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Monday, April 12, 2021

7 old ads on Indian television that teach us secularism today

A lot of buzzes are going on about Tanishq ad being removed from all platforms. The popular jewellery brand has been mired in controversy following their newly released advertisement. Why? Because the advertisement is based on a Hindu-Muslim couple. And the so-called “secular” India can’t digest the commercial because it is the era of the extreme right-minded RSS’s rule that guides the Centre. Secularism, tolerance, freedom of speech, all these are mere words or phrases in our Constitution and no practice of these can be witnessed in our real everyday life. Rather the regular life is mired with incidents of arrest of activists/journalists/students in sedition charges, the acquittal of Hindu leaders in the mosque vandalism case, violence against Dalit women and the killing of minorities over their eating habits (read beef consumption).

But our country was not this intolerant just a couple of years ago. We were more tolerant and accepting of each other. A mere 40 seconds of ad based on secular India didn’t make us “insecure” so that we immediately ask for its ban. In the jewelry brand’s advertisement, a Hindu woman who is married into a Muslim family is set for her baby shower. Her in-laws are shown to have gone great lengths to make their Hindu daughter-in-law feel comfortable– by performing Hindu rituals. And just like everything else, the cancel culture brigade has come together– they now want the jewellery brand to banned. Boycott Tanishq is now one of the top trends on Twitter. Just around 5 or 10 years ago, India tv channels saw many ads that showed beautiful unity between different religions and cultures. Nobody ever sought for those commercials’ removal. It means things have changed and intolerance grew like wildfire in just the past 2 or 3 years. In this article, we shall look at the old Indian tv ads that showed strong unity and tolerance between religions and gave the important message of a secular India.

7 old ads on India TV that teach us secularism today

1. Hamara Bajaj

This is one ad that holds a lot of nostalgia for almost all the viewers of Indian television in the late 80s. The 40-second commercial that came out in 1989 showed middle-class Indians from different religious backgrounds using the two-wheeler that created a revolution in the Indian personal vehicle industry. The ad was easy to relate to and it portrayed a strong message of a secular India. It was a very popular commercial and the Bajaj scooter also turned out to be a very popular product of the company. Nobody ever objected the ad’s content. Maybe things were more welcoming then.

2. Dycam CCTV

The company of Dycam relased this beautiful ad three years ago where a Muslim man comes to a Hindu household to meet an elderly couple whose son has moved to Australia. The Muslim man reminds the couple how he used to be friends with their son Sumit and play together in the neighborhood. Previously suspicious of the man’s intention as he was a Muslim, finally Sumit’s mother recognized his son’s friend and called her “beta”. She even offered him sweets. The ad shows how unreasonably we people of different religions nurture suspicion and hate about each other in our conscience. Watch the ad here.

3. KBC commercial

A brilliant ad was released by the Kaun Banega Crorepati authorities to promote their quiz show presented by legendary Amitabh Bachchan around 5 years ago. In that ad, we see how it begins with an antagonistic atmosphere as a Hindu youth starts his journey from home to join his KBC shoot after getting selected in the prelims. The youth’s Muslim neighbors taunt him and the Hindu locals give them sharp replies. But when sitting at the hot seat during a question, the youth calls his Muslim chacha in phone a friend option and to seek an answer to clear the hurdle. And thus, both the communities understand the importance of staying united. We wonder, if such ads can be made this beautifully just a few years ago, why so much intolerance now with the Tanishq ad?

4. United Colors of Benetton

Famous apparel manufacturer, UCB released a unique commercial based on Hindu-Muslim brotherhood. When you start watching it, it may seem that two groups of boys with Hindu and Muslim backgrounds are getting ready for a violent clash but the truth lies in the climax. And the ad finishes with a strong message. The ad shows as so much hatred is already filled within us about other religions that we assume only violence and further hatred. But this commercial breaks this myth and spread awareness. Watch it here.

5. Brookbond Red Lebel tea

This tea brand is famous for its not one but multiple ads on the idea of secularism. Time and again, the brand has used its platform to spread the message of unity and brotherhood. Be it the Ganesh chaturthi ad where a Muslim idol maker sells a Ganesh idol to a customer and also sharing his deep knowledge about Hindu mythology or a Hindu couple enjoying their evening tea at a Muslim household after shedding their initial inhibition of stepping into a house that nurtures a faith different from theirs, all the commercials are strong with a steady message of secularism and religious freedom. All these ads of the tea label were released within the past 5 years and nobody that time asked the commercials to be deleted or withdrawn.

6. Surf excel

This is another important commercial that teaches us a great lesson in today’s scenario. Surf Excel detergent brand released their Holi ad around 2 years ago and it became a massive hit with its simple yet strong content and message. The ad shows how children can offer a great example of religious brotherhood and harmony. The ad is one of the best commercials Indian tv could ever witness. Similarly, the brand released another commercial featuring the Ramadan festival. This shows how balanced the company’s ad contents are and no particular religion is hyped or neglected. Both the ads earn our respect. You can watch them here.


Now the list can go further for there are many more such ads that our Indian tv channels once used to show. No Sanghi or any organization objected them or asked for their removal. If you look at history, ads with “vulgar” or “sex” contents were banned from screening for Indian tv is mostly a family time affair where you sit and watch programmes together with all your family members, including children. But the recent attack on commercials showing pure Hindu-Muslim brotherhood is simply condemnable. We hope things change and India gets back its secular identity.

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