Indian jewellery brand Tanishq pulls interfaith ad after boycott calls and 'Love Jihad' labels

Indian jewellery brand Tanishq has pulled an ad for its Ekatvam (the Hindi word for unity) collection following calls to boycott the brand. The ad, which is making its rounds online, shows a pregnant Hindu daughter-in-law being thrown a baby shower. The Muslim mother-in-law leads her around the household to admire the decorations. Near the end of the video, the daughter-in-law thanks the mother who then adorns her with jewellery.

In a statement on Twitter, Tanishq said the idea behind the Ekatvam campaign is to celebrate the coming together of people from different walks of life, local communities and families during these challenging times and celebrate the beauty of oneness.

"This film has stimulated divergent and severe reactions, contrary to its very objective. We are deeply saddened with the inadvertent stirring of emotions and withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well being of our employees, partners and store staff," it added.

Angered netizens labelled the ad "Love Jihad" on Twitter and called for others to boycott the jewellery brand. Meanwhile, some also said that Tanishq's statement was not an apology but "a camouflage accusation [towards the] Hindus" and called for the person responsible for the ad to be fired. Hindu-Muslim marriages have long been criticised in India and according to BBC, which cited a 2016 survey conducted by the Social Attitudes Research for India across New Delhi, Mumbai, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan, majority of respondents were against inter-caste and inter-religious marriages.

Meanwhile, prominent Indian actress Kangana Ranaut called the ad out for sexism, tweeting that the problem was not with the concept, but the execution calling the portrayal of the daughter-in-law to be that of a "fearful Hindu girl" and questioning why the protagonist was "apologetically expressed her gratitude".

She added that Hindus "need to be absolutely conscious" of what "creative terrorists are injecting in to the subconscious" and "scrutinise, debate and evaluate what is the outcome of any perception" the public.

On the other hand, opposition MP Shashi Tharoor was one of those who spoke out against the backlash, saying: "So Hindutva bigots have called for the boycott of Tanishq for highlighting Hindu-Muslim unity through this beautiful ad." He added that 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?"

Some netizens were also disappointed at Tanishq for pulling the ad. One of them said the the ad was "a solid necessary message than a promotion" and while the brand had reasons for removing it, it should have left it online to highlight the basic values. Meanwhile, another netizen said the ad withdrawl "shows how deep the hate propaganda has reached with social media".

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