Voices in India Inc begin piping up against handling of CAA and NRC protests

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on January 09, 2020 Published on January 09, 2020

File photo

Kishore and Harsh Mariwala, Anand Mahindra, Vineet Nayar and Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw raise their voices against the violence unleashed on JNU's students and the manner in which dissent is being handled

India Inc has largely been silent over the nationwide protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). But following the violence that was unleashed by a mob of masked thugs on the students of Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) last Sunday, and the reaction that it sparked across the country, a few corporate leaders have begun speaking up.

Earlier this week, industrialist Kishore V Mariwala shared a personal experience on Facebook to express his dismay over the impact of current developments on India’s image overseas. In the post, the former board member of Marico narrated how he was perceived as being anti-Muslim when he visited Thailand.

Mariwala had chartered a yacht with a skipper in Phuket Thailand. When he reached the charter company’s office, the industrialist was asked if he was from India and was a Hindu. When he confirmed this, the receptionist called her manager. After the duo confabulated, the manager said: “Sir, all our skippers except one have gone with our other yachts. The only one left is a Muslim. I hope you don’t mind that.”

Mariwala was shocked and asked: “Why are you asking this? Why should I mind?”

“Sir”, the manager responded: “We read in the newspapers that Hindus don’t want Muslims near them so we were worried about it”!

The conversation left Mariwala shell-shocked. He took to Facebook to express his embarrassment and disappointment.“I was ashamed beyond words. I explained to him that not only I, but most cultured Hindus don’t behave like what you must’ve read! Is this our reputation abroad amongst common people? I was really ashamed,” he said.

The incident came in the wake of the protests against the CAA and NRC, which have been labelled as being anti-Muslim measures and sparked off nationwide protests, especially on college campuses. The Act has also been criticised overseas.

India Inc begins showing unease

Responses have been pouring in on social media from India Inc over the handling of the anti-CAA and anti-NRC protests. Masked thugs, allegedly belonging to BJP student wing ABVP had brutally attacked JNU students last Sunday and vandalised the university campus.

Marico Chairman and Kishore’s nephew Harsh Mariwala has criticised the violence unleashed against protesters. In a Tweet on Monday, he condemned the brutal attack on the JNU students. “Coming from a land of non-violence, it’s unbecoming of us to witness and encourage these acts of violence,” he said.

Anand Mahindra, Chairman of the Mahindra Group, had also condemned the JNU attacks in a Tweet. “It doesn't matter what your politics are. It doesn't matter what your ideology is. It doesn't matter what your faith is. If you're an Indian, you cannot tolerate armed, lawless goons. Those who invaded JNU tonight must be traced & hunted down swiftly & given no quarter…,” he said.

Vineet Nayar, ex Vice Chairman & CEO, HCL technologies, also tweeted: “What happened at JNU last night is shameful and absolutely unacceptable. What kind of India we wish to build where we are unable to talk out our differences and use violence as a tool to instil fear. Indians make India, not goons. Punish these goons!”

Speaking up for freedom of expression

Corporates had also voiced their opinions earlier on the handling of anti-CAA protests and the police action in Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University in December.

Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman and Managing Director, Biocon Ltd had tweeted in support of JNU and AMU following the response to the anti-CAA protests. “This is shocking n reflects the total lack of understanding of fundamental freedom to express dissent – a peaceful protest shd not be mishandled in this manner.” Shaw had also commented on a Tweet about the JNU attack with the comment,“This is unpardonable. Violence cannot be condoned.”

Harsh Goenka, Chairman, RPG group, who often voices his opinions on the micro-blogging platform, had earlier shared an anecdote of his own, indirectly condemning the current events. Goenka said, “Hearing me pray for Australia, for its people, for its 500 million animals that have died since the #bushfires, my little one asked why are you not praying for India where there are religious bushfires lit all over the country and students being attacked mercilessly? #JNUViolence”


Published on January 09, 2020
  1. Comments will be moderated by The Hindu Business Line editorial team.
  2. Comments that are abusive, personal, incendiary or irrelevant cannot be published.
  3. Please write complete sentences. Do not type comments in all capital letters, or in all lower case letters, or using abbreviated text. (example: u cannot substitute for you, d is not 'the', n is not 'and').
  4. We may remove hyperlinks within comments.
  5. Please use a genuine email ID and provide your name, to avoid rejection.