointed figures towards the Modi Government.
The Modi government’s stand on this case was put forward in Lok Sabha by two serving ministers, Ashwini Vaishnaw and Prahlad Singh Patel. These two leaders were also featured in the leaked database. The recent Information Technology Minister, Ashwini Vaishnaw defended the BJP government in the parliament by saying, “the expose was an attempt to malign Indian democracy and its well-established institutions.” She even said, ‘any form of illegal surveillance is not possible with the checks and balances in our laws and robust institutions.’
This case has adjourned the parliament proceedings due to the protests inside and outside the house of parliament by the opposition party.
Pegasus Spyware and World.
In the statement given to the agency, Access Now, an organisation defending the digital rights of global users, said it was outraged that products sold by NSO were allegedly “used to hack and invade the private communications” of thousands of people across the globe.
At a global level, France’s Emmanuel Macron was targeted in the Pegasus spyware case. As the phone of French President Emmanuel Macron was hacked, the investigation was carried out and later on was published which was directed by the Paris-based non-profit journalism group Forbidden. After this case came in front of the whole world, the Pegasus spyware surveillance came into the picture.
If this continues for some more time, it will ruin India’s Democratic values at a global level. As well as this might become a huge technological threat between the different nations around the globe.
Modi Cabinet 2.0: Young and Dynamic Leadership or Otherwise
On the 7th of July, the union government announced the biggest cabinet expansion in the 7 years of NDA rule. The recent expansion increased the size of the Council of Ministers from 53 to 77. About 43 new ministers were sworn in, 15 of which were Cabinet Ministers and 28 Ministers of State (MoS). This is the first cabinet overhaul in the second term of NDA governance.
Experts however claim that the new cabinet expansion is a pre-emptive measure to balance electoral formulae in different states ahead of the 2022 State Assembly elections. It is also conjectured that the reshuffle comes as rectification of prolonged criticism about BJP’s governance in the past 2 years, including the Healthcare management during the Pandemic.
The Performance Paradox
This recent cabinet expansion is a report card of the BJP government’s performance in the last 2 years. Major ministerial changes, such as the resignation and replacement of Dr. Harshvardhan as the Health Minister indicate a confession of their mismanagement of the pandemic.
He has been replaced by Mansukh Mandaviya, a 2 time Rajya Sabha MP who has also been awarded by the UN for initiatives in Women’s healthcare in the past. His appointment as the Health Minister is one of hope for BJP, to change and streamline (a.) the COVID-19 Pandemic response and (b.) BJP’s image in the name of healthcare management.
On the contrary, Anurag Thakur’s promotion from MoS Finance to a Cabinet Minister defies all logical explanations for awarding performance. Not only has India’s economic condition worsened under his management, his controversial statements like “Desh ke Gadaaro ko…” do not present a strong case for him. His appointment is a political investment by BJP in Himachal Pradesh’s state elections next year which happens to be Thakur’s home state.
Similarly, Sitharaman’s finance ministry has remained untouched, after historical mismanagement of our Finance capabilities. All of this reflects a selective approach adopted by BJP, which is one of political hesitation and hyperopic ignorance.
BJP’s Political Calculator
Apart from the ‘punishment’ narrative, the new cabinet expansion has also given an insight into BJP’s political planning. This expansion has incorporated key leaders from several states that go to elections next year. Moreover, it has also been carefully planned to cover the losses BJP has incurred in the past two years.
As a reward for dismantling the elected Madhya Pradesh government and tipping scales in BJP’s favor, Jyotiraditya Scindia was appointed as the Cabinet Minister for Civil Aviation (a post held by his father as well in ’91) almost after 3 years.
On the contrary, Pashupati Kumar Paras got an early reward for breaking down Lok Janshakti Party’s (LJP) representation in Lok Sabha. He was appointed as the Union Minister for Food Processing, after the attempted coup on Chirag Paswan’s leadership.
Sarbananda Sonowal, who was replaced by Himanta Biswa Sharma as the Chief Minister of Assam after the fresh elections, was also awarded a berth in the Cabinet. It is conjectured that this development was in talks ever since Himanta Biswa Sharma was chosen as the CM.
As the Uttar Pradesh elections near, BJP also made sure to improve representation from the state. Major appointments such as Niranjan Jyoti (MoS Food Processing), Anupriya Patel (Mos Commerce and Industry), and Bhanu Pratap Singh Verma (MoS MSME) were made majorly because of their heavy support base in UP.
Following the same lead, Ajay Bhatt from Uttarakhand was appointed as MoS Defence and Tourism. As seen earlier, BJP has made major organizational changes in Uttarakhand which goes to elections next year.
In the mirage of calculated placements and image reconstruction, BJP has hit a few rights with this organizational change. The new cabinet includes a maximum number of women to have ever served in a Union Cabinet, a first in a nation with largely patriarchal tendencies.
The cabinet has also tried to focus on bringing people with commendable background experience and education on board. Ashwini Vaishnav, former IAS and an alumnus of Wharton School have been given major ministries such as Railways, Communications, and IT. Similarly, Anupriya Patel who has been given the Commerce and Industry as an MoS has also served as an educator at Amity University.
Moreover, the diffused reliance on regional strength has become the overarching theme in this cabinet reshuffle. Even though the ruling party intends to balance the voter dynamics, this regional unity has become something to watch out for.
Yet, the big story remains the ouster of major politicians who have served loyally and faithfully to this government. Ravi Shankar Prasad, Prakash Jaavedkar, and Dr. Harshvardhan are major losers in this dynamic reshuffle. While the current government has tried to modernize the leaders of this nation, it has set a new precedent that loyalty is not the most critical virtue anymore; Election Commission’s schedule is.
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