Jeff Bezos on Fortune cover as Lord Vishnu irks Hindus

A Fortune magazine cover of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos resembling Hindu god Vishnu has drawn outrage from the community in the US over “trivialisation of their venerated deity
A Fortune magazine cover of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos resembling Hindu god Vishnu has drawn outrage from the community in the US over “trivialisation of their venerated deity”.
A Fortune magazine cover of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos resembling Hindu god Vishnu has drawn outrage from the community in the US over “trivialisation of their venerated deity”.
Updated on Jan 12, 2016 04:35 PM IST
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Hindustan Times | By, New Delhi

A Fortune magazine cover of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos resembling Hindu god Vishnu has drawn outrage from the community in the US over “trivialisation of their venerated deity”.

The January issue of the magazine’s international edition features a story about Amazon’s expansion in India. The cover piece, titled ‘Amazon Invades India’, talks about how Bezos “aims to conquer the next trillion-dollar market”. An illustration of the Amazon CEO striking a customary form of Vishnu can be seen on the cover.

“Lord Vishnu is a highly revered major deity in Hinduism meant to be worshipped in temples or home shrines and not to be used indecorously or thrown around loosely in reimagined versions for dramatic effects,” Nevada-based Hindu statesman Rajan Zed wrote in a statement emailed to Hindustan Times.

The outrage against the cover also spilled onto social media soon after the latest edition of the magazine hit newsstands. “Ok, cool @FortuneMagazine now do one with Bezos as Jesus in honor of Black Friday?” American technologist and blogger Anil Dash tweeted. “Also, many Indian people (like my dad) were born under colonial rule. So a headline discussing a corporate ‘invasion’ is probably not ideal,” he said in another tweet.

“Can’t tell what’s worse: the text, the visual, or the fact that it must have passed multiple layers of approval,” a Twitter user named Manu tweeted in response to Dash’s post.

Fortune Editor-In-Chief Alan Murray, however, was quick to apologise over the controversial cover. “Fair point, Anil. Apologies to those offended,” he tweeted.

CEO of technology firm Stripe, Patrick Collison, said Fortune wasn’t the only publication that had used the image of a CEO with shades of a religious figure. “I think these magazines *are* totally willing to be sacrilegious with Christian imagery too,” he tweeted with the image of a cover by The Economist that shows Steve Jobs as Moses, presenting the iPad.

“…inappropriate usage of Hinduism concepts and symbols for pushing selfish agenda or mercantile greed was not okay,” Zed said. He pointed out that Hindus understood the purpose of Fortune in this case apparently was not to denigrate Hinduism, but “casual flirting” like this sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrine.

“Humour is a part and parcel of Hindu society, but there were certain convictions in every tradition, which were venerable and not meant to be taken lightly,” he added.

The Fortune cover page has been created by Sydney-based illustrator Nigel Buchanan. His clients include The Wall Street Journal, MTV, The New York Times, etc.

Fortune Magazine, launched in 1930 and published from New York by Time Inc., claims to be “a global leader in business journalism with a worldwide circulation of more than 1 million and a readership of nearly 5 million”. It is published 18 times a year.

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