Tanishq ad on interfaith love controversy (one of the ads from the Tanishq’s Ekavatam campaign) should not come as a surprise to us Indians but doesn’t mean it should not be condemned. The inter-marriages have been a long time concern worldwide. So, add inter cast, interracial, inter-class and intersex to the list.
“Where there is love there is life,” said Mahatma Gandhi but when it came to his son Manilal marrying a Muslim woman, the Mahatma had a reservation and told him that (if he marries) ‘he can neither edit Indian Opinion nor can he return to India’ (from the book ‘Writing the Life of Manilal Mohandas Gandhi’ by Uma Dhupelia-Mesthrie). Of course, Manilal relented.
Marriages in India are primarily guided by social and strata considerations. Inter-marriages are not a common custom in India. At the same time, inter-marriages are not very prevalent in India and are rare. Even though it is perfectly legal in India, inter-marriage couples and consenting families are dealt with so-called social justice systems like honour killings, Uddhar (reformation), social boycott and ostracism.
Due to modernised education and liberal democracy, a generation of people have accepted inter-marriages but the older generation and a lot of social groups look at traditionally arranged marriage as a status symbol rather than a love bond. There is an unsavoury group too which is against intermarriages and it is the political group with ‘Love Jihad’ agenda. The Tanishq ad on interfaith love marriage comes at a time when the marriage as a status symbol believers have social media platforms to vent their disagreement.
The availability of social media for these groups are both a boon and a curse. It is a boon because no blood was shed or public property was damaged which were the previous avatar of getting heard. Barring the unfortunate incident of Tanishq Surat showroom, the outrage remained on social and electronic media. It is a curse because it gives a platform for these groups, dominantly the political group to dictate their agenda against a milder opposition. The method used by these political groups includes siege mentality, paranoia, bigotry, fiery aggression, anxious raving, hapless victimization and passionate rage.
The Tanishq ad on interfaith love portrays a Muslim family showering love and acceptance to a daughter-in-law from the Hindu religion. The outrage has led to the withdrawal of the advertisement by Tanishq, a TATA group company. In a statement, the company wrote “The idea behind the Ekavatam 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.”
The advertisement has been withdrawn, but we may not see any dearth in inter-marriages and the ensuing tug of war. No political party in India can afford to make India a Fundamilist country. It may cause the silent Mahatmas and Hriday Samrat’s (king of the heart, irony isn’t it?) heartburn, but India will continue to witness interfaith, inter cast, inter-class, intersex and even transnational marriages. Mother in law from other religions will keep welcoming daughter inlaws from other religions. The Tanishq ad on interfaith love will be remembered in books and discourses for a long time.