Complaint filed against Flipkart Advertisement which is defamatory, sacriligeous, communal, racist and hurting the sentiments of the Indian Gorkha community and insulting khukri emblem of the Indian Gorkha Brigade and Assam Rifles.
Shri Robin Hibu IPS,
Inspector General of Police (Delhi Police)
Nodal officer for Northeast
Sub: - Complaint against Flipkart Advertisment which is defamatory, sacriligeous, communal, racist and hurting the sentiments of the Indian Gorkha community and insulting the khukri emblems of the Indian Gorkha Brigade and Assam Rifles.
(Above) Flipkart advertisement dated 22 August 2016 front pages on national dailies such as Times of India, The Hindu and others.
1. In two advertisement posted online, for which we have shared the link below, as well as being shown in TV and print media,
2. Description: We want to draw your attention to the racist advertisement currently being propagated by Flipkart. The ad carries a boy portrayed as a security guard wearing a belt prominently saying SECURITY along with a Nepali cap with a badge of khukris which denote that he is a Nepali\Gorkhali. Thus a security guard has been depicted as a professional icon of the Nepali community creating a stereo-type affecting all Indian Gorkhalis.
3. Their advertisement makes a mockery of the Gorkha community, and stereotypes us as being Chowkidars with overly exaggerated and highly offensive [which they may consider as being funny] Hindi accent. Stereotyping a community is the most basic forms of racism and by promoting their business using racist stereotyping; Flipkart has shown how insensitive they are and at the same time exposed the hypocrisy of our great nation. While we cry for blood when an Indian is ‘stereotyped and racially abused’ in foreign shores, we tend to silently accept stereotyping as an accepted form of comedy when it is done to the minorities in our own nation. Flipkart has insulted the Gorkhali/Nepali community of India by perpetuating across national media to 1.3 billion Indians that the Khukri bearers are a community representing mere security guards.
4. Sir, the Gorkha community holds esteemed status in the world as immortalized by the words of Late Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, MC, Ex-Chief of Indian Army ‘If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or a Gorkha.’ The contributions made by Gorkhali community towards our nation building is unprecedented. In each and every sphere, the Gorkhas have always performed to the best of our abilities and contributed towards making India one of the greatest nations on earth. From Freedom Fighter Sahid Durga Malla whose statue adorns the Parliament grounds, to INA Capt. Ram Singh Thakuri who gave music to iconic INA songs like Kadam Kadam Badaye Ja and also to the current band version of our National Anthem, to Shri Damber Singh Gurung whose role as the member of Constituent Assembly in framing the Constitution of our great nation was highly praised by Baba Saheb Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the Gorkhas have provided illustrious luminaries who have led from the front in helping get India Independence and ushering in democracy.
5. Following the promulgation of our constitution, Gorkhas have worked tirelessly in each and every sphere to make a name for themselves and our nation, as reflected in Gorkha icon Shri. Pawan Kumar Chamling the longest serving Chief Minister in India ever. Be it in the form of legendary football player Chandan Singh Rawat representing India in Olympics at the Helsinki (1952), or in the form of iconic Indian National Football Team Captain Shyam Thapa, to the current Indian National Team Captain Sunil Chettri, Olympian and this year’s Khel Ratna awardee Jitu Rai to Arjuna Award awardee Shiva Thapa, from former Indian National Hockey team Captain Bharat Chettri to Ms. Chung Chung Bhutia of the Indian National Women’s Football team,the Gorkhashave excelled in the field of sports. In the form of award winning scientists Dr. Sunita Pradhan and Dr. Sarala Khaling, to the internationally acclaimed Artist Ms. Hemlata Pradhan, to noted social worker recently felicitated by the Hon’ble President of India Ms. Rongu Souriya to Internationally acclaimed author Ms. Jyoti Thapa Mani,the Gorkhali women have made immense contribution towards our nation. In the world of arts and entertainment who doesn’t get mesmerized by the works of National Award winning actress Ms. Gitanjali Thapa, or by the works of India’s top cinematographer Mr. Binod Pradhan or Mr. Nima Namchu the Chief Creative Officer at Havas Worldwide, or by Mr. Danny Denzongpa one of the most illustrious Gorkhali sons in Bollywood. In terms of bravery and patriotism, there is no parallel to Gorkha contributions in keeping our nation safe. If we start listing the name of the Gorkha brave-hearts, it would take us at least 2 years to write them down, suffice it to say the Gorkha Regiment, has, as of today won 6 Theater Honors, 18 Battle Honors, 3 Param Vir Chakras, 5 Ashok Chakras, 28 Maha Vir Chakras, 75 Vir Chakras and numerous other honors and citations. India’s first Field Marshal Gen. Sam “Bahadur” Manekshaw was a Gorkha by creed, and so is India’s current Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Dalbir Singh Suhag.
6. From academics to entertainment, from sports to defense of our nation, the Gorkhas despite our low numbers have contributed immensely towards nation building. Yet, Flipkart has chosen to show Gorkhas as Chowkidars with funny accent, thus sullying the image of our community.
7. Flipkart uses Gorkha religious and cultural artifact (Bhadgauley Topi/ Gorkha Hat) with Khukuri insignia as part of security personnel Uniform. The advertisement sends out a perception that the cultural Gorkha topi with Khukuri insignia is a part of the security uniform and everyone wearing it is chowkidar.
8. Much like what Pagdai and Kirpan mean to the Sikh community, the Gorkha topi and Khukuri are the biggest religious and cultural symbol for the Gorkhas, and every Gorkha, irrespective of theirstatus in the society - be it a watchman, teacher, sportsperson, or the army takes pride in wearing our topi. To use such articles of immense religious and cultural significance for derogatory advertisement and making a mockery of the accent in which Gorkhalis speak Hindi,is a deliberate act of stereotyping the entire community as only security guards and watchmen who cannot speak Hindi normally, thus establishing our community as either being uneducated or foreigners who cannot speak Hindi properly. Also This is a cheap exploitation of culture and customs for commercial gain and it is utterly offensive and unethical. Most of all, insulting the Khukri which is the sacred weapon of India’s seven Gorkha Regiments (the 1st GR, 3rd GR, 4th GR, 5th GR, 8th GR, 9th GR, 11th GR) as they are deployed in defence operations across the most hostile terrains and situations across India. Even the Chief of Indian Army General Dalbir Singh Suhag wears the khukri on his hat as he belonged to the 5th Gorkha Rifles.
9. We want to understand the intention of Flipkart in using thereligious and cultural symbol of a community to subtly depict the entire Gorkha people in a bad light. How did the ‘creative directors’ of the advertisement even think that the Gorkha Topi and Khukuri is a part of any security uniform? And that Gorkhas can only speak Hindi in a very offensive accent?
10. We have also found out that Flipkart has in an earlier advertisement depicted children with mongoloid features as being beauty parlor workers, while round eyed “Indian” [according to Flipkart norms] looking children as their rich patrons, thus stereotyping the entire NE women as being beauty parlour workers (https://youtu.be/-JpjpiC0ZpI)
11. Given the repeated instances of Racist portrayal of our Gorkha community, as well as racist portrayal of NE communities, we demand that a case of hurting Gorkha religious sentiments under Indian Penal Code section 153(A) and racial discrimination and promotion of racism under Indian Penal Codesection 295 (A) be immediately filed against Flipkart CEO Binny Bansal (Corporate Address - Flipkart Internet Private Limited, Vaishnavi Summit, Ground Floor, 7th Main, 80 Feet Road, 3rd Block, Koramangala Industrial Layout, Bangalore – 560034, Karnataka, India, Ph - 0124-6150000) (Email – firstname.lastname@example.org and Virat Tandon CEO, of Mullen Lintasthe Ad agency which created these racist advertisements.
12. In addition, we demand an immediate public apology from Flipkart across various platforms - online, on TV and Print media for hurting the sentiments of over 12.5 million Indian Gorkhas and removal of these highly offensive advertisementsfrom all forms of communications immediately.
Lt. Col (Retd) Sukul Pradhan
Jyoti Thapa Mani (Author – The Khukri Braves)
Rajen Pandey Chhetry – Gorkha Social Activist
General Secretary - Nepali Sammelan Delhi
President - Gorkha Youth and Students’ Association of India (GYASA)
Gorkha Autonomous Council Demand Committee (GACDC)
Hamro Swabhimaan Trust
All India Kirati Khambu Rai Association
All Manipur Gorkha Students’ Union (AMGSU)
President – All Manipur Gorkha Students’ Union, Delhi
D.M College Gorkha Students Union, Manipur
Gorkha Foundation India
1. Shri. M. Venkaiah Naidu, Hon’ble Minister for Information & Broadcasting
2. Dr. Jitendra Singh, Hon’ble MoS Development of North East Region, MoS PMO
3. Shri. SS Ahluwalia, Hon’ble MoS Parlimentary Affairs, MoS Farmers Welfare, Member of Parliament Darjeeling
4. Shri. Pawan Kumar Chamling, Hon’ble Chief Minister Govt of Sikkim
5. Shri. Bimal Gurung, Chief, Gorkhaland Territorial Administration
6. General Dalbir Singh, Chief of Army Staff (COAS)
7. Shri. Justice H L Dattu, Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission
8. Shri Naseem Ahmed, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities
9. Shri. RP Sharmah, Member of Parliament, Tezpur
10. Shri. PD Rai, Member of Parliament (LS), Sikkim
11. Shri. Hishey Lachungpa, Member of Parliament (RS), Sikkim
12. Shri. Benoy Roychowdhury, Chairman (ASCI)
13. Lt. Gen Shakti Gurung (Retd) – Gorka Kalyan Board, Uttarakhand
14. President, Gorkha Janmukti Students Union, Darjeeling
15. President, All Assam Gorkha Students Union,
16. President, Gorkha National Liberation Front (GNLF)
17. President, Bharatiya Gorkha Parisangh (BGP)
18. President, All Manipur Gorkha Students Union
19. President, Gorkha Janmukti Yuva Morcha, Darjeeling
20. President, Gorkha National Students Front, Darjeeling
Why The Gorkha Community Is Furious With Two Flipkart Ads
Remember the last Gorkhali character you saw in a Hindi movie? Yes, the same one who played the watchman?
Isn't it problematic that the above sentences could be referring to any Gorkhali character in any Hindi film and would still be factually correct?
It is in common knowledge that mainstream Hindi films and advertisements tend to stereotype Gorkhali people as watchmen.
|Indian Gorkha Community Furious With Flipkart Ads|
If you are familiar with the previous Flipkart ads, you know that they have a bunch of kids backed with adult voiceovers, making simplistic ads seem cute. The two new ads are of the same kind.
In both the ads, two watchmen try to warn the sahebji and the madamji from ordering online because one cannot trust these online portals. To this, the sahebji and the madamji say that with Assured Flipkart, there is ensured and fast delivery of the orders. Of the two watchmen, one is Gorkha and is seen wearing the traditional Bhadgauley Topi, a hat that the Gorkhas wear.
What Flipkart didn't foresee was that these ads would offend the Gorkha community. The portrayal of the watchman was not taken lightly by the community.
A complaint letter submitted to the Delhi Police by the Gorkha Youth and Students' Association of India (GYASA), said, "Their advertisement makes a mockery of the Gorkha community, and stereotypes us as being Chowkidars, with overly exaggerated and highly offensive [which they may consider as being funny] Hindi accent."
It added, "Stereotyping a community is the most basic forms of racism and by promoting their business using racist stereotyping; Flipkart has shown how insensitive they are and at the same time exposed the hypocrisy of our great nation. While we cry for blood when an Indian is 'stereotyped and racially abused' in foreign shores, we tend to silently accept stereotyping as an accepted form of comedy when it is done to the minorities of our own nation."
Speaking to HuffPost India, lawyer and Gorkha Rights Activist, Roshni Rai, said, "I stay in Mumbai and people here refer to watchmen as Gorkha. Many people from the community do not want to disclose their identity because of that. People don't know that there are Nepalis in India. They think if one is Nepali then they must be from Nepal. But we are Indians and proud to be. This kind of advertisements really hurt the sentiment of the community. So, people are filing complaints against Flipkart. We demand an apology from them."
The complaint by GYASA also mentions that the ad shows the kid-watchman wearing the Bhadgauley Topi or the Gorkha Hat with Khukuri insignia indicating that it is part of a security personnel's uniform.
Speaking to HuffPost India, Dinesh Sharma from GYASA said, "What I found personally very offensive is that a cultural artefact of my community has been used to portray that this is what watchmen's uniforms are. Like a Kirpan for the Sikh community, no one can depict the topi so derogatorily. It is very demeaning. Gorkhas have a history of defending he country. When you show that this hat in TV and pop culture as something that security guards wear, it is demeaning. This hat is our pride. We give this to dignitaries. It holds high value in my community. I would have laughed at a caricature of a Gorkha person because I don't object to the portrayal of members of my community wearing the security uniform. This is the premise of our protest."
The complaint letter also mentioned a previous ad by Flipkart that "depicted children with mongoloid features as being beauty parlor workers, while round eyed "Indian" [according to Flipkart norms] looking children as their rich patrons, thus stereotyping the entire NE women as being beauty parlour workers."
In addition to an apology, GYASA has filed a complaint against Flipkart with Delhi Police and the complaint has been handed over to the Nodal Officer for Northeast.
Why I Don't Agree with Flipkart Advertisement and will Protest?
By Dinesh Sharma
The recent advertisement by #Flipkart has drawn a new debate within the Gorkha community and the Northeast region at large. This is not the first time that Flipkart has indulged people with a subtly racist message in their advertisement. A previous ad by the same company has some NE lookalikes as massage and beauty parlor attendants. So, when I say I protest, it is not for this one ad, but the continuous trend of negative stereotype of the Gorkhas and the NE region portrayed in Indian popular media.
Many amongst my own circle of friend see nothing wrong with the ad. they question my progressiveness and broad mindedness when I say that such ads should not be encouraged. I am often accused of letting my emotions rule over practicality. That, I have no 'sense of humor' and I lack the basic progressiveness of the 21st century.
Okay, I accept and be it so. But, let me state my position clear.
A journalist friend asked me "Gorkhas have been depicted like this in popular media for a long time now. Why this protest now?"
Perhaps the very reason that we never complained about such negative stereotyping, today we see this trend of ridiculing and stereotyping culture and people. Nobody actually bothered to think about the deep repercussions such negative portrayal will bear on our today and future. Such popular media gimmick creates the impression that someone donning the ‘Bhadgaule’ hat or ‘khukri’ is a security guy, watchmen, or a domestic help.
This topi and Khukuri is something very important to my identity as a Gorkha and a cultural artifact which we proudly wear. Be it politicians, sportspersons, intellectuals, or a common man, we all take pride in wearing a Gorkha topi. It holds a cultural significance to us and we also gift the topi as a token of love and appreciation to guests in our villages, festivals, and social gatherings.
Now when these media start portraying that Topi and Khukuri are for security guys, it is a personal insult to me. This is clearly demeaning and the negative stereotyping is a wilful malice intentionally directed against us. Would these ads dare to use a 'Kirpan' or 'pagdee' as something for security? No, because their arse will burn and they know it.
When a world-class company shows this level of cultural illiteracy, it is pertinent to question their achievements and success level. They may be financial giants, but they seem to lack those basic human values of RESPECT and DIGNITY which are the pillars of any civilized world.
I protest this ad because if I don't do it today, I will lose the pride of wearing my Topi tomorrow or talking about the amazing Khukuri.
I understand that there are thousands of Gorkhas working a dignified life working as Security and domestic help around this country. I also know many more Gorkhas who are leading this nation in sports, academics, defence, art, and culture. Would you treat them as security guards when they wear their cultural artefact?
If I don’t protest, the kids will forget all our achievements and contributions to the nation saying we are all security guards and watchmen
If I don’t protest, my community stands at the risk of being labelled as security and the funnily accented Chinese momo and chowmein.
If I don't protest, they will trample all our achievements in military, Sports, art, and culture and bring it down to the level of heavily accented "Saabji, bolo Saabji"
If I don’t protest these popular media will trivialize my proud cultural heritage, and our history saying we are nothing but watchmen and guards.
Sources GYASA and huffingtonpost