In what seems to be a mishandling of a well-intended gesture, Zerodha co-founder and CEO Nithin Kamath announced on Thursday that the firm will be running a ‘fun health program,’ where Zerodha employees will get half-salary bonuses for losing weight.

According to Kamath’s latest tweets, the CEO explained that anyone at Zerodha who has a body mass index (BMI) of less than 25 will get half a month’s pay as a bonus.

He then went on to further explain the rules of the challenge, roping in the idea of a collective charitable donation, while encouraging other companies to try something similar.

41-year-old Kamath is a fitness freak himself and occasionally posts pictures of his gym progress and shares his ketogenic diet, sugar-free lifestyle to his followers, and has encouraged others to stay fit, especially through the lockdown.

Kamath’s team, unfortunately, seems to have struck a wrong chord with followers, who immediately tore apart the programme for potentially ‘fatshaming’ some employees and coming off as ‘problematic, ‘weird’, and ‘stupid.’

For starters, Kamath’s team failed to consider that BMI is a notoriously outdated and ineffective way of tracking true physical fitness. BMI simply divides weight by height; it can provide a fairly decent index of the ‘average person’ but most people don’t fall into that very narrow parameter.

Take Arnold Schwarzenegger for example. In his prime, his BMI was recorded at 32.5, which would leave him without a bonys if he worked at Zerodha today, despite being one of the fittest people in the world. It works the other way too. Some individuals with eating disorders such as bulimia may pass the BMI test — at the cost of their greater health and nutritional needs.

While Nithin Kamath did add that BMI wasn’t the perfect way to track fitness…

… it was too little too late to put this message out there. The Zerodha CEO was immediately ripped apart on social media by experts and everyday folks alike:

Several people also criticized the program for being toxic – and suggested that healthier, more realistic long-term goals were a better idea.

Ofcourse, a few Zerodha users also made a joke at the challenge’s expense.

While Kamath’s challenge may need some revisioning, it’s heartening to see so many individuals recognizing the problem, and banding together to spread a more inclusive, healthy idea of personal fitness.

(Featured Image Credits: Zerodha, @Nithin0dha/Twitter)