Following social media posts on Kashmir by a zealous Pakistani employee of Hyundai Motors, the Indian offices of quite a few multinational companies (MNCs) are lining up to say ‘sorry’ for their respective transgressions. Facing calls for boycotts, Maruti Suzuki, Domino’s Pizza and KFC have issued apologies for similar messages by their counterparts outside the country. But then, India is where companies awkwardly issue sermons to Hindus on most of their occasions. Such woke corporate executives are yet to apologise, never mind the equally loud calls for boycotting these companies rises on social media every time.
On 7 February, KFC India says “deeply apologize for a post that was published on some KFC social media channels outside the country” after a verified handle of KFC had posted a message supporting the so-called Kashmir Solidarity Day over Facebook.
Many users condemned the social media message that supported what India considers a terrorist call to annexe Kashmir. Not only @hyundaiPakistanOfficial, a Twitter account of a Hyundai dealer in Pakistan, endorsed what it called the “struggle for freedom”, similar messages were seen also on Facebook and Instagram. In a fresh statement yesterday, Hyundai Motors issued an apology of an apology, saying it regretted the offence caused to Indians by “unauthorised Kashmir-related social media posts” and said the action was against its global policy.
Hyundai Motor’s subsidiary in India had also issued what they believed was an apology on 6 February, stating, “India is (the) second home to the Hyundai brand and we have a zero-tolerance policy towards insensitive communication and we strongly condemn any such view.”
Then, Domino’s Pizza faced backlash with #boycottdominos trending on Twitter for a similar message posted by its Pakistani handle. The company today was ‘sorry’ for the “unsolicited social media post”. It said, “This is the country we have called our home for the last 25 years, and we stand here to protect its legacy forever.”
Another international pizza franchise, Pizza Hut’s Pakistan handle on Instagram had posted a similar message. On 9 February, the QRS chain released a statement, saying “it does not condone, support or agree with the contents of a post circulating in social media”.
Maruti Suzuki issued a statement too, which said: “As (a) corporate policy, we do not align with any political or religious inclination in any part of the world. Such communication from our dealers or business associates on these topics represents neither our company position nor authorized by us.”
Yet another carmaker, based in South Korea like Hyundai Motors, Kia said today, “Kia India has taken note of unauthorized social media posts made by an independently-owned dealer based outside of the country, using the dealer’s own accounts. We have since taken strict measures to avoid such misuse of Kia brand identity and have put in place the processes to prevent a recurrence.”
Answering a question about the union government’s response to these private companies from the Shiv Sena’s Rajya Sabha MP Priyanka Chaturvedi yesterday, Union Minister Piyush Goyal had assured the house that the issue had been taken up in relevant quarters. Following that, South Korea’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong called up External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar. The Korean minister “regretted the offence” caused to the people and Government of India by the social media post, the Ministry of External Affairs said last evening.
Meanwhile, the MEA’s official spokesperson Arindam Bagchi said, “We had seen a social media post on the so-called Kashmir Solidarity Day was made by Hyundai Pakistan. Immediately after this social media post on Sunday, 6 February 2022, our Ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai Headquarters and sought an explanation. The offending post had been removed subsequently. The ambassador of the Republic of Korea was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday 7 February 2022.”