Tuesday, November 29th, 2022 02:17:55

Spark of nationalism : Thinking of Modi era

By Shyam Jaju
Updated: February 13, 2022 8:13 pm

The recent incident of many MNCs in Pakistan expressing solidarity with the so called ‘Kashmir Day’ in Pakistan has exposed the dubious character of many MNCs working in India.

On February 05, a number of Pakistani social media handles of these MNCs published infographics showing their solidarity and support for the lopsided Kashmir card of our sworn enemy and incorrigible neighbour Pakistan. At least,11 international companies (MNCs) posted propaganda content against Kashmir. These included from auto majors Hyundai, Kia, Suzuki, Isuzu& Toyota to the likes of KFC, Dominos besides many others like Bosch & Osaka. The tone of their messages was same and even the texts in all infographics cannily resembled each other giving credence to the theory that it was all orchestrated by the Pakistan ISPR.

Pakistan used social media accounts of MNCs against India. The MNCs also followed the instructions of Pakistan. It’s nothing but information & economic warfare.

The backlash and reaction from Nationalist Indians was swift and sharp. By the morning of 6th February in India, it was all over social media. #BoycottHyundai was trending on top with over 3 lac tweets. Indians were up in arms. People denounced this duplicity and condemned the act in no uncertain words. They compared it with sedition. Within hours on Sunday, thousands of booking cancellation requests were received by Hyundai and Kia dealerships across India. Netizens posted their intent to never buy from these MNCs and instead urged people to buy from home grown giants Tata & Mahindra. Upset citizens used all social media platforms to express their anger.

In no time Hyundai India was forced to issue a statement but they fell short of issuing an apology. Instead, they expressed their anguish over being offended by Indians’ reaction.  The statement by Hyundai Motor India said that the “unsolicited social media post linking Hyundai Motor India” was “offending” the company’s “unparalleled commitment” to the country.

Their statement smacked of their smugness and arrogance. This further angered nationalist Indians and caused massive outrage and backlash. The netizens pointed out that “While not criticising @HyundaiPakistan Indian arm of @Hyundai_Global is not even saying that Kashmir is an integral part of India. Speaks tons about their commitment to India. Doesn’t this call for #BoycottHyundai?”People across spectrum demanded that the parent company of the Automaker must explain the company’s “global stand on anti-India rhetoric”. They also chastised Hyundai that instead of fooling them with their “wishy-washy words”, they must tender an unequivocal apology.

When calls for complete boycott grew louder and Hyundai was asked by netizens to go to Pakistan where it sold a little over 5 thousand units in comparison to over 5 lac sold in India. Netizens also demanded that Hyundai dealers and the Government of India to clarify their stand. And both of them responded. A proactive MEA under Dr Jayshankar acted swiftly. The Embassy of India in Seoul demanded clarification from the parent company of Hyundai & Kia motors in South Korea. Dr Jayshankar tweeted informing a call received from the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea.

MEA spokesperson Arindam Bagchi spokesman informed that the Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) summoned the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Monday (February 7).In a statement, he said, “We have seen a social media post on the so-called Kashmir Solidarity Day was made by Hyundai Pakistan. Immediately after this social media post on Sunday, 6th February 2022, our Ambassador in Seoul contacted the Hyundai headquarters and sought an explanation. The offending post had been removed subsequently.”

“The Ambassador of the Republic of Korea was summoned by the Ministry of External Affairs yesterday, 7 February 2022. The strong displeasure of the Government on the unacceptable social media post by Hyundai Pakistan was conveyed to him. It was highlighted that this matter concerned India’s territorial integrity on which there could be no compromise,” he added.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs also asked Hyundai to take appropriate action regarding this matter. It informed that EAM S Jaishankar had a call from the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea Chung Eui-Yong wherein he conveyed India’s displeasure on the issue, besides discussing other bilateral matters. Yong expressed regret over the incident.

Another bold action came from FADA – Federation of Automobile Dealers Association. They issued a strongly worded statement and demanded clarification from the auto makers. Their President Vinkesh Gulati tweeted the FADA’s demands.

Both these swift actions from MEA and FADA brought Hyundai motors India to its knees and it issued another statement 48 hrs after the controversy. The parent company Hyundai Motor issued the statement saying that it does not comment on “political or religious issues in any specific region”, and that it “deeply regrets” any offence caused to Indians. The move is a step to further distance itself from a Hyundai dealer in Pakistan who shared a tweet offering solidarity with Kashmir.

Following Hyundai, other perpetrators of the outrageous act tendered their unconditional apology too. Japanese automaker Suzuki Motor Corporation on Tuesday regretted ‘the hurt to sentiments’ in India caused by unauthorised social media posts of its Pakistani dealers and business associates supporting separatists in Kashmir. Earlier on Monday, Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) chain KFC apologised and similarly, Pizza Hut also issued a statement saying “it does not condone, support or agree with the contents of a post circulating in social media” after facing backlash over an Instagram post on Kashmir by its official handle in Pakistan.

It is time for the government of India to issue guidelines for MNCs working in India. Pakistan is using social media accounts of international companies as a tool against Kashmir which is nothing short of information warfare. The government must take cognizance and issue strict rules of conduct for such international players in India.

Govt should announce it as a policy that any MNC that engages in issues other than their business will have the prospect of getting their license revoked and also attract heavy fine and penalty for their misadventure. Such strong actions by GOI will discourage terror supporters.


By Shyam Jaju

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