Most people can get away with sharing fake news on WhatsApp, but the reaction is different if you’re a public figure with millions of followers.
‘Boycott CEAT’ is the top trend in India after the Chairman of the RPG Group, which makes CEAT Tyres, tried passing off photo from 2013 as one from the current Kumbh mela. To make matters worse, he made fun of sadhus. “Meanwhile at the Kumbh Mela, the international press is appalled at how low we wear our masks,” he’d written in a jibe at the underclothes the sadhus were wearing.
Soon after his tweet, it had been pointed out that the photo Harsh Goenka had shared was from 2013, so it wouldn’t have been necessary for the Sadhus to wear masks anyway.
Harsh Goenka had then deleted the tweet, but that hadn’t been enough to mollify people, who began asking for the boycott of CEAT Tyres. “Why should I buy @CEATtyres Owned by Anti Hindu owner?” wrote a Twitter user.
Other people shared old tweets of Goenka in which he’d seemingly made fun of Hindu deities. “This buffoon tycoon @hvgoenka is habitual offender of Hinduism,” wrote another user.
Some people said that Harsh Goenka’s behaviour was Hinduphobic. “This is absolutely shameful and totally unacceptable, @CEATtyres The behaviour of your chairman @hvgoenka is downright racist and #Hinduphobic Boycotting your product straight away,” said another user.
Yet other people said that they wouldn’t just boycott CEAT, but all of RPG Group’s products.
Harsh Goenka has now deleted the original tweet, but is yet to respond to the #BoycottCEAT trend. While it’s unclear how long the anger against CEAT will last, it certainly shows how public figures seem to find it easy to make fun of Hinduism, while remaining respectful of other religions — it’s unthinkable that Harsh Goenka could’ve compared the underclothes of religious figures of any other faiths with masks, but he did so without a second thought for Hindu sadhus. And as the reaction on Twitter showed, India seems to no longer take such comments lying down.