But a few days after the ad aired, jewelry company Tanishq withdrew it from all platforms following a flood of angry calls from Hindu nationalists, including members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), to boycott the brand.
Kothapalli Geetha, a former BJP lawmaker, called the announcement “highly questionable“To“ normalize the jihad of love. ”Love jihad is a conspiracy theory espoused by right-wing Hindu activists that Muslim men are engaged in a deliberate effort to convert Hindu women through marriage. order in 201
A prominent right-wing lawyer also shared the details of a Muslim company employee on Twitter, a move known as doxing, urging his followers to “unmask” Tanishq and make the company apologize.
The episode marked the latest example of the bitter religious divide that swept India under the hard-line Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He and his supporters envision India as a Hindu nation, not as the secular republic enshrined in the Indian constitution.
Nearly 80% of the Indian population is Hindu while Muslims make up 14%, which is still nearly 200 million people. After gaining independence from Britain and a bitter split with Muslim Pakistan, India’s founders envisioned a secular republic in which all religions would have equal rights.
Relations between the Hindu majority and Muslim minorities have become increasingly strained since Modi came to power in 2014. In August, Modi laid the foundations of a large Hindu temple on a hotly contested site where a 16th-century mosque is was illegally razed to the ground by Hindu extremists. In February, Delhi was engulfed by the worst municipal uprising in decades, causing dozens of deaths. Last year, Modi’s government passed a controversial law making religion a basis for citizenship – which specifically excludes Muslim migrants – prompting fierce protests.
In a declaration Late Tuesday, Tanishq said he was withdrawing the ad on account of the “hurt feelings” and “well-being” of employees and partners. The company said the idea behind its new collection – “Ekatvam”, or unity – was to “celebrate the meeting of people from different walks of life” during “these troubled times”. The jewelry brand is a division of the Tata Group, one of the largest and oldest conglomerates in the country with interests in energy, automobiles and consumer goods.
It is not the first time that a brand in India has been criticized for promoting harmony between Hindus and Muslims. Last year, a commercial for a detergent showing a Hindu child protecting a Muslim child during the festival of colors also sparked a call for a boycott.
Hardliners believe that announcements such as these promote a secular viewpoint, which they view as an essential threat to the Hindu nature of India.
Interreligious marriages and, for that matter, in India are frowned upon and often encounter violence or harsh opposition.
Karthik Srinivasan, a communications strategy consultant, said he believes it was the shift from online trolling to offline threats that prompted Tanishq to withdraw the announcement. “I am very sad that something that promotes unity is being withdrawn for the wrong reasons,” he said. “We have always had intolerance,” she said, but she was “encouraged” when those in power looked away.
Shashi Tharoor, a politician from the opposition Congress party, shared the announcement Twitter, saying, “If Hindu-Muslim ‘ekatvam’ annoys them so much, why don’t they boycott the longest surviving symbol of Hindu-Muslim unity in the world: India?”
Calling it “really sad”, a media executive asked why a strong brand like Tanishq would have “retreat” in this way.
“Tanishq’s announcement showed how I was born and raised in this country in the 1990s. What happened shows where we are now, “read a tweet by another user.