The use of Mahatma Gandhi's image on beer cans and bottles by a US company has raised hackles with a petition being filed in a Hyderabad court alleging it had insulted the father of the nation following which the liquor company has apologised.
The Connecticut-based New England Brewing Company even claimed that its intention was to pay homage and celebrate the apostle of peace and that Gandhi's granddaughter and grandson have expressed their admiration for the label.
The beer brand is called 'Gandhi-Bot', which the company says is an intensely hopped double India pale with a blend of three varieties of American Hops.
An advocate has filed a petition before XI Metropolitan Magistrate, Cyberabad, Sunkari Janardhan Goud contending that Gandhi's image on the alcohol cans and description of the father of the nation by the brewery is highly condemnable and punishable under Indian laws.
The petition submitted that it amounts to offences under Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, and 124-A of IPC (related to us inflammatory words, signs or visible representation). The petition is slated to come up for hearing tomorrow.
However, Matt Westfall, head brewer and partner at the New England Brewing Company, said the company apologises if the sentiments of Indian people have been hurt.
"We do apologise if the good people of India find our Gandhi-Bot label offensive. Our intent is not to offend anyone but rather pay homage and celebrate a great man who we respect greatly.
"We take great care in creating a product we hope will not be abused in the manner that Mahatma Gandhi spoke of when referencing alcohol," Westfall said in an e-mail response to PTI. "Aromatic and fully vegetarian, Gandhi-Bot is an ideal aid for self-purification and the seeking of truth and love," the company says on its web site.
"We hope that not only our product is consumed responsibly with fine food and friends but that they are also inspired to learn more about Mahatma Gandhi and his non-violent methods of civil disobedience. So many Indian people here in American love our tribute to the great man," Westfall said.
"Gandhi's granddaughter and grandson have seen the label and have expressed their admiration of the label. We hope that you understand our true intent and respect the method and the freedom we have to show our reverence for Gandhi," he said. The company's products are not sold internationally.