Kolkata: On 24 January, around three in the afternoon: Some thirty odd people, mostly young women and men, gather in front of the Fastrack showroom on Kolkata’s Park Street. They hold banners and placards and raise slogans denouncing the Fastrack ad depicting a woman packaged with duct tapes dotted with the word, SALE – posters and hoardings of this horrible ad are all over the city. They are angry over such crass commodification of the female body and demand immediate withdrawal of the ad and public apology from the company. A handful of protesters are taking on India’s mightiest corporate house – Fastrack is a Tata brand.
The slogan-shouting reaches crescendo and soon a crowd of curious passersby block the pedestrians’ passage on the pavement. At some point, a sheet of paper materialises from thin air and gets passed around. It is the company’s letterhead on which there is a declaration, in clearly typed script, that the disgusting ad is being withdrawn since it ‘hurts the sentiments of a section of the population.’
The protesters are clearly not satisfied since the ads are still in place across the city. The slogan-shouting continues.
Soon, a small group from the protesting brigade go into the showroom to talk to the management. The management assures them that the ads will be removed by Monday 27 January.
The protesters disperse but not before burning the posters of the ad in a symbolic act. They vow to return if they find that the ad is not removed in the time promised by the management. Police appear at the scene after everything is over.
A small battle has been won – even the mightiest of India’s capitalists has had to relent. The fight will continue till the time capital’s hegemony over our beings is wiped out forever. Reclaim our bodies, our air and skies, our spaces and times, our loves and joys, our sorrows and griefs, and all that make us humans.