This year’s Super Bowl, a football championship game that is also one of the most-watched events on American television, featured a 30-second commercial on the ongoing farmers’ agitation in India, terming it the “largest protest in history”.
The advertisement was funded by the Sikh community of Fresno, a city in central California, according to a grateful tweet from the Kisan Ekta Morcha handle, which is the official voice of the protesters. The 30-second spot in this year’s Super Bowl cost $5.5 million, and last year’s viewership of the championship was around 100 million.
The commercial begins with a quote from Martin Luther King: “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Images from the farmers’ tractor parade and their border camps are overlaid with text alleging human rights violations against protesters. Punjabi music plays as “No Farmers, No Food, No Future” flashes on the screen.
It includes a message from Fresno mayor Jerry Dyer. “We want you to know, our brothers and sisters in India, that we stand with you,” he says. Fresno has a large Sikh population, as high as 40,000, according to some local reports. Pop music icon Rihanna’s viral tweet on the protests also gets a mention.
“Fresno City community put that ad during the Super Bowl. This is great work by community to aware people regarding Farmers Protest. Thank you Fresno Sikh Community,” said the Kisan Ekta Morcha tweet.
After tweets from Rihanna and other international celebrities put a global spotlight on the protest, the Ministry of External Affairs rebuked them in an official statement. “The temptation of sensationalist social media hashtags and comments, especially when resorted to by celebrities and others, is neither accurate nor responsible,” it said.