On Sunday, an advertisement by the IndusInd Bank on many newspapers featured six Indian para-athletes including the medal winners at the recently concluded Paralympic Games in Rio. What irked many however, was that the ad titled 'Gold. Silver. Bronze' did not feature Mariyappan Thangavelu, gold medalist in the high jump T42 category. The ad featured Devendra Jhajharia (Javelin Throw) gold medalist, Deepa Malik (Shot put) who had claimed a silver and Varun Singh Bhati (High Jump) who had won a bronze medal along with three other athletes.
This created a furore over social media and questions were asked why Mariyappan was left out.
#StopDescrimination Mariappan has won Gold at Rio , But @MyIndusIndBank avoided him to add their ad's. Need action pic.twitter.com/mitZwRN687â€” Manoj SavarimuthuRaj (@manojprabakar4) September 25, 2016
One Facebook user asked: "Where is Mariyappan" and another user commented "TN is not part of India as per your ads on paralympians" .
Many others left comments on the bank's social media pages questioning the ad and calling it an act of 'discrimination'
On Monday, the Bank issued a statement saying that Mariyappan was not featured in the ad due to a contractual agreement and not because of any regional bias.
Apart from Mariyappan, all the other medal winners were backed by the GoSports Foundation, a non-profit trust to promote Indian sports based in Bengaluru with whom IndusInd runs the 'Para Champions Programme'.
Hi Selva, we are proud of Mr. Mariyappan Thangaveluâ€™s victory & have congratulated him for his performance at Rio 2016 Paralympics. But since he is not a part of the Para-champions program with GoSports Foundation, as per contract, we cannot use his name/images for any of our communication. Read about our program & the associated athletes http://bit.ly/2doK49VLet us know of any queries. Weâ€™ll be happy to answer.
Mariyappan created history by winning a gold medal (Indiaâ€™s third ever) in the men's high jump T-42 event at the Rio Paralympics.
Mariyappan was born in Periavadamgatti village, about 50km away from Salem in Tamil Nadu. He was one of the four Indian medal winners at the games.