India Lodges Diplomatic Protest With Australia Over ‘Offensive’ Ad

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New Delhi: India lodged a strong protest with the Australian authorities after massive furore unfolded over an advertisement depicting Lord Ganesha enjoying lamb. The advert had generated a huge controversy among the Indian community living in Australia who had started petitions and approached authorities and the Indian mission to get the advertisement removed.

Calling the advert ‘offensive’, the Indian mission in Canberra issued a strong demarche to concerned departments in Australia. In a statement the High Commission said, “The High Commission of India, Canberra, taking note of the protests of Indian community in Australia, have made a demarche to the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Department of Communication and Arts and Department of Agriculture bringing to their notice an offensive advertisement by Meat and Livestock Australia that hurt the religious sentiments of the Indian community”.

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The ad, titled “You Never Lamb Alone” was launched by a meat industry lobby group, Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) on September 4 which features Gods of various religions sitting around a table and sharing a lamb meal. The Gods include Jesus, Buddha, Scientology founder L Ron Hubbard and the revered ‘vegetarian’ Hindu deity, Lord Ganesha.

The Indian High Commission in Canberra in its statement highlighted the fact that the video hurt sentiments of the Indian community. It said, “In a video advertisement released by Meat and Livestock Australia recently, Lord Ganesha along with other religious figures is found to be ‘toasting lamb’, which the Indian community considers offensive and hurting their religious sentiments”.

“The Consulate General of India in Sydney has taken up the matter directly with Meat and Livestock Australia and urged them to withdraw the advertisement”, the statement read.

While the intent of the ad was not to hurt religious sentiments and to speak of inclusivity, it has done just the opposite. Reports in Australian media have put out response of MLA where their spokesperson Andrew Howie said, “Our intent is never to offend, but rather acknowledge that lamb is a meat consumed by a wide variety of cultures and capture how the world could look if people left their differing views at the door and came to the table with open arms and minds”. He added, “No matter your beliefs, background or persuasion, the one thing we can all come together and unite over, is lamb”.

This however, has not gone down well with the diaspora and people following Hindu religion. The Indian High Commission statement said, “A number of Community Associations have also registered their protest with the Government of Australia and Meat and Livestock Australia”.