Wednesday, January 19, 2022

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Bihar’s Step Towards COVID-19 Decline

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Source - https://www.webmd.com/lung/coronavirus

by Aahana Khemani

Bihar, a state in India has been impacted by COVID-19 like many other. As of 8th February 2021, the recovery rate in Bihar touched a whopping 99.09%! The total number of COVID-19 infected patients became 2,61,299. Chief Minister of Bihar, Nitish Kumar said that Bihar will provide free vaccination to the citizens of the entire state! 

The provision was over a political poll. While releasing the BJP parties’ Bihar election proclamation, Nirmala Sitharaman, finance minister of India, stated that free vaccines would be provided to the citizens of Bihar. Other parties such as Congress threatened to hit the streets if the BJP failed to deliver their claims in their poll manifesto. 

This initiative does have multiple positive effects. First of all, the vaccinations have a promising chance of curing a majority of COVID-19 patients. It will also save citizens of Bihar from spending too much money and provide a free treatment, hopefully, if the vaccination alone works throughout. Furthermore, considering the COVID-19 recovery rate in Bihar as of early February, 2021, it seems as if the COVID 19 pandemic is declining in Bihar and therefore, as many vaccinations will not be needed, saving the government on having to spend too big of a budget on free vaccination. 

In conclusion, this initiative can definitely have a positive effect on its citizens, while being comparatively budget friendly, as analysed as of 8th February, 2021. Hopefully, the recovery rate comparatively increases worldwide, minimizing and ultimately majorly declining the COVID-19 pandemic! 

The Story of Disha Ravi, The 22 Year Old Who Was Accused of Sedition for a Tweet.

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Image Via The News Minute
Image Via The News Minute

By Pritha Nag

On February 14 2021, Disha Ravi a 22-year-old activist got arrested for sedition (the act of inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch) and has been accused of creating and sharing a google document that incites and encourages violence. The Google document was a toolkit that helped and supported the farmers, in the ongoing protests taking place in India. The case has several different names but is commonly being referred to as the “toolkit case”. Many believe that the international community and “anti-nationalists” are plotting a conspiracy against India. 

The Google document was a toolkit where the aim was to help with the current farmer’s protests that have been going on in India for the past couple of months. Farmers (and others) have been protesting out on the streets in Delhi in retaliation to the three new farm bills that the government had announced and passed. Farmers are furious over these three new bills as they believe they will be exploited and cheated. The government has offered to put the bills on hold, but the farmers want the bills gone altogether. 

Disha Ravi is a 22-year-old climate change activist, who lives in Bengaluru, India. She is the founder of Fridays For Future India, which is a strike that is held every Friday for students to skip school and protest against the lack of climate action. She was arrested on February 14th 2021, on the charges of “Sections 124A (sedition), 153A (promoting hatred amongst various communities on social/cultural/religious grounds) and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.” She has also been accused of having pro-Khalistani connections. A connection that is looked down upon having, due to the large amounts of controversy surrounding the topic. Pro Khalistani is (in simplest terms) a Sikh movement wanting to create a separate land for Sikhs by making a sovereign state. The state would have both Indian and Pakistani land. 

Ravi is being accused of being a key conspirator in the making of the document and sharing it with 18-year-old climate change activist, Greta Thunberg. Thunberg is yet to comment on the situation. Ravi said in court that she only edited two lines of the document, and “I was just supporting the farmers. I supported the farmers because they are our future and we all need to eat.” She said before breaking down in the courtroom and then was sent to five days in police custody. Many have taken to social media to express how they feel with one volunteer of Fridays for Future saying in a tweetCan anyone please let me know what is seditious in that toolkit?” With others saying that it was just a toolkit, and to imply that it was a conspiracy is baseless. 

On February 23rd Ravi was granted bail by the Delhi court. The court granted bail but expressed that there was “scanty” and “sketchy” proof to back the sedition charges. The judge concluded that Ravi had no Pro-Khalistani connections and there was no evidence linking her to the violence that occurred on Republic Day. The judge added that one cannot be put behind bars for simply disagreeing with the government. The court turned down the policies that claimed that Ravi supported violence and secession. Ravi was granted bail by Article 19 (the right of freedom), and added on saying freedom of speech and expressing one’s self includes the right to branch out to a global audience. 

Ravi’s arrest has sparked national and international talk about youth activism, democracy, the farmers’ protest and India’s government. The ongoing farmer’s protests have sparked and started many conversations amongst the youth, and Ravi was not an exception. Many want Ravi freed immediately, with Jairam Ramesh, a former minister saying Ravi’s arrest is “completely atrocious”. The world is watching to see what will happen next to India, and we just like the others are left wondering, what’s next to come? 

The Power of Technology and Human Compassion.

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Source - https://indianexpress.com/article/india/student-with-a-drone-turns-saviour-for-four-fishermen-lost-at-sea-7141229/

by Tara Hebbar and Diya Barmecha

In the early hours of Tuesday morning, 5th January, four fishermen were supposedly sunk after their boat withstood a lot of damage. They were ultimately saved by a 19-year-old and his drone. The main reason for this damage was the high tide in the sea at the time. There were rescue attempts conducted by 80 other fishermen but they were all in vain. These fishermen between the ages of 50-60 went out to sea at 4 am. There was worry all across the Nattika beach in Thrissur. This was an unlikely incident.  

19 year old Devang Subil heard about the situation since he was on the beach as well and approached the rescue team and fishermen about using his drone to locate the missing fishermen. He was instantaneously dismissed by them due to it being considered a “serious situation,” and the drone considered “a children’s toy.” Little did they know, this “children’s toy” would help save 4 lives. When the MLA, Geetha Gopi became aware of his idea, however, she considered it a great one and found a way to get Devang on a rescue boat along with his drone. 

The first fisherman was clinging onto a fishing pot when the drone caught sight of him, the other two were just 300 meters away. He was able to locate them using the drones camera that displayed the feed on his phone. The fourth one, however, was rescued last and was on the verge of drowning with exhaustion once they had reached him. He lost consciousness minutes after his rescue. The fishermen were afloat on the sea by hanging onto plastic buckets and tanks. The four fishermen are at a hospital in Thrissur receiving their needed treatments. After this successful search mission, the Kerala Fishing Boat Operator’s Association said that it was the first time a drone was used to save fishermen and they would like to deploy some drones in case of other emergencies like this one. Subil added to this by saying, “It is a cheap medium of rescue. Usually we press helicopters and speed boats into service for such search operations. But this is very cost effective.”

The MLA, Geetha Gopi stated, “We salute the youngster whose timely intervention saved four lives. He showed us how new innovations can help save lives. I have already approached the government with a suggestion to honour him.” 

This instance is just one of several that indicates the growing presence of technology in our lives. Even though it is often criticized, this is an example of how it can be used to save lives. While technology does have its pros and cons, when technology is used right, it can get humanity access to experiences, and sights which couldn’t be dreamed of before. It can be utilized to give so many better lifestyles and provide many with opportunities far beyond their reach, at one point. We should search for situations like this, which make us realize not only the power of technology but also the power of human kindness.

Raise In Poverty

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by Aahana Khemani

Research shows that $35 billion are needed to deter widespread famine, fight poverty, and keep children in school. Over this year, there has been a 40% increase in the number of people needing help. The COVID 19 pandemic is expanding the number of people who need humanitarian assistance to survive. This is drastically increasing the rates of extreme poverty in just one year. 

The UN reported in its Global Humanitarian Overview 2021, that one in every 33 people, will need assistance to meet fundamental needs such as food, water, and sanitation. That’s approximately 235 million people worldwide, with focus on countries such as Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia. “The crisis is far from over” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement.“Humanitarian aid budgets face dire shortfalls as the impact of the global pandemic continues to worsen.” He continued. 

Multiple countries also came to aid by giving a record $17 billion in 2020 for collective humanitarian response. This money reached around 70% of the targeted people. The UN stated that this money that is raised is less than half of the needed $35 billion to deter widespread famine, fight poverty, and keep children in school.“The rich world can now see the light at the end of the tunnel,” said UN humanitarian chief Mark Lowcock in a statement. “The same is not true in the poorest countries.”

As the pandemic continues delaying food systems, the hunger rate is noticeably ascending. Food is one of the most needed resources for one to survive, and if something is not done about the hunger during this pandemic, many will starve. The UN forecasted that by the end of 2020, around 270 million people will lack reliable access to food, considering the cost of meeting food aid this year rose to $9 billion from $5 billion in 2015. 

We as a global community need to hold hands and support the 1in 33 people who need humanitarian aid. Whether it be through monetary donations, or voluntary time donations. People in poverty need to have access to basic necessities such as food, water, sanitation & hygiene, healthcare facilities, etc. Without which, millions of peoples’ lives’ will be in danger. 

Source

Destination Set – Lessons from New Zealand!

Source -https://www.shutterstock.com/search/india+and+new+zealand

by Tara Hebbar

While most countries including India continue to fight the battle against Covid-19, New Zealand has successfully terminated itself from the clutches of the deadly virus. Although the size and health care systems do provide the country with an added advantage, there are still lessons our country can take from New Zealand. 

The lockdown in New Zealand was quick to be set and the rules were strict, the Prime Minister– Jacinda Ardern who says–, that the regulations were the strictest, and for them she would “make no apologies”. The borders were also strictly enforced and closed to almost all non-citizens. Professor Martin Berka, an economist at  Massey University states,

“doing this early on with only over a few thousand cases [worldwide] at the time allowed them to stop the influx and stop the community transmission.”

While India’s main goal was to minimize the negative effects of the Virus, New Zealand always aimed to eliminate it completely. This clear goal was another factor that contributed to their speedy extermination of the Covid-19. 

Another prime factor that allowed and contributed to the eradication of the virus was compliance of not only the officials but additionally the citizens as well! The officials did a very thorough and commendable job when it came to implementing the lockdown and safety measures, and the citizens did the same when it came to following them. It was most definitely a collective effort that couldn’t have been possible without the different people across the spectrum, from nurses to those who take the tests . Meanwhile, not only is India a country with an immensely large population, but additionally most people and officials refuse to understand the severity of the situation. Even during the peak of the lockdown, people would still roam outdoors, without an urgent agenda and the officials would either ignore it or they would be punished with physical beatings or some were made to even do frog jumps.

Although it is unfair to expect the same reaction to the virus from both countries, due to the health infrastructure and economy is it fair to expect the same level of precaution taken by the citizens. The population of New Zealand, made eradicating the virus just a little easier, not to discredit what they have done. They also have better healthcare schemes and infrastructure than we do. However, just as mentioned priorly, there are still a plethora of lessons one can take from their recovery.  One very important aspect is to respect those who are experts in their fields and heed the advice and warning they give. Many people in India consider the virus a  ploy by the nations leaders without realising the enormity and urgency of the situation. Doctors and experts needed to be taken seriously for the spike of cases to become a curve. Additionally, following the necessary social distancing norms is essential. Now, in our country the social distancing circles have become another decoration with no one following the desired rules, hence causing the fast spread of the disease. To decrease the chances of spreading the disease here and everywhere, social distancing is key. Everything is starting to resume again and if the virus needs to be removed it is essential to be socially distanced whenever it is possible.

We need to implement these lessons we can take from the country of New Zealand who have set a landmark and ray of hope for us all. This virus will not get the better of us if we learn to take it seriously. Rules need to be implemented and most importantly followed. It is in everyone of our hands to cease the spread of the Covid-19. This might have been the most common saying of the year 2020, but hear it again and heed it’s advice. Wash your hands, stay socially distanced and safe. As the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc, we must do what we can to make it just a little harder for the virus to continue spreading the same way. Let us look at New Zealand as our destination and all hop on the train to get there!

Bollywood’s ‘Bomb’

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By Diya Barmecha

Laxmii starring Akshay Kumar has faced a long road of hardships before being introduced to viewers on 9th November on Disney+Hotstar. The movie, formerly called, movie Laxmmi Bomb is a remake of the original 2011 Tamil version called Kanchana. Both movies are directed by Raghava Lawrence. 

The film had to halt shooting due to the coronavirus pandemic. Amidst all this confusion the film has had its own boycott movement by net citizens on twitter. This movement caused the team to change the title of the film to Laxmii. Several Hindu groups disliked the name and claimed that it was “hurting religious sentiments’ ‘ because of using a derogatory term like bomb with the name of a Hindu goddess. The director thought the name “Laxmmi Bomb” fit the movie perfectly as it was was saying that “a dhamaka of Laxmmi Bomb cannot be missed”. He further explained that the transgender lead character is radiant and strong which is why the name fits perfectly. 

The transgender coommunity has only been recently recognised and their struggle is still present and evident. It is one thing to be recognised on paper by the government. But it is a whole different story to earn the respect accepted in the real world. This was reiterated in the film by the portrayal of Laxmi (Sharad Kelkar). The message of the movie is quite clear. They want love and acceptance for all transgenders. They call for equal opportunities and they want a chance to make their country proud, just like anyone else. This horror-comedy film also incorporates light humor to keep their viewers entertained. It goes on to engage its audience with a slight aspect of horror.  Despite my opinion of it being a movie that I greatly enjoyed, there are many that feel it “was a waste of time”.

In a review posted by The Indian Express, it said, “Somewhere deep inside the mess that’s Laxmii, is the kernel of a solid idea: to give us the story of a transgender person, with empathy and sympathy.” They are criticizing the movie for being the  first to have a star like Akshay Kumar play a transgender, something we thought we would never see. Although the movie may not show a trangender as a main character of the movie and say lines like “they clap their hands’. By demonstrating what they actually are helps us understand them. Although they may be “different” they should be respected for what they are. The movie highlights things that are typically done by women and shows the reaction of the family in the movie. This is very similar to how a typical orthodox Indian family would react to these situations as well. For example a male draping a saree in a store.  This movie is one of a kind. Even if the movie didn’t show a lot about the transgender community, t highlighted the fact that they could be portrayed in movies by actors and it could be normalised. 

In summary, the plot of this movie is that Asif (Akshay Kumar) and his wife Rashmi (Kiara Advani) go to Rashmi’s house and in some unexpected events a spirit possesses Asif. The movie shows the  typical religious things done to “banish the spirit”. This movie highlights the Hindu-Muslim conflict since Asif and Rashmi are from different communities. At the start of the move Rashmi’s father was not supportive of her husband. But as the movie progresses this dynamic changes.

This movie encompasses a variety of songs as well There is a typical bollywood peppy love song called “Burj Khalifa” that is trending on various platforms.It makes a person tap their feet and sway their head. . There is “Start Stop attracting people  with its catchy title and chorus. Added to the mix they have “Bam Bholle,” which is once again a powerful song that demonstrates Akshay Kumar’s great acting as he dances in the role of a transgender. There is a fire in the center while multiple people dance around it, clearly showing their powerful feelings.

All in all, I think the movie discusses different social issues present in India and tries to normalise it by showing it in a manner that the common person can resonate with. . From the changing of the name to the hate they are getting from net citizens need to open their minds and allow new forms of entertainment to arise . There are always people who comment and say bollywood loves to add the “spicy masala” to each movie but that is what the majority of the public wants. Irrespective of the movie having “masala” the movie is a blockbuster. That makes people who watched the movie hypocritical. To allow many people to watch the film and then blaming the movie for changing plotlines and not portraying the correct image.

In my opinion, Laxmii is a movie the first of its kind but there will be many more like this that will discuss social issues. The trangender community may be recognized by the government but they are yet to be respected which is what the movie aims to inculcate. I think the director was justified in saying that this is definitely a movie worthy of the term, “Bomb!”

Ziva Dhoni – Rape Threats

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Source - https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/papa-you-are-getting-older-ziva-sings-for-dad-dhoni-on-37th-birthday/articleshow/64897528.cms

by Aryaah Lodha

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, one of India’s best cricket players has had a poor performance in the IPL this season. Because of this, his 5 year old daughter, Ziva Dhoni has been receiving rape threats. This outraged hundreds of thousands of people, including myself. Many Celebrities like Ranganathan Madhavan and Irfan Pathan have spoken out on this matter and are demanding justice for Ziva. The person sending these rape threats was a teenager, was 16 years old. Regardless of age, no one should ever even have the thought that it is right to do something like this. The tweet from the user “troll M.S dhoni” was giving Ziva rape and death threats. The threats were sent on Sakshi Dhoni, (M.S Dhoni’s wifes) Instagram account, which caused her to limit comments on all of her social media profiles/platforms. Just because somebody didn’t perform to your expectations is utterly no reason to give RAPE threats to anyone. There is never a reason to give rape threats. This has to stop. Clearly, 5 year old girls, or even children,  are no exception to the sickening things going on in today’s world. 

The levels that social media is stooping to these days is absolutely disgusting. People think that with fake and anonymous accounts, they can do anything and get away with it. Thankfully, The Ranchi Police were quick to take action against this, and managed to get the boy who had issued the threats. “We detained him for questioning after Ranchi police informed us that the accused hails from Mundra in Kutch district. We have confirmed that the boy is the same who had posted the message.” are the words of a Ranchi Police officer working on the case. The mentality of many teenagers in India is clearly not in the right place, and this has been reflected through acts such as this which are truly revolting. However, Ziva is not the only one getting rape threats, such as the twins of Karan Johar have recieved numerous threats for rape, death and abuse. The things that children have to go through at such a young age are so repulgent and gross.

You can help by signing petitions like this, which have managed to get almost 160,000 signatures, which is addressed to the government of India to have bigger consequences and forces to help get justice for those who need it. Let’s help make India a better place! Together we must all come together and protest to help the thousands of people with no voice get their deserved justice. 

#StopRape #SafeIndia #JusticeForAll

The Opening of A Blockbuster In India

The Ascent Claims no Ownership over this Image

By Diya Barmecha

Theatres have always been a huge part of the entertainment industry. People go with their minds blank and exit with their hearts filled. From varying languages to varying genres, movies cater to people every need. Along with the perfect movie, theatres also take care of the perfect environment with typical theatre foods such as popcorn and soda. Although the concept of a drive-in theatre is a western concept, it is not entirely foreing to Indian soil. In the past in cities like Ahmedabad, Mumbai, and Bengaluru there have been people driving their cars to drive-in theatres and watching the magic, as well as stepping out of reality and into another’s reality.

For the movie Khaali Peeli starring Ananya Panday and Ishaan Khattar, a Bollywood analyst, Tara Adarsh took to twitter the announcement that this movie would feature in an online platform alongwith drive-in theatres in Gurugram and Bengaluru. In Gurugram, there has also been a supermoon drive-in event from 2nd-4th of October, where they screen multiple movies. They wanted to recreate the theatre feeling that most of the public has been missing from the shutting of theatres due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Unlock 4.0, which took effect on 21st September, the government allowed the opening of pen air theatres to operate with a maximum of 100 people. From then there has been Unlock 6 which has allowed the opening of theatres with 50% capacity for November 5th. However, with the scare of the virus and the close proximity of the seats in the theaters, in my opinion, not many people will go to the theatre. In a theatre there is no open air or space where you could sit with an open mask and enjoy the fresh air. However this could be achieved in a drive in theatres. 

Swaroop Banarjee the COO and the business head of Zee Live says, “families want to be able to get out and be entertained while remaining safe. They will be able to enjoy a film on a large LED screen with sound towers on a nice green grass venue. At the entrance, we will have body temperature checks, patrons will be given masks and shields and cars will go through a fumigation tunnel. F&B services will also be sanitised and socially distant,”

In support with him, Gautam Dutta the CEO of PVR cinemas said that it seemed like an exciting venture and, “even before COVID had become a harsh reality, PVR had already signed up to build a drive-in theatre in Mumbai.”

Given its location and the atmosphere of this nation, many people also argue with the practicality of this theatre. One of the most significant ones is the weather problem. If this drive-in theatre would be open for the long run, it would have to close in the monsoon season which is very unpredictable in India. There would also need to be a lot of ventilation so that people don’t have to waste their car’s fuel or feel an extreme heat. The CEO of Reliance Entertainment, Shibasish Sarkar brings up issues like the time to create such a space. He explains that by the time the theatre might be ready for use the coronavirus may go away. He also mentions, “Why would producers want to release their films in open-air cinemas? If I have to release my film Sooryavanshi, I want eyeballs and 4,500 screens and not the 20 open-air cinemas, however quickly they might get ready.”

Concerning the practicality the Senior Vice president of a movie screen manufacturing company called Harkness Screens says that  “you can’t use the same screen outdoors that you would use indoors (in a closed auditorium) because it would keep reflecting light.” Which would mean that there would need to be new screens made which would require even more time.

Using the example of the past, one of the most important issues was brought up by Manjoj Desai, Executive Director of Gaiety-Galaxy, “Mumbai had one such cinema by the name of Drive-In in Bandra. A lot of cases of sexual crimes were reported around that area when that cinema was operating,” Such issues are extremely serious and hard to keep in order.

All in all, the cons outweigh the goods. Even though we may want to go to a cinema, there are a plethora number of reasons why it won’t work. The opening of this blockbuster location seems something far from reality. During this pandemic we have gotten very experienced in watching movies at home and we need to continue to do so, for now.

FIR(e) On KBC

Source - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaun_Banega_Crorepati

by Diya Barmecha

One of the most famous Indian television game shows, Kaun Banega Crorepati first aired in 2000. Even after 20 years there are lakhs of viewers who await this show. Based on the British program of “Who wants to be a Millionaire,” this show allows contestants to win upto 7 crore Indian rupees. The contestants are asked questions about various topics and are given four options to choose from and 45 seconds to make their choice. To aid the contestants there are also many lifeline options available for their use. Majority of the show is hosted by Bollywood megastar, Amitabh Bachchan who is a respected actor and citizen of India. 

Due to the current coronavirus situation there have been significant changes made in the show. This was the first year where there was no live audience, to ensure safety. To try to duplicate this they will use the sound of the audience for the final edit. In past seasons there was an audience poll lifeline which has been replaced by a video-a-friend lifeline. 

Along with these new changes for the first time, there is also an FIR filed against the show for the first time due to a controversial question asked. On October 30th, Bachchan asked the contests social activist Bezwada Wlison and actor Anup Soni a question worth Rs. 6.40 lakh. The question was as follows: “On 25th December 1927, Dr BR Ambedkar and his followers burned copies of which scripture?” 

The options presented to the contestants were Vishnu Purana, Bhagavad Gita, Rigved and Manusmriti. All of the above which are Hindu sacred texts. The answer to the question above was Manusmriti. Amitabh Bachchan future explained Ambedkars actions as he said, “In 1927, Ambedkar condemned the ancient Hindu text Manusmriti to ideologically justify caste discrimination and untouchability and burned its copies.

The FIR or First Information Report is something that the Indian police prepares for each case to be investigated. This was filed by a Bharatiya Janata Party MLA named Abhimanyu Pawar. This legislator from Ausa in Latur district accused host, Amitabh Bachchan as well as the makers of the show, of hurting Hindu sentiments. He believes that action should be taken against the actor and Sony Entertainment Television for asking a question of religious texts on October 30th, 2020. He believes that this question was done “in an attempt to insult Hindus and create discord between Hindus and Buddhists who have been living in harmony.” 

The BJP MLA said that since all options of the questions pertain to the Hindu religion, “It is clear that the motive behind this question was to hurt the sentiments of Hindus.” After this allegation Big B received huge amounts of criticism on social media. One user of Twitter accused the makers of this quiz show of deliberately adding these questions to raise issues so that the show’s target rating point or TRP of the show goes up. With a high target rating point there is an increase in advertising that reaches a target audience by any campaign or advertisement.

We may never know why that question was asked or if there was an ulterior motive.. However, this show continues to inspire and entertain people. Just on 11th November, a local of Delhi, Nazia Nasim will win 1 crore from this show.

Nationalism’s role in Ads – A History of Censoring Ads in India

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A still from the now withdrawn Tanishq Ad
A still from the now withdrawn Tanishq Ad

By Manavi Nag

Recently, an advert from jewellery brand Tanishq depicted an interfaith marriage between a Hindu woman and a Muslim man. The advert featured the inter-faith household celebrating a baby shower with Hindu customs. However, the seemingly harmless advertisement was met with extreme backlash that resulted in Tanishq taking it down and issuing a statement. A Tanishq showroom in Gujarat also posted an apology note after people allegedly stormed into the store, demanding one. But what was the problem with the ad and was this a one-off event? 

People believed the advert was that it was an interfaith marriage and supposedly normalised “love-jihad,” which is a theory that alleges that Hindu women are forced into converting to Islam through marriage. This theory can be easily dispelled through many real-life examples and proves invalid. The advert was supposed to be an emblem of harmony and a culmination of faiths through marriage, but it was turned into a political boycott under the facade of nationalism and preserving Hindu ideals.

Nationalism and inter-faith marriage can co-exist harmoniously but the fact that an interfaith marriage is as a threat to an entire nation and religion is a reflection of the flimsy grounds on which something can be considered anti-national.

The fact alone that this ad was considered a threat and offensive towards Hindu culture, is a sign of the disturbing times we live in, wherein a progressive and beautiful ad used to market jewellery is condemned and taken down due to mass trolling and hate. 

This isn’t an anomaly of an event. A number of adverts have been boycotted because they are supposedly anti-national. 

 In 2015, during the Cricket world cup, an advert by Fevikwik (owned by Pidilite) was aired. The advertisement showed two soldiers, one Indian and one Pakistani at the Wagah Border. The ad showed the two soldiers trying to out-march one another when the Indian soldier realises that the Pakistani soldier’s shoe sole has come out. The Indian soldier fixed it for the Pakistani soldier and the text “Todo Nahi Jodo” (Don’t break, join) flashed on the screen. This advert was a ray of fresh air during the monotonous adverts, that usually air during Cricket World Cups. However, it was promptly classified as anti-national by the BJP Party and its supporters. MP Chintamani Malviya said the advert was an insult to Indian soldiers and was anti-national. India and Pakistan have been conflicting countries for years, rooting back to the Partition. He even wanted to take criminal action against the visionaries of the advert like the director, script-writer and company, for treason. 

Once again, this advert was supposed to emulate a message of peace and harmony between two traditionally conflicting countries. It was trying to send across a message saying that when bonded together, we are stronger than ever, rather than if we’re broken apart. However, this advert like, Tanishq’s, was deemed anti-national because it showed Muslim and Hindu soldiers being polite and helpful toward one another. Continuously it is observed that under the illusion of nationalism and preserving Indian ideals, harmless ads that are progressive and envision peace and harmony are subject to controversy and even treason.

In addition to this, it is not only the ads that spark debates about nationalism, but also the people featured in them. Deepika Padukone, one of Bollywood’s most well-known actresses’ visited Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) standing in solidarity with the students, in the midst of violent protests that had broken out, this January. Not many Bollywood icons are as vocal and public about their political stance as Deepika was. Although, Padokone’s actions outraged many and prompted boycotts. Quickly, she was labelled anti-national and was an example of what many Bollywood stars feared. Ads that she was featured in started to slowly disappear from television according to sources. Brands even started to disassociate from her and while some channels restricted the number of ads that featured her, some stopped showing the ads as a whole until the situation had calmed down in fear of backlash, being labelled anti-national and losing key audiences. One of the brands also asked to stop casting ads that featured her wholly for the next two weeks. 

Social media was outraged with Deepika’s actions and even called to boycott her upcoming release at the time Chhapaak. Members of the BJP Party publicly called to boycott the movie as a result of Deepika’s actions as she was “anti-national.” Provided that Deepika Padukone is also a highly successful woman not only in Bollywood but also Hollywood, her gender and level of success was definitely a contributing factor to the amount of hate and backlash she received. However once again, we see the theme of people using the shield of nationalism as a way to cause harm and spread backwards sentiments. In addition to this, instances like these should make us question the extent to which people will go to harm others with the protection and cover of nationalism as an excuse.

There is an exhaustive list of instances in which adverts have been censored, limited or completely taken down because they flaunted anti-national ideals. But when did an inter-faith marriage become anti-national? When did an Indian soldier helping a Pakistani soldier become anti-national and when did standing in solidarity to those fighting violence become a valid reason for ads and movie boycotts? Today, anything can be deemed anti-national by a large population of people, but what really is anti-national and when did things like peace-promoting ads and actions become that? Nationalism is no longer a valid concept but rather an excuse, facade and shield that many people use as a way to bring down forward and progressive steps in the right direction.  The censorship and deletion of ads in the name of nationalism should make us question a lot about the political climate we live in.

Mumbai
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