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Indian secularism cares more about losing a YouTube ad than the murder of 18-year-old Rahul Rajput

Like a teenage fan meeting Justin Bieber, feminists can’t even remember their names, let alone their ideologies, when they come across something Muslim.

It finally happened. She was the shy Hindu bride with lowered eyes, saree and heavy jewelry. Getting ready for a ritual that celebrates women in their most traditional role of all: becoming a mother. She was obedient to her mother in law. She was thankful for every little bit of kindness that her husband’s family can show. And feminists *loved* it.

How? Who sprinkled magical fairy dust over all the signs of patriarchy and made them super “woke”? All it took was for the family to be Muslim. Like a teenage fan meeting Justin Bieber, feminists can’t even remember their names, let alone their ideologies, when they come across something Muslim.

And then, the harsh realities of the modern world (and pressures of the market) came knocking. On social media, the big bad and mean Hindu right went on a rampage against Tanishq for putting out the ad. So Tanishq buckled and pulled the ad.

Now this ad is gone. It can never come back. All we have left are memories of this digital fantasy.

Eminent intellectuals like Shashi Tharoor have uploaded copies of this ad on their social media. Just so we never forget. But you know, Shashi … and you must know, these are not the originals. It will just never be the same again.

Those precious megabytes of data uploaded to Youtube, they are never coming back. Imagine the pain of the director who conceived the ad, the people who acted in it, the company that approved it.

But there is hope for India yet. From mainstream media to social media, everyone is talking about the loss of this ad. News channels, newspapers and digital media platforms seem committed to keeping the memory of this ad alive. I heard there might even be a candle light march at India Gate to remember this ad. To remember how this ad came into our lives yesterday morning, the hopes and dreams of every single one of those megabytes. And how cruelly those megabytes perished that evening with a click of the delete button…

You know what has not become a talking point? The murder of 18 year old Delhi University student Rahul Rajput. His “crime”? Having a Muslim girlfriend.

Rahul Rajput? Who?

Believe it or not, the “teen tutor” did have a name. It’s a pity he died after being beaten to death by “youths” over his relationship with a “girl.” Headlines in other media outlets have spoken variously of “Adarsh Nagar murder” and “North West Delhi murder.”

Anyway, I’m done talking about “teen tutor” and “Adarsh Nagar murder” and “North West Delhi murder.”

Let’s talk about the real tragedy from yesterday. The loss of megabytes of Youtube data. Unlike Rahul Rajput, those megabytes had hopes and dreams. They deserved to spread their wings across the internet and bring joy into millions of lives.

Now those megabytes have met with a cruel, senseless fate. The video might be sitting in the trash folder on someone’s computer. Can you ever look the director in the eye and tell them that their darling video is no more? Where is justice?

Those scripted smiles in the ad, the warm background voices, they have perished with those precious megabytes. Dear India, is your heart not broken?

We couldn’t save this ad, but let’s hope millions of ads like this one live a better life in a better nation. We remember you, megabytes.

When I was a child, my mother told me that when a loved one dies, they become a star in the night sky. Today I understand that isn’t true, but it is heart warming to think about, nevertheless. Maybe tonight, whether you are in RT Nagar in Bengaluru or Adarsh Nagar in Delhi, you can come out, stare at the night sky, pick out a star and remember those megabytes.

Dear megabytes, rest in peace.

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a math lover who may or may not be an Associate Professor at IISc Bangalore. He is the author of Operation Johar - A Love Story, a novel on the pain of left wing terror in Jharkhand, available on Amazon here.  

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