I have been, along with my family, a true fan of the philanthropic ethos that the House of Tata brings to the table at any of their business ventures. It is a thought that makes me believe that there is a better world out there somewhere — especially more so in these troubling times, a world where a foreign minority can teach other minorities how to win hearts and also prosper, simply by assimilating seamlessly into a country and its culture and not through violent and barbaric domination.
That is what the House of Tata means to me, an ex-Bombayite who loves the Parsis more than any other community she has known. It is affection and respect that has only grown with the years. And that has encouraged not just me but also millions of my fellow-Indians who have patronised their ventures — the Taj hotels, Tanishq, Taneira, to name a few, and turned the House of Tata into the international conglomerate it is today.
Over the last few days though, my bubble has burst. We have been unfortunately aware that India is deemed a ‘secular’ country, (whatever that means), and the pseudo-liberati would like us all to live as a faux-egalitarian society while being the very ones who sit back and hatch plans to tear to shreds the very core of this country which is and will always be, unapologetically Hindu. The way of being and living that accepts all into their fold absolutely and completely without need of conversion, either through greed or gore. It is a way of life to us, from times of yore, though plagued with violence and subjugation for centuries.
Having gained independence over seven decades ago, our freedom came with a price. The successive governments that ruled the majority of the following years have successfully yet again instilled in us, a feeling of inferiority in comparison to the supposed minority in this country. The same minority in the name of Islam are fighting to dominate the entire world too, through forced conversion, terrorism of all forms and in India, a devious plan of the worst kind — love jihad. They seek to prey on young Hindu girls, minds that are innocent and trusting and who are raised in the name of ‘Hindu-Muslim bhai-bhai’. And for those who aren’t, it is done through deceitful manipulation all the same. Pose as a Hindu boy, convince of elopement and then forced conversion and a nikah. And if not complied with, lose your life in ways that would make a civilised person’s skin crawl. And if the tables are turned and a Hindu boy marries a Muslim girl, without force of conversion, free to live as she wants, he is not spared either. Almost always the same fate of death awaits him and often the girl too, for daring to cross the lines that her supremely male worshipping religion has drawn for her.
We as a people have only now woken up to the fact that if we do not speak up in time and fight this menace, it will threaten our very existence. That our girls need to be saved. That they need to recognise that the love and promises that so entice them to blindly leave behind their present and walk into a future seemingly rosy, will soon turn into a trap in hell that has no way out but death. People are speaking up, cases are coming to the forefront and social media is proving to be a formidable ally in this, despite being faced with opposition that brands them right-wing and communal.
And then someone least expected hammers another nail in the coffin. The House of Tata. By showcasing an ad film of Tanishq, their jewellery brand, that ostensibly seeks to celebrate ‘oneness’ in this country. Where a Hindu girl, married into a Muslim family, looks immensely grateful that her mother-in-law chooses to celebrate the impending birth of her child by organising a ‘god bharai’ for her, a ceremony not prevalent in the Islamic faith. An ad that distressingly celebrates love-jihad in a way that can only pain further the scores of parents who have lost their daughters to situations which are as far removed from the one shown in the film as the earth is from the sun.
My question to the Tatas is this. Would you now come forward to make a film that celebrates a Muslim girl married to a Hindu boy celebrating the coming festival of Durga Puja? Would you then talk of the same ‘oneness’ that you seek to preach selectively? Am certain not. Hence my advice to you is, do what you do best — stick to living peacefully and prosperously as you have for the last so many centuries in this your host country, and leave the meaning of ‘oneness’ to us — children of a civilisation that has taught the world what it is to be a truly global family. And will continue to do so with no help required from anybody.
What is worse is that Tanishq chose to release this ad in a week when Hindu boys Rahul Rajput and Lakshmipathy have been brutally murdered for befriending Muslim girls? When a Hindu girl is beheaded by her Muslim husband in Sonbhadra in Uttar Pradesh for refusing to convert? And these are cases that have caught the attention of the media. Many more happen, many deaths go unnoticed. And this is the community you choose to hail as an inclusive one? One that does not legally, according to a Supreme Court ruling, allow a Hindu girl to inherit her Muslim husband’s property if she doesn’t convert — in fact her marriage is not even valid? But a Muslim girl married to a Hindu man does have that right and so does a Muslim married to a Hindu girl — he has a share in her ancestral property.
And when over the last two days, Tanishq faces the ire of various voices in the country rising up in protest against this disgusting propaganda, it releases a stylised corporate press-note which shows no remorse, speaks of no apology that it owes to the people who make this country and made the Tatas who they are today?
Tanishq is ‘saddened’ with the ‘inadvertent stirring of emotions’? What planet do you all live on? This is a country that you have been welcomed into centuries back and have flourished as you have nowhere else on the globe. And you don’t understand the sentiments and pulse of the people who live here? Did I mistakenly understand the gentility of thought and deed that I took as granted from you as a community?
And the last bit is the most unacceptable of it all. You ‘withdraw this film keeping in mind the hurt sentiments and well-being of our employees, partners and store-staff’?
How dare you insult us Hindus? How dare you make us sound intolerant and violent? Had we been the kind, you would not have been allowed into our country when you fled persecution in Persia from the very upholders of this religion that you now seek to glorify. We were tolerant then and we are tolerant now. Had we not been, today India would have seen riots and arson, your properties destroyed, your people harmed. If you really want to see that, make as I have suggested, a film glorifying a Hindu household where a Muslim girl is married into. And then we shall insinuate intolerance and violence.
Tender an unconditional apology now or face a total boycott from a section of our society that couldn’t care less about your so-called ‘oneness’ that is so selective. We demand and deserve it. Have the decency to man up and admit that you made a humongous mistake or forever lose the stature accorded to you as one of the icons of India. It will take no less than that for me and many others to repose our faith in you as a fellow-citizen yet again. It may not seal the crack but may help patch it at least.
I support the trend #BoycottTanishq. #BoycottTatas.