In a storm of controversy surrounding the India tour of Canadian-based rapper Shubhneet Singh, popularly known as Shubh, two homegrown Indian startups, boAt and BookMyShow, find themselves caught in the crossfire. The tour, which was set to take place in various Indian cities, faced a backlash due to Shubh’s past social media posts featuring a distorted map of India.
In response to the backlash, Team Innovation, the organizer of the India tour, decided to cancel the event. Mounting criticism and concerns about potential disruptions during the tour prompted the cancellation. Team Innovation faced public pressure to address the issue and ultimately decided to call off the tour.
boAt’s Patriotic Stand
D2C audio products brand boAt, an authentic Indian brand at its core, decided to withdraw its sponsorship of the Still Rollin concert. The company’s decision emerged from its deep commitment to Indian values and cultural sensitivity. Shubh’s earlier controversial remarks prompted boAt to distance itself from the tour, sending a powerful message about the brand’s priorities. The brand posted its statement on X (formerly Twitter), saying it respects Indian culture and will continue fostering a vibrant music culture.
BookMyShow’s Ticketing Turmoil
BookMyShow, one of India’s leading online ticket-booking platforms, found itself in the eye of the storm as it was selling tickets for the now-canceled tour. Social media erupted with calls for a boycott of the platform, with users expressing their displeasure over its involvement in the event.
The hashtag #UninstallBookMyShow trended on social media, reflecting the influence of public sentiment in the digital age. Users urged the platform to reconsider its sponsorship decisions and uphold Indian values. This thought made them cancel the show from their end with a promise to issue a refund within 5-7 days.
Shubh’s Controversial Posts
The controversy began when Shubh shared a distorted map of India on his Instagram story, notably excluding regions like Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir. His caption, “Pray for Punjab,” ignited immediate criticism and allegations of support for the Khalistani movement. Although Shubh later deleted the map, replacing it with a more neutral message, the damage was done.
As the controversy escalated, the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), demanded strict action against Shubh and the cancellation of his India tour. The public outcry against the tour and its sponsors intensified.
Moj Takes a Stand As Well
Moj, a short video-sharing platform, removed Shubh’s songs from its music library, citing its commitment to nurturing a positive creator community and refusing to align with artists propagating divisive content. This move reflects the increasing scrutiny brands and platforms face regarding the content they promote.
This controversy serves as a stark reminder that companies operating in India must navigate a diverse and sometimes sensitive sociopolitical landscape. How businesses respond to such challenges can significantly impact their reputation and standing in the Indian market.
The boAt and BookMyShow controversy surrounding Shubh’s India tour highlights the importance of cultural and national sensitivity in corporate sponsorships and partnerships, especially in a diverse and complex market like India. As businesses grapple with such challenges, their responses will shape their image and standing in the eyes of the Indian public.
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