INDIA. Imagine the year is 1947, the year of partition with Hindus and Muslims killing each other. An advertisement during that era to promote Hindu/Muslim unity would surely have not been accepted, but more than a decade later, a jewelry advertisement trying to promote such unity has sparked controversy across the secular nation.
Jewelry ad promotes religious unity
To welcome the upcoming festival season Tanishq, a jewelry brand of Titan, released an advertisement showing a young pregnant Hindu with her Muslim mother-in-law.
The young woman is dressed beautifully to celebrate her baby shower. As the young woman sits down, she reminds her mother-in-law that this ceremony does not happen in her (Muslim) household. Her mother-in-law gently replies that keeping daughters happy is a tradition in every household.
The advertisement was not appreciated by some Indians, including a few leaders of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP). The advertisement demonstrates that the young woman is married into a family that loves her like their own child. They go out of their way to celebrate an occasion not traditional to their own faith.
This ad campaign led to the boycott of Tanishq with, #BoycottTanishq trending on Twitter. Those who oppose Hindu-Muslim unity called Tanishq a ‘pseudo-secular Tanishq’ and claimed they were pro-jihad.
Ad pulled in wake of controversy
The company felt compelled to take down the advertisement to stop the spread of hateful messages. Tanishq released a statement stating the purpose behind the advertisement.
Shashi Tharoor tweeted on the controversy, “If Hindu-Muslim ‘ekatvam’ irks them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world — India?”
After receiving all the hateful, negative comments and threat messages, Tanishq released a statement that acknowledged the public sentiment. To ensure the well being of its staff, the advertisement has been withdrawn.
The take down of the advertisement has been seen as a mark of failure in a country whose roots support unity.