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Did Tanishq’s Ekatvam ad actually united people?

Brand Tanishq is known to create path-breaking ads that have tackled stereotypes and have touched hearts. The ads have never been only about jewelry, but the messaging weaved in the story has always stood out and left an impact. At a time, when other brands reflected the rigid thinking of the society in their commercials, Tanishq was bold and latched to the progressive audience.

Brands under the Tanishq umbrella, like Mia or Divyam, have also maintained the same tonality and have urged women to move forward in their life and not get deterred by challenges framed by the society.

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On 9 October, Tanishq had released an advertisement of their new jewellery line that was titled Ekatvam, to celebrate “unity in oneness”. The advertisement featured a young pregnant woman, escorted to the garden at her residence by her mother-in-law for her baby shower ceremony. In the video, the young woman was surprised to see that the ceremony was organised as per Hindu rituals. She then asks her mother-in-law, “But this ceremony is not celebrated at your place, isn’t it?” With a gracious smile, her mother-in-law replies, “The ceremony to make the daughter happy is held in every house, isn’t it?”

Several users on the site accused the jewellery brand of promoting ‘love jihad and ‘fake secularism’ through the advertisement. ‘Love jihad’ is a term coined by Hindu fundamentalist groups to refer to an alleged campaign by Muslims to convert Hindu girls in the guise of love. After severe trolling, Tanishq removed the ad from YouTube, much to the dismay of several sections, who asserted that the jewellery brand should not have conceded defeat. The statement released by Tanishq spokesperson read, “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.”

All fair points, perhaps, and reflective of individual inclinations or emotions, but the deeper reason why so many people responded so instinctively, so indignantly, and so similarly, to the advertisement, actually lies in the brief exchange between the Muslim mother-in-law and the Hindu daughter-in-law.

Whether they realise this key point or not, subconsciously, what was most galling to offended viewers, was the manner in which the imperious mother-in-law patronisingly deigned to break from her rigid Islamic norms, for once, to condescend to the girl’s Hindu traditions which were otherwise banned in that home. Lost in their bubble of wooly-headed idealism, the ad-makers probably failed to realise that no one needs to be nice to anyone because of their faith, or caste, or race. Are those days of selective decency long gone?