Indian reaction to MNC Kashmir tweets
- On February 5, a handle by the name Hyundai Pakistan Official sent out a tweet which called for “remembering the sacrifices” of people in Kashmir and asked for people to stand in support as these people continued to “struggle for freedom” which was later posted on Facebook.
- Both the tweet and the Facebook post were deleted shortly, but not before being picked by social media users who called out the company’s posts marking solidarity with Kashmir.
- MEA and the Commerce Ministry ensured that several multinational companies retracted social media posts their Pakistani distributors had put out last week.
- Appeared to be part of a coordinated exercise sponsored by the Pakistani establishment, were put out on February 5.
- Marked in Pakistan as “Kashmir Solidarity Day” .
- Contained what New Delhi termed as highly offensive messages calling for “Kashmiri liberation”.
- The Government’s outrage was valid, given that these companies, including Hyundai, Toyota, KFC, Pizza Hut, and pharma major Schwabe, also have flourishing businesses in India, and it was strange that private MNCs would post such politically charged messaging at all.
- Even summoned the Korean Ambassador while ensuring that Indian embassies took up the issue with other governments.
- Commerce Minister added in Parliament that the original apology by Hyundai India was not adequately “forceful or unequivocal”.
- In response, the social media consumers in India threatened to boycott products made by the companies concerned.
Clubbing Economy with Geopolitics - Implications
- The Government must consider its actions, that appear to be at some variance with those of a secure and powerful global player, are viewed in the rest of the world.
- India’s claims over Jammu and Kashmir are strong, and widely acknowledged.
- India’s stand is not so fragile that a few social media posts, that appeared only in Pakistan, can dent in any way.
- Holding foreign governments in democratic countries to account for the actions of the local distributors of their private companies could have unforeseen repercussions.
- Resources are better spent in furthering India’s interests than on expending diplomatic capital on short-lived controversies .
- Eg. MEA’s objection to pop star Rihanna’s posts on the farmer protests last year.
- The apologies and statements thus extracted may prove to be a pyrrhic victory, if one considers that the intentions of those behind the obnoxious posts in Pakistan, aimed at drawing attention to their propaganda on Kashmir, were also met.
- A quiet word with the MNCs might have worked better than a public display of diplomatic opposition.