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This Ridiculous Ad Demeans The Struggle Of Thousands Of Students In India

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By Rohini Banerjee:

‘Azaadi’. If you’ve followed the news in the past few months, you would have heard of this word, and its usage, again and again. The slogan gained popular attention and media scrutiny after Kanhaiya Kumar, Umar Khalid and various other students began demanding ‘azaadi’ from the State’s clampdown on freedom of speech in educational institutions, from Brahmanical supremacy (in light of Rohith Vemula’s death), and, from the various acts of state-sponsored violence and oppression in Kashmir.

In light of recent events, it’s a word that holds a lot of weight—it’s meant to challenge harmful propaganda, to agitate for a democracy where dissenting voices aren’t suppressed, and most importantly, to push for basic civil liberties which many marginalised groups are being denied. However, seeing this word misused, taken out of context, commercialised, and mocked is more than shocking and disturbing in the new Yatra.com advertisement.

In the ad, we see a young man start randomly chanting slogans of ‘azaadi’ when he’s denied a window seat on a flight. He is dressed like Kanhaiya, and even mimics his voice and tone while chanting the slogan. The ad uses this very loaded word and reduces it to the most trivial of things such as flight seats, offers, hotel bookings and whatnot. In doing this, it is essentially mocking a political student movement which has sprung out of the fundamental rights of students being jeopardised—where many of them have faced both physical and emotional violence at the hands of the police and the state.

To demean a movement like this, and to try to commercialise it and milk the rage surrounding it to sell an app is perhaps the lowest blow one can manoeuvre, not just to student politics but to the very concept of democracy. It’s okay if one wants to resort to humour to advertise something, but to mock a cause like this, which has so many sides to it, which has affected so many students and continues to affect them, is irresponsible and petty. Watch the video and judge for yourself:

You must be to comment.
  1. Kudrat Dutta Chaudhary

    Its so weird, surprising and shocking to see that the very supporters of freedom of speech and expression are finding faults in this light weighted humourous ad.
    If there is azaadi to chant bharat ki barbadi then there is equal azaadi to make such an ad, which would atleast lighten the misused word.
    Principles should be equal, Azaadi can have different connotations for different people, and they all have the right atleast to put forth that opinion, least to say whether its Kanhaiya or Yatra.com .

  2. Vig

    So, Yatra.com doesn’t have Azaadi to advertise what they want ?

  3. satwik

    BURNOL MOMENT FOR ROHINI KAKIMA!! LOL

  4. Nisha

    One by one degrading articles…far from the truth..time’s high to unfollow YKA or else dont publish personal views if you name it Youth ki Awaaz!!

  5. abhinav prakash

    Please don’t waste your time on writing these baseless articles

  6. Bharat Misra

    commenters here seem to infer from this pos that the writer is against the ad being aired. Criticism isn’t equal to banning. freedom to criticise is also an ideal.

  7. Indumathi

    What the author is saying is not that yatra doesn’t have the azaadi to make such an ad . It
    has the azaadi and we audience have every azaadi to appreciate or criticize it . It’s just that
    this ad was in bad taste.I think its a trend in ad circles to make ads that make fun of student
    movements.First it was pepsi , now yatra .

  8. Joy

    Rohini, were you high on weed, while writing this article in Ganga dhaba in JNU?

  9. Nitin Bathla

    Haha. Totally agree with the comments below. THis article sounds like – “I am totally a supporter of freedom of speech unless no-one is criticising me”. Hilarious

  10. Rishav

    Hilarious ad. #Freedomofspeech. I think what irked Ms Mukherjee most was the idea that we can all stop doing ‘narebazzi’ and actually strive to get what we want in a smarter way. Constructively finding solutions rather than just trying to disrupt and rip apart society can indeed be a very dangerous idea to some. Thus they choose to brand such ideas/ads ‘ridiculous’ in the title itself.

  11. Kapeel

    Wow madam..
    The hypocrisy and the level of dumbness of this article amazes me.

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