Happy Republic Day

…to all of you. The Brat came back from school with a little flag … our National Flag. After I unpinned it I fussed over what to do with it, that wouldn’t be disrespectful. I wondered what he’d understood  of Republic Day in school. Independence is somehow easier for a child to understand than the transition of a country to being a republic, the adoption of a constitution.

On the other hand, its sad to see that the US brand Haagen Dazs recently opened shop in Delhi, and put up a sign that said no Indians were allowed. Yes, I waited for them to explain themselves. For the controversy to blow over. And they did try. Very unsatisfactorily.

Apparently they turned the Indian away because of the weekend rush. Really? So they first insult the Indian guy, then they insult the average Indian’s intelligence. Its a fricking ice cream parlour, not an aircraft. How hard is it to request a customer to wait a few minutes if you are busy?

I passed the controversial store the other day and was very pleased to see it empty. I hope it continues to stay empty and they’re forced to shut down and haul their racist arses back to the US. Sorry to sound so vindictive, but I’d have thought someone would do something about it, but since that isn’t happening, its up to all of us to boycott the sorry sods and let them take the hint.

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79 thoughts on “Happy Republic Day

  1. Totally with you on wishing them a forced shut down because of a mass boycott by ‘Indians'(??!) in Delhi.

    Was so utterly shocked to read about this sometime ago..and actually thought this shop would have been shut by now.

  2. its so weird. a new restaurant has opened here in islamabad which says no pakistanis allowed. i mean i realize you want to cater to the diplomatic community but HOWWWW is it ok to open a restaurant in a country and not allow their own people in? its asking for trouble in volatile times like these where tolerance needs to be the order of the day not profiling.

    i seriously think people are slowly going nutty.

    • Nuts. Just nuts.

      This is why I refused to support the right of any public place in India to actually ban the sari. You can discourage it, no doubt but to come out and ban it sounds just as crazy.

  3. I agree on the Haagen Dazs thing…but apparently this was the master mind of some Indian chap and not so much HD’s doing. Potato Potahto…I don’t mind if this teaches everyone a lesson and they do so badly they have to go back! BOO-YA

  4. I am more than sure that nothing further would happen for this Haagen Dazs controversy. That is the kind of Govt. we have in the centre.

    They can put a Pak Chief photo in a Govt. advt and could say that it was just a lapse and that they regret…I nevewr knew that PMO officials are stupid dumb a**es who does not know the difference between Indian and Pak army insignia etc… this mistake happens 2 days before our 60th Republic Day.

    Shame!

      • Must have been a last minute cut paste job.

        Re the ice cream business I am going to get blasted for this but.. some of the comments here remind me of Bunty and Babli. When the minister (Phool Sakhi ji)goes home she is met by protestors. She asks them what are they protesting about. They say angrez bharat chodo. She says they have already left. The protestors then say hamari mange puri karo. She asks what are the mange. They say inqualab zindabad. Finally they say that they are protesting at the wrong ministers house and leave.

  5. Unbelievable. Who would want to eat the ice-cream if this is how they go about marketing it? Not only is this racist, it is elitist too, if their explanation of the “gaffe” is to be accepted.
    They are anyway overpriced by Indian standards. Who knows, this might also be a ploy for the same purpose. I mean, how much more expensive can the ingredients be?

  6. What the hell????? How can they be allowed to run a shop with this sort of heinous racist signs hanging out? I hope the fold and leave as soon as its humanly possible. I love this brand of ice-cream but will never, ever have it again. Jerks! It’s sad really, there are still a couple of places in India that have a no Indians policy, some old time clubs and allied things. I wonder how they exist to this day!

    Happy Republic day MM, I am celebrating by going all Indian chic and heading to a brunch with friends.

  7. well you could explain just like there are house rules at Casa Mad House regarding what he and his partner in crime the Bean can do or not do, and what you and OA “owe” to them and that these “rules and rights” may be unwritten (just like the British constitution!!) but India has all these house rules written up, and one celebrates the day they were formally introduced to children big and small!!

  8. well said! i hope their rotten store will be doomed to hell! this is for a stupid brand which is easily visible on the shelves of every avg grocery store outside india! and the truth it doesnt even taste half superior as their bloody attitude!am not going to touch their nasty product ever again – in india or abroad.

  9. That’s just terrible! I was taken aback when I read this post- I hadn’t heard of it till now. It requires a massive amount of stupidity and sheer cheek to put up something like that on Indian soil.

    These things make me wonder how much more racist the West can get and I also wonder what the Indians who were part of the campaign were thinking!

  10. WTF? How could they get a licence to run such a place? I know that the Indian Govt is full of jacka@@ politicians who’d do anything for money, but this is too much. But I really hope like you do, that they shut shop and move their racist a@@es off to US.

    • Why are the poor politicians and bureaucrats to be blamed for this? Maybe we could have a question on the license form.

      Q10 Will you be racist or not?
      a. Yes
      b. No
      c. cannot say
      d. depends

  11. Can we all please stop being absurd. Why would a company spend millions of dollars, make a business plan, hire a team in India, hunt for retail space, set up shop and keep Indians out.

    I dont know much about Haagen Dazs but I just googled it. It operates in 55 countries around the world from Brazil to Japan and China. Am sure it hasn’t got this big by going into the country and catering purely to the 0.1% expat population and alienating everyone else.

    Surely, there are intelligent people on the other side who want to run a successful business. Somehow asking Indians to stay away doesnt seem to be consistent with that.

    That brings us to the question, does what HD is saying make sense. That the words “holders of international passports” was a stupid choice of words and nothing more than that. WTF is international passport anyway??

    I would agree with your view MM that turning away the Indian was racist, if we had the data point that EVERYONE ELSE in the store at that point was a foreigner (or an international passport holder if you please). But without that data point, by sheer probability, I would imagine that there must have been at least 1 Indian in the store at the time. And by extension, given that we probably outnumber foreigners in our own country, the probability of the n+1 customer where n is the capacity of the store being Indian is very high.

    One can of course argue that HD is lying and the store wasn’t actually full and yet they turned away the guy. But then unless one was there to verify the fact, thats not really an argument is it.

    So on balance.. we have one company which has spent a lot of money to (logically) cater to the Indian market saying it was a communication error. And on the other hand we have a guy pissed off that he was asked to come back later because of the rush, exploiting their stupid poster to create an issue where there really isnt any…. hmm tough one, but i think I will back the company on this one.

    We can jump up and down saying racism for almost anything, but it may make sense once in a while to just stop to think for a minute if what we are saying makes any sense at all.

    • So then Dushyant, do explain what they meant by those words anyway! Go on, I see you think it was a wrong choice of words. Tell me what the right words should have been. Are they trying to say the store is only open to those who have travelled abroad? In which case I’d still not patronise them. Anyone who can afford the ice cream should be welcome, right? I’d like to hear what you have to say, without anyone jumping up and down

      • Dear MM,

        Wish I was as talented as you in creative writing, I would have made a profession of it and charged HD for my services thereof. But since that is not the case, I am not going to start off a slogan contest here.

        I think the key message is basically that the internationally popular brand of ice cream is now in India. Any words to that effect would have been sufficient.

        And no I do not think they are trying to say that only people who have travelled abroad should go to the shop as that too would fail the logic test which I have placed above in my comment (basically tough as it may sound, assume that the other person also has some brains).

        If anything they are discriminating against the poorer sections of society, given how frigging expensive it is. We can blame them for that but I am assuming that is the prerogative of every business enterprise in what is fundamentally a capitalist economy.

        So what I have to say is that dont make a bigger issue of this than it is. There is no racism involved. Just bad advertising leading to bad PR. Period.

        As for not jumping up and down, that unfortunately is a case of closing the stable doors after the horse has bolted. A cursory read of your post and the comments thereafter, including trivialising Gandhiji’s “Quit India” movement, one of the most important events in our country’s recent history, is sufficient to figure out that its too late to say “without anyone jumping up and down”.

        Dushyant

        • Dear Dushyant,
          Thank you for the backhanded compliment 🙂 I think you’re already as creative as you wish to be – rather effortlessly. If you’re trying to make an argument for elitism, I think we’ve already declared our difference in stance. This isn’t a club. Its an icecream parlour. All one needs to do, is hand over their money, grab a cup or cone, and move on. If that is also more than they wish, and they plan to make a statement on class, then I think they’ve already lost a chunk of clientele. People like me or the others who refuse to be served by a place that says, “Keep the middle class out, even if they save for a year to buy our ice cream”.

          And why shouldnt we make an issue of it? Isnt this the entire problem with our ‘chalta hai’ attitude? On a blog, everything, is an issue or food for thought. You have to pick what you think are issues. I have to pick what I think are issues. You dont need to agree with me, neither can you determine what is important to me. Right? 🙂

          I do agree its a little late, but you’re the one that made the jumping point. Lets go back to Gandhiji, since you’re talking about his movement being trivialised. Its strange you should say that and in the same comment justify elitism. Didnt Gandhiji do the most work for the Harijans movement?

          Maybe you should think about that…. And if its bad advertising leading to bad PR – well then, here’s the consequence. every action had a consequence – no? (although really, PLEASE, I beg of you – do tell me how you justify what they wrote. really!)

          MM

          • I’d also love to hear how anyone can justify what they wrote…why is Dushyant so eager to stick up for bad advertising, and why is he shying away from the word ‘racist’???

            When an ‘international’ brand enters a country, they should be responsible and take the trouble to crosscheck their sign and ad content against the cultural context of the country.

            We dont need the ‘chalta hai’ attitude, we need the ‘chal-hat’ attitude for any company that can’t respect the citizens of the country they’re selling in. We have enough yummy icecream and lots of self-respect around here!

            And when we have movies talking about ‘Gandhigiri’ that were massive hits with the Indian junta, I see nothing wrong in using “Quit-India”, Gandhi was an Indian just like the rest of us, international passport or not. Nothing trivial about it!

    • I have one question here…IF we go by what was written on that hoarding however stupid it might have been, the arguments about lack or availability of data points is totally senseless as the hoarding clearly states if you fit certain criteria you are allowed to enter the ice cream parlor else not. And when a person goes out to eat ice creams one does not go through an entire logical/probabilistic debate to decide on the place he is going to.

  12. I read about this at Kiran Manral’s the other day – heck, what was more shocking is that it is franchised by an Indian – a$$**** (Pardon the usage)

  13. ok pl tell what u finally did with the flag
    i have a dozen of them lying on the table and i dont want to throw/crumple/tear and discard but i dont know what to do with them ether 😐

  14. two points:
    a) The team who put that up was Indian, including creative execution. Stop blaming US firms
    b) Indians are WAY more racist than any american can be. Was at Mahabalipuram recenly – Ticket prices are 500Rs for the cave temple for “foreigners”- defined, obviously, by SKIN color- the guy checking the ticket “judges” if everyone in your party is indian or not at the gate. I mean how much more racist can we be?

    • Wanted to just add- just as you wouldnt blame the entire country for an arcane tourist policy, its easy to just say “foreign firms get out” for the mistake of a few idiotic marketers (indian ones). I am surprised that people think a foreigner would even dare put up a sign like that, in someone else’s country! Isnt it obviuos that only an Indian would be foolish enough to do so? Should we then kick the creative exec out of the country?

      • did i say foreign firms get out? I simply said its shameful that they put up a sign like that and blame it on bad wording. As for who made the sign, thats not my problem. It is THEIR job (whoever owns the franchise) to check the lettering before the store opens and then bear the consequences of their ignorance/racism/elitism. Right?

    • Its not an advertisement – its the sign above their showroom!!! And you think the creatives decided who should be served? I dont care if its US based or Indian execution – I am not eating at an ice cream parlour that lays down any such rules – be they racist or elitist.

      Yes of course, and I’ve often blogged about that too. Obviously you are a newcomer on this blog or else you’d not make that statement.

      BUT – that in no way exonerates this sign does it? Then why dont we just sit back and say hey, its okay that Indians are being killed in Oz, because you know, we’re racist and we charge foreigners extra. Or, hey, so lets rape some foreigners in Goa, because others are racist too.

      I’ve never understood why people bring up other examples when you’re talking about something, to say – Hey! HE does it too. Err… so? How does that make it any better?

      • I would like to add a point to all those who say that The Advt. was put up by the Franchisee.. I do agree that the man who puts it up is an Indian as dumb as the ones in PMO – But we all work in MNC’s and corporates and we know how it happens. The Franchisee owner is just in charge of the Management. Any poster or dangler or sticker comes from the company. Be it from US or from anywhere else. Its the company and not the Franchisee.

        That man didn’t have the knowledge to know it meaning or didn’t have the voice to protest.

    • ad: I need to tell you that in Taj Mahal the charge for an Indian is Rs.10 and for a Foreigner its Rs.750/- and recently i read that the Tourism board has planned to levy fine on people staying more than 2-4 hrs. The guides stay from Morning to Eve with just on ticket. Now that wont be possible.

      The excess money which we collect goes to government body – Tourism board. That is Income and not Racism.

  15. It will be a sad day if a blog associated (i.e., original source of this ‘controversy’) with TOI is more balanced and logical than this one 😦

    • alright amit – what do you find unbalanced? I thought it was RUDE. Its a matter of opinion. that doesnt make it unbalanced. if you object to what other commenters say, well that doesnt make an entire blog unbalanced, it just means you disagree with an opinion voiced in a post. thats all.

      • Maybe you are correct. I disagree more with the comments on the post. The entire blog is not unbalanced, just one article in it as compared to several very humane and thought provoking ones.

        As Dushyant says ‘this is blowing things out of proportion and looking for implications where there doesn’t appear to be a logic for any’.

        The guys who write the original copy were stupid. The guys who could not make a clear apology were even more stupid. We should not try to compete with them.

        Truce?

  16. Sorry if this spoils your chain of responses.. not able to reply at the right place for some reason.

    Anyway:

    1. I am not making a case for elitism. I am saying that in a capitalist economy, people can price things the way they want. If you have a demand for it at that price point, go ahead and buy it, if you dont… dont.

    2. HD is also not making a statement on class. They are asking you to do just what you are saying “pay for the cup and take it”. The price they ask for is their prerogative. Its not elitist. Its what they think their product is worth. If they ask anyone to get out because they are not elite and can yet afford to pay for the ice cream, then I can understand your accusation of elitism. But since we have no data that they have done that, I think the argument of elitism is unfair.

    3. Of course I dont mean to intrude on your choice of issues. Its your blog and you should be free to choose whatever is important to you. If you felt, I was intruding on that in any way, I apologise. However, my point remains around finding the logic of extending what appears obvious to me as an poorly worded ad line to the levels of racism etc. I am unable to find the logic… but that could just be me.

    4. I am making the jumping point because of the vitriol I see in the comments against HD which in my opinion is unwarranted. I have nowhere justified elitism.. nor do I believe there is any evidence of HD being elitist. If pricing a product highly is considered elitist, then all luxury products are elitist. If thats the consensus view, then I have nothing more to add to that. I refuse to get dragged into an argument on capitalism vs. socialism

    5. Nowhere have they said “Keep the middle class out, even if they save for a year to buy our ice cream”. They would be happy to take your savings of the past one year, if you feel this is the best place you should spend it.

    6. I agree with you that Gandhiji did lots of work for Harijans. However, that was against discrimination. In my view there is no evidence of discrimination here. There is no evidence of racism. No evidence of asking people below a social class to not come to the parlour if they can afford it etc… so how is Gandhi’s work on Harijans relevant here.

    7. Of course every action has a consequence. The copywriter should have taken the stick for this. But also, I would imagine things demand a response commensurate with the “crime”. My view is that this is blowing things out of proportion and looking for implications where there doesnt appear to be a logic for any.

    7. Where did you get the impression that I am justifying what they have written? I thought I was abundantly clear when I said “That the words “holders of international passports” was a stupid choice of words and nothing more than that.”

    D

    • 1. so this wasnt a point at all. its a given.
      2. i called it elitism because of the ‘international’ passport line. what is that about? that a person who doesnt have a passport, cant eat, even if they can afford? its totally fair to call that elitist.
      3. i agree – maybe they worded it ‘poorly’. in which case, i wonder what they were trying to say. after much fumbling, they’re still unable to come up with an acceptable answer.
      4. i have NEVER said that the pricing is elitist. just that their sign is elitist. i merely said, that you can charge anything you want and as long as i pay and dont make a nuisance of myself at your store, you shouldnt object. as for the vitriol – its merely regular citizens outraged at the ‘poor’ wording. HD as well as other advertisers might disagree – but hey – heres a lesson for them!
      5. so what exactly is the point behind that sign, i want to know. if it is not that those who dont have international passports (whatever those might be) are not welcome. its not exactly opening a bank account, that people need to produce ID for an icecream.
      6. the entire wording IS about saying that only a certain section of people are welcome. you can keeping defending it as poor wording – but you’ve still not explained your point – poor wording while trying to say what? you might say i misunderstood them – but what was the point they were trying to make then? you thought we were trivialising Gandhiji’s work. but hey – he objected to being thrown out of a train full of white men and now some white men come into OUR country and tell us we need to show passports to buy a freaking icecream cone? why???
      7. well thats merely a matter of opinion, right? I believe anyone who is foolish enough to tell customers that they’re to come in with certain requirements, needs to bear the consequences.
      8. well your entire argument is against my post – and in support of their right to serve anyone and write anything. look at your first comment. you havent actually made yourself clear so i’m going to repeat my question – a stupid choice of words when they meant what??

      i’m really hoping for clarity here… so peace!
      MM

  17. As an advertising person who has just gone through some of the comments above I’d like to add, an agency (Indian or otherwise) may come up with a crappy idea but they don’t execute it without a go-ahead from the client (who in this case, at the highest level at least, is definitely not an Indian national). Who in this case still hasn’t rendered a satisfactory apology.

    I don’t know if all Americans are racist, I know for sure all Indians aren’t and none of that is relevant to this shockingly bad campaign concept.

  18. Stupid VHP/all those other fundamentalist groups. They can take to the street to protest Valentines day and harass innocent couples, but they can’t protest this. Idiots.

    • If their harrasment of people is wrong on valentines day then why would you want the same bunch of people to make an ass of themselves on this ‘important’ issue?

        • I would actually say that no one deserves to be harassed. If laws are broken then the law must take its course. Peaceful protest is within the ambit of the law. The sort of antics which the anti V day crowd resort to are not.

          Why would any law abiding citizen want to suggest breaking the law?

    • I absolutely agree with you. Fundamentalist groups have a lot of time and people to go after the wrong issue. And for all the Dushyant Sen’s out there, it has not been that long since the “No Dogs and Indians allowed” signs came down. If we continue to stand by and let a multibillion dollor corporation get away with hurting a country’s sentiments by saying “Yeah, its just a poor choice of words, no biggie”, it won’t be long before that sign goes back on. And no, it is not just the copyrighter’s fault. If you are investing millions of dollars to enter a country, you better do your research about its history and what is acceptable in that country or not (I hear it is good for the company)and yes, the Company is accountable for it, you can’t put up a public sign and then chicken out of it by saying “our words were misinterpreted”. English is not that difficult a language, I’m sure if they wanted to say something else, they would have. Or you are going to be booted out (Or maybe not, as long we have people who wave away anything that a MNC does and who have a fixation that anything foreign is of better quality). Personally I’ll never get a HD icecream again (and yes, I’ll drink milk and sugar and what not – there is a place for humor and then there is a place for humor, And yes, I mean you Amit. I don’t know you from a hole in a wall, and I’m sure you have a great sense of humor, but if you don’t have anything meaningful to contribute, please don’t make fun of other people sentiments or their opinions)and honestly it won’t be a terrible sacrifice.

  19. I guess what we need to do, is feel sorry for HD, that their creative writer or whoever it is that spewed that sentence in question, screwed up bigtime. Or let’s go one step further and wonder if this ‘creative’ person had some personal agenda..
    D might object that we are violating this ‘creative’ person’s creative freedom.
    Poor HD. Poor misunderstood HD.

    Lets just leave the shop alone. And it will walk(or use its INTERNATIONAL passport todo so) to the fate we hoped it would. Just a matter of time.

  20. Because the post is titled Republic day, have you seen the new (completely bollywoodized, extremely gimmicky) ‘mile sur mera tumhara’ which has been airing on zoom from yesterday? i was appalled to see what they had done to such a childhood favourite.

      • I don’t watch TV either… but it’s all over youtube and it’s hard to miss MM! But, be happy you didn’t watch it… because IT SUCKS! What in the name of Christ were they even thinking? Either they should have come up with something new and left the good old ‘mile sur’ alone, or they should have just started airing the old one again…

        But one good thing came out of it all, I saw on youtube how more than a thousand people were disgusted with Bollywood being shoved down their throats at ever instance… it was really refreshing to see Indian people unanimously send out a clear cut message that they have a life beyond Bollywood… way beyond it! THAT really made me feel proud and patriotic… not the stupid song! (Oh also, how everyone was trashing the oh-so-overrated Deepika Padukone, really made me feel like I fit in, for once! 😛 )

  21. Hi

    OK. i’m going to take the unpopular stand here. i think Dushyant was right in his analysis and his ‘stats’ questions. nothing about the racism part is really proven.

    about the “unfortunate choice of words” – i think the guy who did the poor/shoddy copy and everyone up the line who passed it were sleeping on their job big time OR they all ‘got’ what the guy was trying to say. i too was shocked when i first saw a pic of what was written on the sign. (i first saw it on this post and then checked up some more on the net.) But, i think, what the guy probably meant to say was that – people who have travelled abroad and consider HD one of the treats (?) to look forward to when they travel need look no further as the brand has now come here. It really cannot have meant what it seems to mean. wouldn’t they be cutting their own noses off AND spiting their own faces to take a ridiculously racist and elitist stand like that? it was an terrible error – of choice of words and judgement – on display. and no spin doctor to explain it all away.

    while i appreciate how worked up it has got us – dont we all have real issues to vent our spleen over? Bt. Brinjal for one?(shameless plug for one of my present pet peeves here :))

  22. About the ‘mile sur mera tumhara’ video – while i love the old one a lot more than the new one – why should we resist change. Yes – the tunes have been chnged, there are a lot of filmy people on it and yes, it is very ‘bollywood’. But it is also ‘young’ and ‘contemporary’. The old one had a lot of film stars in it too. It reflected India and us as we were then. This is a reflection of today. i may be an old fogey and prefer the older version – but then, i also prefer a lot of what came on DD when i was younger. doesn’t make cable TV bad.

    Wait another 10-20yrs and a newer version will be out which the teenagers of today will probably think is a travesty too 😀

    and yes MM – it is on youtube. Here are the links (in 2 parts) for your benefit (terrible video quality though).


  23. The general belief here seems to brand HD and/or the franchisee to be elitist, racist etc or that it was a mere wrong choice of word and an advertising blunder. But here is a different perspective to it…

    This may actually be a well-calculated and deliberate attempt on part of HD/Franchisee to stir up a controversy to create brand awareness. Good or bad, it is publicity… like how the Bollywood co-actors get linked up just before a movie is released or how a Hollywood producer/director agreed to fund research on dinosaurs on the condition that the research results could be publicized just before a movie release to stir up public curiosity about dinosaurs…

    Sure it will leave bad taste on some of us… but if most of the population (with the typical Indian “chalta hai” attitude) does not care, it is sheer publicity and a win for the parlor (at a nominal cost)

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