It was only late last week that popular jewellery group Tanishq – owned by the Tata Group – released an advertisement featuring an inter-religious baby shower. Yesterday, Tanishq pulled their ad back following online backlash Hindu Right-wingers.
The 43-second ad had depicted a pregnant Hindu woman decked up for her baby shower in a Muslim household, conveying the message of love and harmony between people of different faiths. The campaign was named ‘Ekatvam,’ which means oneness.
However, the intolerant online trolls wasted no time in making #BoycottTanishq trend on Twitter, as they claimed that the ad promotes ‘love jihad’- a Right wing concept in which Muslim men marry Hindu women as part of showing the former’s power.
Interestingly, journalist Surbhi Gupta had an accurate take on the trolls who were ‘boycotting’ Tanishq:
"I will not buy jewelry from #Tanishq"
"Because they show a loving Muslim family and how caring they are towards their Hindu bahu. It goes against my bigotry and hate."
— Surbhi Gupta سربھی گپتا (@bysurbhigupta) October 12, 2020
The fact that the Hindu woman (in the ad) seems happy, and that it was obviously her choice who she is married to, seems to have been lost in this context. The negative response to the ad would have made sense if the Hindu woman was seen upset or ill-treated by her in-laws who belong to a different faith. However, women’s making their own choices is still frowned upon. After all, with patriarchy so deeply ingrained in our society, women are still treated as symbols of honour rather than as individuals with their own thoughts, dreams, and strong will.
There was also an argument on what if the woman in the ad was Muslim, insinuating that Hindu men marrying Muslim women would also provoke protests. The treatment of Muslims as secondary citizens in not even thinly veiled anymore. Also, nobody seems to be questioning why a woman’s choice of her life partner should matter to anyone else, leave alone a whole community.
Would Tanishq be facing similar backlash if it had reversed the religions in it's ad?
— meetasengupta (@Meetasengupta) October 12, 2020
It would be so nice if brands also came up with ads where a Hindu family thanks their Muslim daughter-in-law for allowing them to continue to do idol worship despite it being haram in Islam.
That would be the real victory of secularism.
— Sonam Mahajan (@AsYouNotWish) October 13, 2020
After pulling the ad on Tuesday, Tanishq stated that they were “deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions,” and that they have taken the action keeping in mind the safety of their staff and stores. “The idea behind the Ekavatam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness. This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective,” the statement added.
Notably, Titan stock fell on Tuesday, ending 2.1 per cent down on the Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) and 2.5 per cent down on the National Stock Exchange (NSE) according to NDTV.
Interestingly, after Tanishq pulled the ad, many prominent personalities, on social media, called for the country’s largest business conglomerate to not bow down to such attacks. Journalists Rana Ayyub, Barkha Dutt, Nidhi Razdan, and Tabeenah Anjum, as well as Supreme Court lawyer Karuna Nundy were among those who did not mince their words, on Twitter.
Ratan Tata and the case of the missing spine
— Rana Ayyub (@RanaAyyub) October 13, 2020
Rajiv Bajaj on one side and the surrender of Tanishq on the other. Difference between spine and supine.
— barkha dutt (@BDUTT) October 13, 2020
Clearly women on twitter have far more spine in dealing with trolls than @TataCompanies @TanishqJewelry. You couldn’t take the heat for even a day and caved into the hate mob. As for the bigots, they can never defeat what India really stands for- plurality and diversity
— Nidhi Razdan (@Nidhi) October 13, 2020
What next?? Banning Kundan, Jadau, Meenakari- which finds its origin in the Mughal era?
Lest we forget Mughal kings marrying Rajput princesses led to a fresh amalgamation of jewellery that combined the delicate designs. Now inseparable.https://t.co/JxkPxAeOOS
— Tabeenah Anjum (@TabeenahAnjum) October 13, 2020
— Karuna Nundy (@karunanundy) October 13, 2020
Actors Konkana Sen Sharma and Swara Bhasker also shared similar views:
I like this ad. Keep sharing. Wish Tanishq wouldn’t bow down to petty, paid trolls. Ignore the haters. https://t.co/KeFATBe1bm
— Konkona Sensharma (@konkonas) October 13, 2020
— Swara Bhasker (@ReallySwara) October 13, 2020
The whole episode is proof that everyone – even the richest and the biggest – wants to be in the good books of the vicious parties who are making a joke out of India’s secular fabric.