Why is #BoycottBBC trending in India?

Social media users have once again come together for what seems to be a favourite pastime in recent years - a call for boycott. This time, the offending party is the UK's public service broadcaster, BBC and the problem lies with a recently aired BBC Sounds show that remains available on the BBC website.

The contentious Asian Network's Big Debate audio features anchor Pria Rai and immigration lawyer Harjap Bhangal. "Do you feel proud seeing the turban being referred to as a crown in Eastenders?" the show asks. Formatted much in the manner of a talk show, the three hour long programme took calls from listeners and sought various viewpoints on whether the "turban and racism storyline" was acceptable to Sikhs in the country.

The conversation ran through a gamut of topics - from racism in the UK to the ongoing farmers' protest in Delhi and more. While the show itself was a non-issue, one caller caught the ears of thousands of people for his vulgar and offensive remarks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his mother.

The caller who was identified only as 'Simon' had gone off on a rather abusive tangent. And while the host tried to steer the conversation back to an acceptable direction, the show's decision to air the audio as well as keeping it up and available for others to listen to has irked many.

Needless to say that the problematic comments have since provoked outrage on social media. At present #BoycottBBC is top trend in India with nearly 50 thousand tweets. Simply put, netizens want BBC to be boycotted for abusing the Prime Minister and his mother.

Of course this being Twitter, there are now several tangential and parallel demands that have cropped up. While some are calling the media organisation "anti-India" others want the BBC as a whole to to be "banned".

Many BJP leaders and verified or influential Twitter handles have also jumped onto the 'boycott' bandwagon, thereby amplifying the demand. It is however unclear whether the UK-based channel will be taking any action. Thus far there has been no follow-up comment from the BBC.

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Free Press Journal