Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurved has managed to infuriate the Catholic community in Mumbai through their latest commercial on national television which depicted the holy Cross while urging Indians to boycott foreign products.
The Indian Christian Voice (ICV) has gone to the extent of writing to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other departments seeking a ban on the commercial, stating that it may incite hatred against Christians and lead to attacks on churches and other Christian institutions. According to reports, ICV feels that the commercial has ‘the potential to disrupt communal harmony.’ “In the commercial, Baba Ramdev has depicted the Cross, the very symbol of the Christian faith, and called upon Indians to boycott all foreign products. The commercial has the potential to destroy the very moral and secular fabric of India, eventually disrupting communal harmony. We have petitioned the President, Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Minister for Corporate Affairs and Advertising Standard Council of India demanding that this commercial advertisement be withdrawn forthwith and banned immediately from being screened on any public domain,” ICV president Dr Abraham Mathai said.
“The Christian community has no objections to the boycott he seeks, but we strongly object to the misuse of the Cross in the ad. The commercial has smartly depicted the Cross to show the British rule in India, in a bid to enable Baba Ramdev to arguably propagate his agenda of targeting a particular minority community. Such demagoguery will definitely result in increased attacks on churches,” he added.
The latest commercial features a black-and-white clip depicting the pre-Independence 'Swadeshi' movement and suddenly zooms into a map of India with three crosses jutting out in three directions. Between the crosses the words E, I and Co. are shown indicating the East India Company which brought upon the British colonial rule in India.
Lately the brand has been aggressive about its positioning while pitching MNCs as ‘thieves’. Even in its print advertisement it has come strongly against its global FMCG competitors. "Though we got political freedom 70 years back, economic freedom is still a dream," the print advertisement states. "The way East India Company enslaved and looted us, multinational companies are still doing the same by selling soap, shampoo, toothpaste, cream, powder and similar daily items at exorbitant price," it says. The multimedia campaign started running ahead of Independence Day.