• Dr. Mohan Dewan

Concepts that divide us as a society are not few. We are conditioned into thinking that discrimination is a form of systemization. While some concepts and ideologies are a product of circumstance, such as geography, time, weather conditions, etc., others are products of human intervention, including differences in castes, religion, race, sexual inclination, and the like.

Somehow, over the years, the differences formed as a result of human intervention have been distorted and used by some people for personal gain. In my opinion, commercial gain and personal aggrandizement is the root of concepts such as racism and slavery, communalism, casteism and all other forms of racial prejudice. The classic example of this was the concept of Apartheid in Southern Africa. The “whites” took over all land assets in their favour and left the crumbs off the table for the non-whites. These divisions have been thriving from time immemorial to modern times- through all the ages. They have led to revolutions, world wars, massacres, riots and genocides. The question is Why? Why is it that things that are corroding civil society from within, have been able to survive and thrive inspite of the society’s ever changing nature towards the humane and the compassionate? I believe, it is because of ignorance, apathy and lack of compassion that we have towards those suffering, that has discouraged society from eradicating these divisions completely.

I also think that this is the reason, why even several decades after slavery was abolished, in the USA: “the land of the free and the home of the brave”, disheartening cases like those of George Floyd still occur. The mass protests against Racism and practices of racial discrimination in the wake of this event are only an inner response coming out to the fore. I think, in the minds of the protestors it was not the act itself that caused revulsion, but the fact that the police, whose ostensible duty is to protect the society caused the event to happen.

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Let this be an opportunity for the government machinery and large influential corporations to initiate a different kind of thinking and show their solidarity towards such causes. Branding, today, is everything. The value of a product and its popularity in the market is dependent upon the brands and taglines. It is seen that many famous brands have shown their solidarity to various issues in the past using their brands.

You’ll recall our article on brands having promoted social distancing. Read it here. Similarly, in light of the recent protest against Racism various brands have put out statements in creative ways to show their support against racial discrimination:


There have been various instances where trademarks have seemingly hurt the sentiments of a particular group of people or origin. The case of the “Red Skins” trademark is a case in point. Again, we have the case of the famous rock band “The Slants”. Mr. Simon Shiao Tam established a dance-rock band and decided to name it “The Slants”. The band consisted of members who were of Asian American origin. Tam also applied for trademark registration of THE SLANTS. The same was earlier refused. This was because, the word Slants is used as a derogatory term to refer to South East Asians. It is considered to be a racial slur. However, the Supreme Court of the US allowed the registration stating that it was a part of their right to speech. As upholders of Constitutional values it is important for government and judicial authorities to ensure that they don’t, knowingly or unknowingly promote racial discrimination, or discrimination in any form whatsoever. One of the absolute grounds of refusal of a trademark registration is if the mark is likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of any section or citizen in India. These marks will not proceed to registration.

Big brand owners need to understand that they influence their customers. But ultimately, businesses sell what the consumers need. It is only when the thinking of the consumer will change and remain steadfast on acceptance and compassion that brands will be able to truly change.


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