Since a week now we are all hearing the controversy surrounding an advertisement by a leading jewellery brand Tanishq. There are trending hashtags like #BoycottTanishq and what not. So, here is what happened - In the latest advertisement by the brand, a Muslim family is shown celebrating a baby shower of their south Indian bahu.
Now, to all those who questioned what is wrong with this advertisement and giving the misplaced advice that one should promote inter-religion marriage; and in the words of Mr Shashi Tharoor, "boycotting this advertisement means going against the biggest symbol of Hindu-Muslim ekatvam - India"; I would like to ask, why couldn't this have been other way around where a Hindu family is celebrating something for their Muslim bahu?
But the debates about “secularism” and “intolerance of Hindus” are once again a rage, so, of course, I got intrigued and found out that Tanishq is not the first brand to go down this road. Here are some leading brands who have created similar advertisements as Tanishq, with some subtle and not so subtle meanings -
Red Label Tea - Advertisement 1:
A Hindu visits a sculpture’s shop to buy an idol of Ganesha. He finds out the sculptor is Muslim and immediately tries to leave until this Muslim sculptor gently makes him understand that him sculpting the idol is not a big deal, over a cup of tea. My question is why can’t the Hindu guy, after finding out the religion of the sculptor, be amazed? Why does he have to be scared and suspicious? Why can’t the Hindu guy, over a steaming cup of Red Label tea praise the sculptor and be like I’m gonna buy this idol because I like it! Isn’t that is what happens in real life?
Red Label Tea - Advertisement 2:
An old, Hindu couple cannot find keys to their apartment and are locked out of it. Their Muslim neighbour comes with her daughter, opens her apartment, notices the couples’ struggle and invites them for tea. This Hindu couple and more importantly the man is reluctant to go but after he smells the Red Label Tea he forgets his hesitation and goes on to have a cup of tea. Why couldn't it have gone the other way, with the places swapped?
Red Label Tea - Advertisement 3:
So according to this advertisement, Kumbh Mela is where people (Hindu man) go and abandon their parents? What a nice informative advertisement and what a wonderful message! Thank you so much Red Label Tea!
Surf Excel Detergent - Advertisement 1:
Okay, so, Hindus are just making a mess by playing with colours on Holi? There is no religious belief or significance to it? The colours of Holi are “Daag” and going to the mosque not only triumphs the Hindu festival, but it is also more sophisticated as indicated by “Chamakati Safedi” of the Muslim boys' kurta! Okay, Got it!
Surf Excel Detergent - Advertisement 2:
So, let me get this, customs and rituals of Hindu festival are messy, full of “daag” or affect asthma patients; whereas when it comes to Eid it is all about love, care, support and what not!
Diycam Security Cam Advertisement:
Any person who is sneaking around your house, doesn’t talk to you, enters your gate and turns back after seeing the door open etc will instantly make anyone suspicious. Its basic instinct of survival! So why does it have to be about Hindu-Muslim? Such behaviour, by any person, whether they have surma in their eyes are not, raise suspicion. The End!
Problem with these advertisements is not about them being “secular”; the problem is, why are these advertisements always in the favour of one religion over others? Problem is why are Hindu characters in such advertisements always shown in a bad light? And why are Muslim characters always victimized and shown as fragile, innocent beings? Isn't secularism about the belief that religion should not influence or be involved in the organization of society? Or was the definition updated without others knowledge? And if the original definition still stands, why is this word used to influence people in one way more than the other? And one simple question arises, are there are any hidden agendas at work here?
The general opinion these days is that Hindus are “intolerant”. Well, here is a data containing the increase and decrease of the population of Hindus in our neighbouring country -
And here is the census of India -
So, did the Hindu population whittle down because they are intolerant?
Equally respecting those who are different than us is at the core of Hinduism. Now, many ‘pseudo-secularists’ may argue this point but peace and harmony have been at the centre of the Hindu religion. But it does not mean one cannot fight back. This resistance towards such manipulating advertisements and other forms of entertainment is one tiny step of we fighting back for our identity because being silent and being helpless are two different things and it is high time that others understand this difference because we are done being misunderstood.
Lastly, dear Mr Chetan Bhagat, it's good that you can afford the jewellery from Tanishq, congratulations on your life’s achievement. Here is something you should remember before tweeting nonsense again -
Being middle class is not something to be ashamed of, in fact, the reason you can afford Tanishq jewellery is that your money comes from the stories you write about middle-class characters and it is thousands of middle-class people who are buying it. So, next time you want to look down your nose upon others, take a good long look in the mirror first!