The Tanishq ad controversy – what we’re actually saying

The recent Tanishq ad controversy in India has the social media hustling with all kinds of opinions related to the old Hindu-Muslim debate in the country. While we’ve had more than enough of ‘intellectual’ takes on secularism and social harmony, there’s just one simple point that Hindus who opposed the ad are trying to put across – and on some level failing to do so.

Nobody has a problem with secularism. The Tanishq ad was a beautiful rendition of how a Muslim family embraces a Hindu daughter-in-law and allows her to perform a Hindu ritual at their house. It was fairly well shot and reasonably touching; definitely a selling ad for a major jewellery brand. We all are well capable of accepting the good parts of the ad and even endorsing it.

But the backlash is centred on one question – does the brand dare make an ad from the opposite perspective where a Muslim girl is married to a Hindu family or a Muslim family accepts a Hindu son-in-law? Twitter asking this question in multiple ways led the Tanishq brand manager to delete the video altogether, and not even answer the question; because that’s how afraid they are of the question.

The only reason the right wing youth are so frustrated with this kind of creative content and propaganda in entertainment is that the Hindu community has always been on the compromising end. Every Hindi movie, every advertisement and every creative expression of a brand identity that has involved the Hindu-Muslim context has shown the Muslim community in a good light and the Hindu community in a bad/neutral light. The simple question is – why not vice versa too? After all, secularism says all religions are equal. It does not say that a minority religion is higher.

It is also undeniable that reality is far from these artistic depictions. Muslim families hardly accept inter-faith relationships, and the recent murder of a 19 year old boy, Rahul Rajput in Delhi who allegedly had a relationship with a Muslim girl is evidence to that. There are ample instances of love jihad that speak of Hindu women forcefully converted and even murdered. Why isn’t there any artistic depiction of the victimization of the Hindu community by minority ones?

This advertisement is precisely a representation of the subliminal conditioning that the youth has been subjected to over the years, in the name of secularism. With the advent of social media, more and more youngsters are waking up to the ridiculousness of supporting/promoting a minority religion at the cost of a majority religion. This backlash against the ad was just a validation that the youth cannot be fooled anymore.

I repeat – no one has a problem with secularism. But everyone has a problem when one community is constantly forced to compromise its identity in order to appease to another. And when it happens on levels of cinema and advertisements, it has a great impact that is unfavourable for the community subjected to compromise. The young Hindu community is just saying that it won’t compromise anymore. Secularism says equality for religions – so be it.


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