This Just In: DIPP and Designers go Defensive as “Make in India” Lion Faces Plagiarism Allegations

By Harish S. Adwant

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), on behalf of the government, disregarded the reports alleging that the ‘Make in India’ logo has been derived from a Swiss bank’s advertisement campaign. The DIPP has maintained that the (Lion) Logo depicts a “vibrant and dynamic” lion as against the “dull and boring” logo used by the Swiss bank.

A possible instance of plagiarism was reported by; where its reporters spotted a picture on the outer body of a train in Zurich and pointed out the ‘resemblance’ between the ‘Make in India’ symbol and the saidpicture used in the advertisement campaign of the Cantonal Bank of Zurich, Switzerland. Owing to this, the media was carrying comments claiming that the ‘Make in India’ logo was a copy of the advertising picture used by CBZ.

The report highlighted that the picture depicted on the advertisement campaign, which was launched on July 4, 2013, was designed by Nadine Geissbulher. On the other hand, the ‘Make in India’ initiative commenced on September 25, 2014 and the industrial lion silhouette was designed by the Indian subsidiary of the US-based agency named Wieden+Kennedy. The complete report can be accessed here.

Mr. V. Sunil, Executive Creative Director of Wieden+Kennedy has comprehensively defended any kind of plagiarism charges. “For starters, the Ashoka is one of the strongest symbols of India, it’s a natural and obvious connection – the four lions and the chakra – wheel of progress. When we decided to use the lion, that’s what we were thinking,” said Mr. Sunil.

“The industrial wheels design is just one of 30 lions, each represents a different sector – auto parts, textiles, etc. This is amusing. There’s absolutely no reason for a country like ours to copy some random lion off a train.”

Mr. Amitabh Kant, Secretary of DIPP, in a chain of tweets, posted all the 30 ‘Make in India’ logos and commented that all these lions were “vibrant and dynamic” and none of them resembled the “dull, boring and monotonous Swiss or Cuban Lions”. He also said that, “Since time immemorial, lion has been the official emblem of India. It stands for courage, tenacity and wisdom — all Indian values”. “Wheel in Ashoka Chakra forms the centrepiece of India’s national flag. Wheel denotes peaceful progress & dynamism” he further tweeted. Kant deliberated on the design of the logo by tweeting, “The logo is inspired by India’s strongest symbol ever – The Ashoka emblem + a bit of RBI”.

As far as copyright infringement is concerned, it is quite evident from the above photographs that even though it may seem like the expression of a similar idea, the expressions themselves are distinct from one another.

Author’s Opinion

The ‘Make in India’ initiative portrays the culture, ethos and spirit of the Indian economy in its entirety. It is a national program conceptualized and designed by the present government to facilitate investment, foster innovation, enhance skill development and build best-in-class manufacturing infrastructure in India. The program symbolizes its deep-rooted existence in India.

I think that it is highly preposterous that an initiative, which invites countries to invest in India, is being accused of plagiarism. The origin of the logo reveals the fundamental elements that epitomize India on a global stage. I would question the intentions of any person who levels any plagiarism charges against a national campaign without even a speck of proof up their sleeves.


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