Exploiting the pandemic; Bezos, Zuckerberg, Ambani top to the list

By Arya Gavai

Can a person be ethically viable even after dipping their head in the pool of gems?

Not very long ago I became familiar to the word 'millionaire’ and the millionaires. Media glorified their success all over the world and the names of Bill Gates, Mukesh Ambani, Jack Ma, Steve jobs were permanently set as an example of success. How these genius minds made a space that contribute almost 50% in the world’s economy individually! They are also responsible for creating job opportunities and development of new sectors under which individual talents are appreciated. With each employment opportunity comes tons of conditions an employee have to work under, but it is also the responsibility of the company that their employees are taken care of by giving them a suitable salary/wage, daily break, guaranteed healthcare, right to take a sick leave, promotion etc. as per the ethics of employer-ship.

But, what shocked me was that amidst a pandemic, already rich are becoming even richer! There are several ways a person can get rich with, by selling stocks, earning profits, investing in already famous company etc. but one name that kept spiralling was the name of Jeff Bezos. Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, an already self-made billionaire became the richest man in the world, beating even Bill Gates. It doesn’t just stop there, he kept getting even more rich in a world wide lockdown!

It is estimated that Jeff Bezos made $83,333.33 per second on 19th August, 2020. This huge amount made me raise an eyebrow about his relationship with his employees and the ethics of his company. Upon further research I came across various reviews of ex Amazon employees in which majority of them have spoken about how overworked and underpaid they were, and how little he cares about his employee’s health and 'slaves them away in dangerous condition.’

As the Corona virus pandemic has upended, the workers at Amazon were most reliable yet were fired even at the slightest criticism. When asked in an interview about the delay in $4 billion commitment for the protection of their essential workers amidst the pandemic, head of the department Dave Clark said that even though they are a late party, they have been early on the curve to this than most employers, particularly in the U.S.

Jeff Bezos is worth $196.4 billion dollar as per Forbes billionaires list. Myanmar and Guatemala combined, has an estimated GDP of $146 billion. Now I’m not saying that stocking up hard earned money is cowards way to live, but surely enough. Both, the government and the Non government organisations acclaim to have plans and services to eradicate homelessness, providing medical healthcare to the under privileged, so on and so forth to more than millions of people. With his money, Jeff can surely end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen and still remain a billionaire.

Another rich genius personality who is questioned for it’s ethics policy is Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook. Since 2010, Times magazine has named Zuckerberg among the 100 most wealthiest and influential people in the world. We all accept that believes and morals are not universal, some people may see Mark as a smooth line, as he has built one of the most successful social networking website ever. He was able to understand the social nature of human and mend it in the digital world by connecting people together beyond boundaries. On other hand he was accused of stealing the idea of Facebook aka Harvard connection from his college seniors Divya Narendra and the Winklevoss brothers and was sued for it for which he had to pay them $65 million. Facebook is also accused of stealing data and having access to personal information of it’s users. Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned Mark over the Cambridge analytica scandal. AOC further in the questionnaire asked him about Facebook’s policy on exempting political advertising, if one could pay to advertise an incorrect information to demote or promote a political agenda, to which he did say that he supports removing content promoting cases of violence, or census or voter suppression. “So, you won’t take down the lies or you will take down the lies? I think it’s a pretty simple yes or no question”, AOC said. He did not answer whether he would take down the lies, if they were in political advertisements. Whether or not his work is influential but a code of ethics and righteousness is also very important. I see Mark Zuckerberg as culturally tone deaf person, unaware of his own actions or it also makes me think if he is doing it consciously?

Our last person in this series, who is considered to be Asia’s richest person is, Mukesh Ambani. Mukesh Ambani is an Indian billionaire business magnate, and the chairman, managing director and largest shareholder of Reliance Industries LTD. His net worth is $79.2 billion as of 16 August 2020 and is listed on Forbes as 6th richest person in the world. With plans such as reliance Jio, reliance retail, reliance petroleum, etc. he seems to be extremely good to his customers and stake holders. Even most of his operations are through outsourcing. But like they say “politics makes a man dirty”, not many lay people know that reliance industries owns Network 18 which further owns most of the media houses, which means that Ambani controls what news reaches you and how much of it is to be censored. Narendra Modi’s election campaign costs 5000 crores and that huge amount was funded by none other than Mukesh Ambani. The Radia tapes and the Essar tapes clearly proved that how giant corporate – politicians ’manage’ the executive, the judiciary, parliament, bankers and even the rival businesses, which also involved RIL. Involvement in various scams like issuing fake shares, switched shares sent for transfer by buyers to make illegal profits, attempted to monopolise the private Telecom services marker through front companies etc. As the chairman and the senior most important person in the company, he has done what it takes for a company to reach its peak and even higher, but at the costs of corruptions. In a country like India, who is still in its developing stage even after 73 years of independence, where the poor are getting much poorer and facing the consequence of their situation every single day; are we really in the position to glorify one man who made to the top rich list? Are we so shallow of people to celebrate a man who lives off of his labourers dystopia and still doesn’t increase a single penny more to improve their living?

Hundreds of laws have been made and hundreds of laws will be made but only for those who can benefit off of them. The democrats, the republics, the fascist, the communists, the liberals – it has many names but “privilege” reeks from all of them. Ethically speaking, the ethics is just another clause in the “terms & condition”. And if it’s not, then justify why the janitor of a billion dollar company still struggles to bring food to his table and why there are thousands of sexual assault cases and still the company makes profits even after being sued.

Arya Gavai is an Intern with The Colourboard. They are currently pursuing Bachelors in Mass Media from Mumbai.

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