• Swachh Bharat TVC: Only Laxmiji can stop India from littering?

    It’s a smart approach, I’ll give them that. But the right approach? I doubt that. A campaign that plays on religion is a big no-no for me. I guess most of you have seen this Swachch Bharat Television Commercial with Kangana Ranaut, the ‘Queen’ of Bollywood.  

    The TVC starts with a man doing his regular morning puja while his wife goes out to throw the trash onto the streets. When she comes back both of them realise the photo of their deity is empty and we see a red dupatta exiting the screen, implying the Goddess has left their house. The same visual of an empty photo frame of a deity is repeated in different situations wherever anyone has littered the streets of the city. The communication being that Goddess Laxmi (Kangana Ranaut in a red saree) does not reside where there is no cleanliness. The idea of “cleanliness is next to Godliness” is shown literally in the advertisement. And that’s got me thinking.

    Why do we need religion as a reason to fix our bad habits?

    Why can’t we learn to realise that littering is a civic problem. We need to spell it out to citizens. Educate them. Change their upbringing on the issue. Be strict, be straight and honest that this won’t fly. Fine them. What’s this using religion as a hook to make people learn. And why? While I won’t be surprised if this campaign actually works for the government, but I don’t see why we need to veil this. People are okay to get sick? Have garbage dumps next to their homes (or their neighbour’s as the case is often!)? I remember hearing of a campaign that wanted to ensure people didn’t pee on public walls. So what did they do? Stuck posters of deities on them.

    Celebrity? Not another one!

    So we are convinced. None other than a celebrity can teach Indians good manners? Kangana Ranaut as the Laxmi Goddess, and a powerful narration by none other than Amitabh Bachchan. It also features Isha Kopikkar and Ravi Kishan. Let’s get aam janta to do this? Aam people for aam problems. Show the reality?

    Laxmi Ji For All?

    According to the 2011 Census, Hindus make up to 79% of the population, Muslims 14%, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists and Jains make up the rest. Agreed that India is a country of Hindu majority, the ad specifically targets them asking them to keep their city clean in the hopes of keeping Laxmi, the money Goddess happy. There is a definite part of our people who don’t necessarily believe in laxmi ji? Now are we going to make Kangana Ranaut incarnate into other gods from different religions too?

    That Underlying Assumption, Money Is All That Matters

    Laxmi, the goddess of money. Who else could they have portrayed? Saraswati perhaps? The goddess of knowledge…imparting us the brains to not litter? Why laxmi. Because we believe Indians will do anything for money! And we would only want to keep her happy. Cmon, can’t we do better than that?

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    My take

    IF the advertisement does work, I’ll honestly be very disappointed in their beliefs. Don’t get me wrong, it’ll be great to get closer to the dream of Clean India, but seriously, did you guys need a bhagwaan to change you? We can’t credit something like cleanliness to human behaviour can we? I’m talking to that lot who will suddenly feel ashamed of throwing a piece of paper on the streets just because he or she thinks it’s “religiously” wrong. Or the money will run out? (Imagining a tijori flying out of the house in Govinda istyle!) We’re talking about basic civic sense here. A simple fact that litter and dirt leads to number of sanitation problems does not ring a bell with us? Do we always need a God to change our perspective?

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    I’m not being insensitive to religion, but I’m damn well being insensitive to those who don’t understand logic and reasoning behind the Clean India Campaign. You have no one to blame but yourself when you let a set of people play you under the name of your God.

    These are my views. What are your views on this campaign? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.  

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