Irresponsible censorship & advertising

The subjective reporting in which Rajat Sharmas of India TV indulge in routine manner must be criticised. Last night while reading the news about how Gujarat Government has ensured that the Cinema Halls in Gujarat would not allow the screening of Aamir Khan's forthcoming film Fanaa in the state, Sharma said, Aamir Khan's involvement in the issue was uncalled for. He should have kept himself confined to movies.

The reason for Fanaa's boycott being that Aamir Khan had supported the victims of Narmada Dam project who were seeking just rehablitation Aamir Khan-starrer Fanaa is going to be released on May 26. It is no one's case that Khan is activist. Had he been so he would not have been advertising for Coca Cola company, which has robbed the villagers in Kerela and Madhya Pradesh of their ground water but such support to the autocracy of the state is unbecoming of media persons.

It is the same mindset of the Indian government which has put on hold the Friday release of 'The Da Vinci Code' following representations from Christian groups that it offended their faith.

Even as Priya Ranjan Dasmunshi, the Information and Broadcasting Ministry will decide on the release of 'The Da Vinci Code' in India. The Tom Hanks thriller is all set for a glitzy world premiere at the Cannes film festival today. But in India, we become more christian than the christian countries and more Islamic than the Muslim countries as was the case with Satanic Verses.

Earlier responding to the all round support for the victims of Sardar
Sarovar dam on Narmada, there was a combined religious and corporate reaction (followed by poltical) to it with a full page advertisment in The Times of India on April, 15, 2005 which read, 'we support the
earliest completion of the "Sardar Sarovar Project". Sardar Sarovar
Project is the source of abundant water and power for Madhya Pradesh,
Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Let the Nation progress. Let us
have food, energy and security. Let our country grow and bring
prosperity to the people.'

At the bottom of this advertisement are the photographs of Pujya
Madhav Priadasji, Pujya Rameshbhai Oza, Pujya Swami Sachidanandji,
Pujya Pramukh Swami, Pujya Morari Bapu, Pujya Tejendraprasadji,
Pujya Indirabetiji, Mukesh Ambani(Reliance Group), Anil Ambani
(Reliance-ADA Group), Kumar Mangalam Birla (Aditya Birla Group),
Sushi Ruja (Essar Group), Shrenik Kasturbhai (Arvind Mills Ltd.),
Karsanbhai Patel (Nirma Ltd.), Sudhir Mehta (Torrent Group), Gautam
Adani (Adani Group), I A Modi (Cadila Group), Pankaj Patel (Zydus
Group), Anil Naik (L&T), Uday Kotak (Kotak Mahindra Ltd.).

The TOI ad was an unsigned ad-the immorality and unethical practice this enatails does not need any elaboration to the students and practioners of media but some media houses like The Times of India, The Hindustan Times, Indian Express and India TV need to be told by some agency that they can not publicise something to the effect that poison is non-poisnous with no one to take them to task.

The TOI ad does make it clear as to who all are the stakeholders of the Narmada Dam project, interestingly the ad does not mention that farmers and common people are the beneficiaries of the project nor does their photographs find any place.

HT has been carrying stories on Sardar Sarovar Project which resembles paid advertisments, which is not sursprsing given the papers being a products of Birlas.

Apart from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting that decides to intervene when it wants to, there are only voluntary groups like the 'Advertising Agencies Association Of India', and the 'Advertising Standards Council Of India (ASCI)', both of which are business organisations and can only put moral pressure on advertisers and companies to withdraw objectionable advertisements.

In other parts of the world, there exist voluntary groups like the 'Adbusters' that watch and pressure governments to clamp down on aggressive and intrusive advertising.

The Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), set up in 1985, is a voluntary group of members and has adopted a self-regulatory code for advertising. The composition of the Board of ASCI is fairly representative of advertisers, ad agencies, the media and allied professions. But it does not seem to be having enough teeth to deal with misleading, factually incorrect and unsigned ads.

How to respond to the injustice of propaganda in a country where the Advertising Laws are non-existent?.

If there are some laws which regulate advertising, members of this group are requested to share it.


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