On April 17, The New Delhi edition of The Hindu had a full-page print advertisement of Kalyan Jewellers, with brand ambassador Aishwarya Rai Bachchan in it.
However, this ad hasn’t gone down well with people for obvious reasons- the image of a dark coloured child holding up an umbrella for a fair, beautiful and regal looking woman promotes and glorifies child labour and slavery.
An article was published by Scroll after this incident was brought to light, in which they mentioned that the ad was similar to 17th and 18th century portraits depicting white aristocracy during the colonial period, with black people (child slaves, to be precise) waiting on them like servants.
“We are fully aware that yours is an advertisement selling jewellery through creating a fantasy/desire, and not a portrayal of reality. Yet, advertisements and visuals are a critical part of our socio-cultural-psychological ecosystem and these ecosystems can either help create conditions in our mind that will foster positive social change or work against it,” the article read.
The article also brought to light a photoshoot done in 2013 by Pakistani designer Aamna Aqeel called ‘Be My Slave’, depicting a white model dressed to perfection while being served to by a black boy, and how it was highly critiqued by people who called it tasteless and racist.
“Today, many national and international movements are struggling to change at least the public culture that normalises child labour, a struggle that the Nobel committee has also recognised. We, therefore, hope you agree that this sort of advertisement – a romaticisation of child servitude to feed into elite fantasies – is extremely objectionable and avoidable.”
Scroll concluded their article by asking everyone associated with the brand to take an action as soon as possible.
News source: Scroll
Update: Kalyan Jewellers posted a status update on their Facebook page yesterday, saying that they’re in the process of withdrawing the advertisements from their campaign. Furthermore, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s publicist has released a statement saying that the actress had no say in the creative making of the print ad.
Here is the picture that was actually taken, with the child added on later to it: