It is true that in the past, Tanishq—and others—have run campaigns that featured some kind of social messaging.
The backlash against the Tanishq advertisement featuring an inter-faith baby shower—for a Hindu mother-to-be in her Muslim husband’s family home—is more than disturbing. The intolerance witnessed on social media, as trolls and a few television anchors decided the commercial promotes ‘love jihad’, is so intimidating, it is not surprising the company has withdrawn the campaign. Tanishq might belong to the mighty Tata stable, but in these troubled times, when mobs take the law into their hands, and the police are seemingly incapable of controlling them, it is prudent to be meek; one cannot and does not want to take a chance with ordinary people’s lives. After all, why should one pay with one’s life when no crime has been committed? It is creditable the company was courageous enough to have decided to go ahead with the campaign in the first place.
Those holding forth, on the episode, with the view that the Tata management should not have backed down are most likely safely ensconced in their homes or offices far away from the madness; they are in no danger of getting beaten up, maimed or losing their lives. At worst they will be trolled. It is true that in the past, Tanishq—and others—have run campaigns that featured some kind of social messaging. Some of these did relate to communal harmony. However, those were very different times. Today, tolerance levels have dropped alarmingly, leaving little room for any rational debate; this is unbecoming of Indian society in general and media persons in particular. The response to the advertisement isn’t merely an “online uproar” as some have described it; it is way beyond that. In the place of an unbiased discussion, what we hear are strong opinions which can incite violence. While one cannot control individuals, the media needs to lead the narrative responsibly.