Ray Williams writes to PM over offensive Lord Ganesh Ad.

The IST NEWS DESK

Community leaders in Australia, the Indian High Commission in Canberra protested Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) Ad depicting Lord Ganesh enjoying a lamb meal with other Gods. They have asked the MLA to withdraw this Ad and apologise to the Hindus. So far, this has not been done.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism, Hon Ray Williams,has written to Meat and Livestock Australia(MLA) and Prime Minister of Australia, The Hon Malcolm Turnbull regarding the feelings of the community over the MLA video Ad depicting Lord Ganesh enjoying meat and drinks.

As is known, our community is very concerned and unhappy with the video.

Community representatives led by Dr. Yadu Singh met Minister for Multiculturalism Mr. Ray Williams and Chair of Multicultural NSW Dr. Hary Harinath on Sept 11 last to lodge their protest against the offensive Advertisement by Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA).

“I was pleased to be able to organize a meeting of the Indian community Representatives with The Minister for Multiculturalism, The Hon Ray Williams & Chair of Multicultural NSW, Dr Harry Harinath, today in the Multicultural NSW Offices in Parramatta, Sydney to discuss the Meat and Livestock Australia’s (MLA) offensive video involving Lord Ganesh. The Chief Executive Officer of Multicultural NSW, Mr Hakan Harman, was also present,” said Dr Singh in a media release.

Community reps included people from not only Hinduism faith but also from Sikhism and Islamic faith. Seventeen community leaders took part in this meeting, and they included Mr Jagtar Singh, Ms Pallavi Sinha, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Ms Anju Kalra, Mr Surinder Bhogal, Mr Shamim Khan, Mr Brijrajsinh Jhala, Mr Premjitsinh Rathod, Mr Sri Ranga Reddy, Pandit Athreya Ramachandran, Pandit Krishnamurthi Venkataraman, Mr Chirag Parikh, Dr Manish Bhutada, Mr Anagan Babu, Mr Tara Chand Sharma, Dr Nihal Agar and myself (Dr Yadu Singh).

Every rep expressed their unhappiness with the video. Lord Ganesh is one of the most revered deity of Hinduism and is invoked before every religious activity among Hindus. The video is an advertisement for Lamb. Alcohol is also shown to be served in the video. To people from Hinduism faith, associating Lord Ganesh with meat and Alcohol is inappropriate, incorrect, offensive and hurtful.  They also felt that use of deities and religious figures of any religion for commercial use is wrong. It was also felt that the timing of the ad video was particularly hurtful as the video came out only a few days after Indians celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi all over the world.

Reps also felt that video like this don’t help the multiculturalism in Australia and end up creating disharmony and undermine cohesion in the community.  They generate a bad image of Australia, which, otherwise, is a successful example of multiculturalism. A rep also mentioned that Meat and Livestock Australia receives funding from the Government sources, which meant that our taxes are being used to abuse our beliefs and portray our deities inappropriately. This is unacceptable.

Community reps urged the Minister and Multicultural NSW to take the matter of the offensive Video up with relevant authorities, including relevant ministers in the Federal Government, and get the video taken out of circulation. The minister was also urged to get the standards of advertisement reviewed to ensure that public videos are not allowed to use religiously insensitive and offensive  materials.

The minister agreed that the community is offended and agitated. He agreed to write a letter to the Meat and Livestock Australia (MLA) and to the Federal Government authorities, seeking remedial action.

Community Reps with Minister Ray Williams

In a remarkable interfaith gesture, Christian-Hindu-Buddhist-Jewish leaders have urged MLA to withdraw its “You Never Lamb Alone” video ad launched on September four, which they say trivializes various religious figures.

The High Commission of India in Australia (Canberra) “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”, according to its release.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, welcoming the High Commission of India initiative of formal diplomatic representation of the official position regarding this insensitive ad, urged the Australian authorities to impose fine on Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA) for hurting the sentiments of Hindus and other religious communities; besides asking MLA to immediately withdraw “You Never Lamb Alone” video ad.

 

Moreover MLA Board Chair Dr. Michele Allan and Managing Director Richard Norton should resign for apparently working against the interests of the organization by upsetting consumers instead of charming them. With strong condemnation of this insensitive ad world over, MLA appeared to be harming it “core focus” of delivering “value to its 50,000 levy paying members by growing demand for red meat…,” Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, indicated in a statement in Nevada (USA) today.

Urging Australia Advertising Standards Bureau to act urgently against this ad, Rajan Zed pointed out that it seemed to make fun of Lord Ganesha, who was highly revered in Hinduism and was meant to be worshiped in temples or home shrines and not to be used in selling lamb meat for mercantile greed. Moreover, linking Lord Ganesha with meat was very disrespectful and highly inappropriate, Zed added.

Besides Zed; Senior Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher and well-known Jewish Rabbi in Nevada-California ElizaBeth Webb Beyer; also denounced lamb marketing using religious figures, which they said trivialized various religious figures; and urging withdrawal of the video ad. Unnecessarily dragging religious figures, who were highly revered by the adherents of their respective faiths, to sell Australian lamb meat was very disrespectful, highly inappropriate and could be disturbing for some faithful, they added in a joint statement in Nevada.

Rajan Zed stated that it was highly irresponsible of MLA to continue with this ad despite the clear expression by Hindus that it was very inappropriate and hurt their feelings. “Acts responsibly” was among The Code of Business Conduct and Ethics of MLA, and it seemed to clearly violate it with this ad. If this apparent MLA stubbornness continued despite universal condemnation, Hindus might think of launching worldwide boycott of Australian lamb meat.

India High Commission release further 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 consider to be 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.”

This “new integrated campaign continues with the theme that Lamb is the dish that brings everyone together, with the creative content for online, social and TV showing the Gods, Goddesses and Prophets of different faiths and beliefs coming together over Lamb at a modern day spring barbecue”, an MLA release about the video ad states.

MLA, with about 50,000 livestock producer members and headquartered in North Sydney, “delivers research, development and marketing services to Australia’s cattle, sheep and goat producers”.

This “new integrated campaign continues with the theme that Lamb is the dish that brings everyone together, with the creative content for online, social and TV showing the Gods, Goddesses and Prophets of different faiths and beliefs coming together over Lamb at a modern day spring barbecue”, an MLA release about the video ad states.

Senior Greek Orthodox Christian Priest Stephen R. Karcher, Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, Buddhist Priest Matthew T. Fisher and well-known Jewish Rabbi in Nevada-California ElizaBeth Webb Beyer; in a joint statement in Nevada (USA); said that unnecessarily dragging religious figures, who were highly revered by the adherents of their respective faiths, to sell Australian lamb meat was very disrespectful, highly inappropriate and could be disturbing for some faithful.

Contradicting the MLA claim that lamb brings everyone together and unites us, Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer stated: Love, and not lamb meat, united us and brought us together. Moreover, icons of any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, taken frivolously and inappropriately used; they noted.

We, the faith leaders, were for free artistic expression and speech as much as anybody else if not more. But faith was something sacred and attempts at trivializing it hurt the followers, Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer added.

Karcher-Zed-Fisher-Beyer also urged Australia Advertising Standards Bureau to act urgently on the various complaints reportedly received by it regarding this ad.

NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley has today challenged the leaders of Meat and Livestock Australia to visit Australia’s oldest Hindu temple, Sri Mandir in his electorate of Auburn, to engage respectfully with the Hindu community and come to understand their perspectives.

 

Mr Foley has given a Private Members’ statement in State Parliament urging an offensive TV advertisement depicting Lord Ganesha ‘celebrating’ meat, be withdrawn.

The ad, by Meat and Livestock Australia, disrespects one of the most worshiped gods in the Hindu religion.

Many Hindus in my electorate of Auburn as well as those I met over the weekend at polling booths, while shopping at Flemington and at a multicultural dinner in Parramatta have spoken of their hurt.

That outrage is shared overseas- India’s government has lodged an official diplomatic complaint.

I support the Consulate General in Sydney in asking MLA to do the right thing and withdraw the crude and hurtful ad.

 

 

Share this :

Ashok Kumar

Ashok Kumar is an accomplished journalist with over 38 years of experience in the profession in various capacities. He was a sub-editor in Patriot and later Chief Sub-editor in The Hindustan Times, New Delhi. He has several published articles and reports in Patriot and HT. Published reports in The Blacktown Sun in Sydney. He had also been a tutor in journalism in the University of Western Sydney. He is currently Editor at The
Indian Sub-continent Times, Sydney.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *