Six years ago, I never thought that an advertisement would be stopped because it shows the Hindu religion in a ‘wrong way’. I am talking about Tanishq’s advertisement which is being much-discussed these days.
Why is this in the news? In this advertisement, a Hindu woman has her baby shower ceremony performed by her Muslim family. When she asks her mother-in-law if they do not have this ritual in their family, in response, the mother-in-law says that the ritual of making daughters happy is there in every household.
This advertisement was found to be ‘anti-Hindu’ by people, and it revealed such a reality of our society which hasn’t been seen during the time of any government. We have now become communal. Why am I saying this? Because the advertisement, which spoke of Hindu-Muslim unity, has become ‘anti-Hindu’. The ad promoted interfaith love, which it subsequently pulled off the air. While some called the ad a symbol of love and unity, many were quick to attack the brand, calling it ‘anti-Hindu’ and alleging ‘love jihad’.
Whenever we watch a Bollywood film, we want that love to reach its destination and in the end, both of them get together but the reality is very surprising. What is ‘love Jihad‘? It is an Islamophobic conspiracy theory. It alleges that Muslim men target women belonging to non-Muslim communities to convert them to Islam by feigning love. It is also anti-women because it tells that women do not have any thinking of their own and that anyone can ‘trap’ and ‘fool’ women. It also shows patriarchal thinking., that women cannot choose their partner.
India is on its way to becoming a superpower, but their mindset about women has not changed, even today. The Hadiya case, from 2016, when a Homeopathic medical student’s family from Kerala alleged she was ‘brainwashed’ and forced into marriage, added fuel to the aggressive polarization campaigns. The Uttar Pradesh police recently formed a Special Investigation Team to probe inter-faith marriages in Kanpur, and to crack down on what Hindu nationalists call ‘love jihad’.
When the state wants to convert your love into a conspiracy, what can you do?
Love is much higher than religion and caste. By giving this the name of ‘Jihad’, we are making it difficult to love. We can easily learn to hate but why do we not learn to love? Love can cross boundaries and can end the conflict between the two religions. The Constitution of India gives every citizen the right to love and marry anyone. According to Article 25, we can adopt any religion as our own. The state should have no role in this.
As children, we used to read that despite many castes and religions in India, we are one. Our constitution talks of unity in diversity. Who are these people who are harming India’s secular image?
I do not see the country that I used to see in my childhood. I am disappointed that this is not Ambedkar and Nehru’s India. This is not the India whose Constitution took three-and-a-half years to be drafted. This is not the India that Bhagat Singh had envisaged. This India is Modi-Shah’s India. This is the India of the saffron brothers, which has nothing to do with unity. This advertisement was talking about unity but now it has been removed. We all have to think about how we can bring back our ‘old India,’ which spoke of unity and integrity.