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15/10/2020 12:43 PM IST

'Growing Religious Polarization Under Modi': How Foreign Media Covered Tanishq Ad Controversy

The Washington Post said it “marked the latest example of the bitter religious divide sweeping India under the hard-line Hindu nationalist government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi."

Tanishq withdrew its ad on interfaith love after it created a furore, but the company continues to face backlash. A Tanishq showroom in Gandhidham town of Gujarat’s Kutch was reportedly forced to put up an apology note on its door. 

It was pasted on the showroom’s door on 12 October, and has since been removed, police told PTI and added that some persons had asked the store owner to put the apology note in Gujarati so that more people could understand it.

“As demanded by some persons, he had put up that apology in Gujarati as Tanishq had issued the same in English at national level. There is no element of threat or attack involved,” Superintendent of Police, Kutch-East, Mayur Patil told PTI.

The advertisement was withdrawn on Tuesday after Tanishq said in a statement that the decision has been taken “keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff.” 

ALSO READ: Apology Poster On Gujarat Tanishq Store After Threats, Brand Manager Doxxed: Reports

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) has also rejected a complaint against the advertisement for “promoting communal intermingling”, saying there is no violation of any code.

Several foreign media outlets also took note of the outrage over the ad.

Here’s how they covered it:

The Washington Post

The article noted that Tanishq pulled the ad 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.”

The episode, it said, “marked the latest example of the bitter religious divide sweeping 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 the secular republic enshrined in the Indian constitution.”

The Diplomat

The Diplomat carried an Associated Press wire which said that the withdrawal of the Tanishq ad drew sharp criticism from many in India who said the company was succumbing to right-wing extremists.

“It also shed light on the country’s growing religious polarization under Modi, whose party and supporters envision the country as a Hindu nation and are accused by critics of normalizing anti-Muslim sentiment.”

The New York Times

Quoting Amit Thorat, an assistant professor at the Center for the Study of Regional Development at Jawaharlal Nehru University, The New York Times said, “Interfaith relationships are very rare in India, and when they do exist, they create additional social pressures.”

The article also said that critics argue policies enacted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi have fanned religious hatred and “Muslim minority has been increasingly demonized in the pandemic”.

South China Morning Post

The article said that the controversy surrounding the ad “comes against a backdrop of rising interfaith tensions under PM Narendra Modi”. 

“Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party first came to power in 2014, India has become increasingly Hindu-nationalist. Religious intolerance has grown, with Hindu mobs lynching dozens of Muslims and lower-caste Dalits for consuming or slaughtering cows, which Hindus consider sacred.”

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