A new advertisement that Coca-Cola unveiled during the Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb 2 has sparked quite a controversy.
Named 'It's beautiful', the ad depicts US' diversity by showing people of different immigrant communities singing "America the Beautiful" in seven different languages, including Hindi.
Individuals featured in the footage represented the melting pot that is the US. One of the vignettes also depicted what are said to be the first gay parents shown in a Super Bowl ad.
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Back in November, 2013, a gap ad had gained widespread attention after it was vandalised with racist comments at a subway station in New York.
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The Gap ad featured renowned Indian-American actor and designer Waris Ahluwahlia along with filmmaker Quentin Jones with the hashtag 'Make Love'.
As the polar vortex sworls around North America, with all the 50 states of the USA recording temperatures below freezing point, dropping to a record low of -26C in Chiberia (the new name for Chicago), cold enough to freeze oil, Meteorologist Eric Holthaus demonstrates what happens when you toss a pot of boiling water into the sky when it is -21°F with a wind chill of -51°F in a video shot on Jan 6, 2014 in Viroqua, WI, USA.
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In his recent blotg post, BJP leader Arun Jaitley has said that the party's prime ministerial candidate and Gujarat Chief Minister, Narendra Modi, should not apply for a US visa, even though a Gujarat court has ruled that he will not be prosecuted for alleged collusion in the 2002 riots. The US had revoked Modi's visa over the riots in 2005.
Full text of Arun Jaitley's blog:
Yesterday's verdict in the 2002 Riots case accepting the report of the SIT and dismissing the protest petition has an extremely important lesson for all. What is the extent to which false propaganda can subvert a debate when the facts are otherwise. A section of the media and some NGOs thrived on implicating Narendra Modi and making inaccurate accusations. The extent to which it led to subversion of the debate on this issue needs to be introspected. A Chief Justice of India without looking into all facts chose an inappropriate expression 'Nero'. Will he now retract? An editor used the extreme expression 'mass murderer'.
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Outside the country some nations otherwise friendly to India, held their own 'kangaroo court' and decided to proclaim Modi guilty. They chose to ignore the fact that no other Indian politician since Independence had gone through the kind of scrutiny that Modi went through in the 2002 riots case. The highest court of the land monitored the case against him. They chose the best officers who could investigate the case against him. The investigation team examined hundreds of witnesses. The SIT grilled the Chief Minister for over nine hours. When the SIT exonerated him still through a Supreme Court scrutiny, an Amicus Curiae opinion, a protest petition and eventually a judicial mind examined the case. After a due process of law, the court opined that there was not a shred of evidence against Modi.
Where does that leave the United States opinion on this issue ? Modi has not applied for US visa since 2005. My personal advice also has been that he should not apply for a US visa. The American stance on the issue has clearly been one determined by their 'kangaroo court'. To proclaim Modi guilty even when there was no evidence against him despite investigations and re-investigation amounts to immature diplomacy. It constitutes interference in India's internal affairs. This myopic American stance has the potential of recoiling back at them. It also sets a precedent for a reciprocal response. It is time the Americans reflect on how they have boxed themselves into this untenable situation.
Writing in Delhi Durbar, Archis Mohan says the genesis of the current controversy involving an Indian diplomat dates back to a 2010 case, in which another consul at the Indian consulate in New York, Neena Malhotra, along with her husband, was directed by a New York court in 2012 to pay $1.5 million for “barbaric treatment” to their domestic help Shanti Gurung who had accused the couple of “slavery”. By then the Malhotras were back in New Delhi; the case was filed against them after their leaving NY.
In New Delhi, Malhotra occupied important postings. She was, until recently, joint secretary in the visa division. Here, in November, 2013, Malhotra refused a visa to the spouse of a gay US diplomat when she discovered that the couple were homosexual. She said Indian law didn’t recognise gay marriages.
Sources say this hurt the Americans as the Indian diplomat threw the rule book at them. Given South Block’s relations with the US, the US Embassy ensured that Malhotra was transferred out soon enough and the gay couple granted visa. There was a feeling that Malhotra may have been unfairly insistent that the American diplomat follow the rule book, when the spouse could have been granted a visa as a family member if not as spouse.
A source said Malhotra may have only been doing to the Americans what they did to her over the maid issue.
However, Malhotra was shifted to managing archives and records, clearly a punishment posting.
But the Americans were not satisfied. In New Delhi, IFS officers were upset that one phone call from Roosevelt House ensured the diplomat was moved out, in what was clearly a very public message to the entire diplomatic corps that the Americans should not be treated lightly. This, when the diplomat was only following laid down rules...
...Sources said the Americans have become used red carpet treatment in the last decade, particularly during the Manmohan Singh years. Malhotra’s refusal to grant visa was an insult for which the Americans wanted to pay back the Indians. This is where they extracted revenge on Khobragade
He then goes on to recount the various happenings and behind-the-scenes goings on in the latest controversy. If nothing else, the theory above at least explains why the BJP leader Yashwant Sinha made the suggestion about treating the gay partnetrs of US diplomats in a certain way.
Read the full blog at Delhi Durbar: Khobragade arrest due to escalation gone awry:
In a separate post, Archis Mohan explains why South Block is seething with anger at the arrest of Devyani Khobragade: ‘The Americans Have Slapped Us Hard in the Face’
Indian diplomats perceive this arrest as a betrayal and are calling it “a slap across their face” and that the Americans “made a monkey out of them”. The trust built between India and the U.S. over the past decade has unravelled in the span of a week, claims the Indian diplomatic community.
The question whether Khobragade indulged in illegality has ceased to be the issue. It has now become more about the Americans not repaying the trust the current dispensation in New Delhi had reposed in them. South Block is also utterly convinced that the U.S. State Department was well aware of the arrest when it took place
Also, a series of tweets by Siddharth Varadarajan which puts the controversy in perspective:
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