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HindustanTimes Sat,23 Aug 2014

Tehelka case: Festival sponsors keep low profile, will wait and watch

Vivek Sinha and Anupama Airy, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, November 24, 2013
First Published: 00:58 IST(24/11/2013) | Last Updated: 01:36 IST(24/11/2013)

The large corporations that had sponsored Tehelka’s high profile annual festival Think this year, and in previous years, are watching the situation following the charges of sexual assault against Tarun Tejpal, not sure if they will continue their association with the event, if it takes place next year.

Several large Indian and multinational companies and organisations such as Bharti Airtel, Essar Group, DLF, Coca-Cola, Unitech, Toyota, Bhel, IndusInd Bank and Goa Tourism, among others, had sponsored the 2013 edition of Think, which was held at Grand Hyatt in Goa from November 8-10.

The 2013 edition of Think was called “Airtel Think 2013”. Bharti Airtel was non-committal about its continued association with this event. 

“We have no comments,” the Bharti group spokesperson said in response to a question on the group’s association with the festival that the Think website describes as “… Tehelka’s signature annual event... designed to be India’s most eclectic, thought-provoking and egalitarian platform for ideas from across the globe.”

A senior Bharti Airtel executive, who was involved with the decision to sponsor the event, told Hindustan Times on condition of anonymity: “We have sponsored the event for the last two years. The proposal is made each year and is evaluated by our team. Next year, if they make a proposal, our team will examine it and take an appropriate decision in line with our corporate philosophy and brand.”

“Sponsorship is all about brand image… when the promoter-editor of Tehelka is himself involved in a sexual assault case, then any association with his event will get our company unnecessary negative publicity. We will probably avoid this event in future,” said the brand manager of another firm that had sponsored Think 2013.

“We will take a decision in due course,” said an Essar Group spokesperson. The group was one of the principal sponsors of the 2013 edition of Think.


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