Written by Asiya Anwar
Featured image by Henry Taylor
In the wake of the recent backlash suffered by the makers of the recent Tanishq advertisement, it has become imperative for brands (and advantaged people from various professional backgrounds) to take a stand against the growing communal hatred, dismissal of inter-faith harmony, and in the general spewing of enmity between (one of the) minority and majority groups of the country.
The advertisement which portrayed a baby shower ceremony in the procession of an interfaith
couple was met with tremendous backlash primarily on social media with people calling out the
mere fictional depiction of a joyous celebration observed by the family of an inter-faith couple.
The act of boycotting the advertisement altogether is a stark reflection of the present definition
of secularism, bigotry practised by the majority of the population of the country and the abysmal
mindset of what Indian society has come to become in the past few years.
Intolerance and religion bias lies at the core of the problem the advertisement was subjected to
making it just another example of the prevalent political bigotry. The sheer depiction of the idea
of co-existence of people belonging from a different religion, ethnic, cultural backgrounds seems
to be an alienated thought enough to provoke dishonourable comments such as “love jihad”.
Tanishq, a division of Titan, and a brand owned by Tata sons succumbed to pulling down the
advertisement reasoning the “hurt sentiments” of their employees.
Commerce and retail sector, which is ever-growing and substantially expanding in nature,
represents one of the major sectors of a country and especially an under-developing country
like ours. It is no undisclosed fact that this sector thrives heavily to the consumers for its entire
popularity, growth and profit.
As per the Advertising Standards Council Of India (ASCI) which comes under Article 25 of the
Indian Constitution, an objective clearly states that advertisers have a social responsibility
towards the people of the nation with respect to the kind of advertisements they release which
also translates to the fact that it indirectly becomes the responsibility of the brand owners as
well to stand true to the objective.
This is to say that brand, company and media owners have a personal role to fulfil in
supervising and maintaining the secularism, economical and socio-political aspects of the
the country they abundantly profit from.
Two widely known Indian brands, Parle and Bajaj have already declared the discontinuation of
their advertisements from various media channels owing to their portrayal of prejudiced, illiberal,
hate inducing content which tends to disrupt the harmony of a country which represents people
from multicultural and multiracial backgrounds.
The biased and clearly ridiculous criticism the Tanishq Ad makers had to go through is a
testimony of the becoming of a democratic yet a highly intolerant society this country is
As a citizen, categorised into different areas based on age, gender, race, religion, the most
important classification sadly turns out to be of the class, privilege and profession in an under-
developing country. Pertaining to which it becomes undeniably necessary for people in power
and authoritative positions to be vocal against the rising fascism in the name of offending one or
more religion and upholding the true essence of a democratic country.
One of the key highlights which emerge from incidents like these is the retrospection in which
an individual is thrown only to reconfirm the thought that nothing is truly apolitical despite the
refusal of the acknowledgement by the decision-makers; leaders of the ruling state especially in
an ever-changing economy.
The boycotting of Tanishq Advertisement, in reality, is just a pawn move by the overruling,
influential politicians under the disguise of inciting communal hatred. Every few months a similar
incident occurs and almost every single time it rings true to the familiar notion of hate inducing
conspiracy practised regularly by our chosen politicians.
But, the thing, you as a reader, must direct yourself to is the fact that people are the biggest
asset of a country, especially one of which homes around 1.3 percent of the world’s total
population. From employees to consumers to voters to students, each sector holds enormous
potential which is mostly misdirected before one can find the time to step back and think for a
second “Where am I heading towards” in terms of consuming content, opinion building, or
disseminating those formed opinions.
As a consumer of either content or products, one ought to introspect and question rationality in
the context of cultural and religious notions, authenticity in the context of presented “facts” to
save oneself from falling into the traps of misguided propaganda.
Like business thrives on consumers, politics thrives on people drawing a very thin line between
the two, one needs to fulfil the role of both religiously.