(Disclaimer- I am not an Iyer, I am not a Tamil Brahmin, or a Brahmin nor do I have a girlfriend who is an Iyer, or a Tam-Brahm or a Tamilian.)
Now after reading the above disclaimer if you are wondering whether I have gone bonkers, it’s because I am going to talk about an advertisement which targets a specific community- the Iyers of Tamilnadu, a sub sect of the Tamil Brahmins’. For those who haven’t seen the recent Hero Honda motorcycle advertisement featuring people who are labeled Iyers in the ad, please do watch it and form your own opinion. For those who have already seen it, let me share my opinion of it. That ad is just absolutely tasteless and wrong in so many different levels. The first thought which popped in my mind was about damning with praise. By showing that only Iyers can afford to buy motorcycles in Tamil Nadu, the ad indirectly reinforces the image of the Iyer community, as being the only community which is rich enough to buy motorcycles on a whim. I am sure there are rich Iyers who can do so. But I am also sure that there lots of poor Iyers who travel by buses. And I am also sure that there are other communities of hard working people in Tamil Nadu who can also afford to buy motorcycles if they want to. By subtly indicating that the Iyers are the only community which can afford motorcycles the Hero Honda ad has laid the way for Iyer bashing in the near future. Which is quite surprising to see as Iyers are considered pretty much a calm and non reactive community in the real world and they are mostly seen lurking around twitter outraging all the time on non-issues. To label and scaremonger a single community as being immensely strong and powerful reminds me of what I read in history about the hoax on Zionist manifestos (Google- The Elders of Zion) of Tsarist Russia.
Leaving all that aside for the moment and come back to what the ad agency which conceived this ad was thinking of. They are just propagating North Indian prejudices of South Indians. Ask any North Indian about what comes into his mind when someone mentions a south Indian and he would immediately say a dark, fat man, with a topknot and ash marks over his body and who talks in a funny Hindi accent and is named Iyer. That’s the extent of the caricaturing of South Indians in the north due to the influence of Bollywood where every time a hopeless geek is needed, a funny tamilian character is pictured like Shah Rukh Khan’s awful caricature in RA-one. On the other hand, south India is a big place, its half a subcontinent for god’s sake, there are other states and other communities (other than Iyers), who are also South Indian and who are tall, fair, handsome and crop their hair and even intone spontaneous shayari in Hindi or Urdu better than many North Indians do (hyderabadi mushairas for one). So to label all South Indians as Iyers is insulting to the people of Kerala, Karnataka, Andhra, Maharashtra, Orissa and also all the other communities of Tamil Nadu. But what else can you expect from ignorant Punjabi dominated Delhi’ites? Now if that hurt any North Indian who read it, let me assure you it was an harmless example to show how it hurts us South Indians, who are the other half of the subcontinent, to be ceaselessly lampooned as halfcrazy/halfgenius Iyers. So stop Iyer bashing, stop Tamilian bashing, stop South Indian bashing and find a better way to sell your motorcycles. Sell them on their merits and not with such stupid ads which inflame communal passions. This is also a Corporate Social Responsibility Hero Honda Motorcycle Corp. Get me?