‘ According to the 2011 Census, the rate at which the unborn female child is killed amounts to killing off a million girls a year. As a result, the ratio between girls and boys has been affected -- the 2011 census revealed that there were only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys’
Female foeticide and empowerment of women seem to have become the favourite trending topics for Bollywood stars with Amitabh Bachchan, Vidya Balan and Ajay Devgn amongst the host of celebrities who have taken up the issues on screen and even off it.
There is the exploitative Bollywood of regressive themes, of course, but in a welcome development several stars are using their status and enormous clout to attempt to drive change in India.
Aamir Khan took up the issues with his debut TV show Satyamev Jayate and now Amitabh is using the small screen to increase awareness. He is using the promos of Kaun Banega Crorepati 6 as a platform to support the empowerment of women.
The megastar, who gets a rare chance to come face to face with the real Indians through his widely followed game show, says it's dismal to see the state of girls in small towns.
“In most places, they think it is a waste to spend money on girls' education. They even discriminate in giving girls proper food. It is sad,” said the 69-year-old. “I believe naari hamaare desh ki 50 per cent shakti hai (women form the country's 50 percent power).”
Just some months ago, Aamir blazed a trail when he brought up hard-hitting facts on female foeticide on the first episode of Satyamev Jayate. And he just didn't talk, he went beyond the realm of television, met ministers and steered some action against those who practise the heinous crime of killing a girl child in the womb.
According to the 2011 Census, the rate at which the unborn female child is killed amounts to killing off a million girls a year. As a result, the ratio between girls and boys has been affected -- the 2011 census revealed that there were only 914 girls for every 1,000 boys.
“Female foeticide is a very serious issue. And if it continues the way it is, it will get worse,” he said.
The buzz around her prompted actress Bipasha Basu, one among three sisters, to do something for the cause in Rajasthan.
“The rates in Rajasthan are alarmingly high. We have come leaps and beyond in terms of everything in life, but when we get to hear that people can kill their own child just on the basis of sex, the thinking seems just so small," Bipasha told IANS.
Independent and successful, Bipasha feels lucky because her parents think that the best thing that has happened to them is three beautiful, individual, different kinds of girls they have.
“And the kind of freedom my parents give to me, I really feel that people should realise the value of a child, irrespective of the sex,” she added.
Vidya has also been using her star status to drive change. She recently unveiled a giant abacus in Lusa village in Uttar Pradesh, urging women to study.
Ajay Devgn, who has a daughter and a son, has teamed with actress wife Kajol for a short film on female foeticide.
Ajay fights the allegation that actors have a personal motive for backing social causes. “The film on female foeticide is not for commercial purposes. It is to create awareness. I think it's our responsibility to do something that will create awareness about the issue of girl child and female foeticide,” Ajay said.
Filmmakers are equally geared up. Jalpari: The Desert Mermaid and Riwayat are two recent films that have attempted to delve into the aftermath of practices such as female foeticide.
Riwayat, a production by two NRI doctors from Australia, boasts of no big names. At the heart of the film is the emotional journey of three women from different walks of life and their trysts with foeticide.
National Award-winning filmmaker Nila Madhab Panda's Jalpari: The Desert Maid has Tannishtha Chatterjee and Parvin Dabbas playing key roles.
Tannishtha said, "When I read the script, I thought being a woman and an actress it is very important for me to support a film like this."
The mantle for social responsibility lay on just a few activist actors like Shabana Azmi, who recently held the third edition of her NGO Mijwan Welfare Society annual fashion show, supported by over 25 celebrities. There are others to share it now, also believing in entertainment with responsibility. (IANS)
That iconic little girl made of butter
Think of the changing times. Amul was once a small village enterprise. Today, it is a pan-India co-operative with a Rs 5,000 crore turnover and a whole range of products to sell, apart from butter.
Little girls are not particularly popular in India going by the declining child sex ratio in the country. But one little girl continues to flourish 50 years after she was created by adman Sylvester daCunha with some inspiration from his wife, Nisha, and illustrated by Eustace Fernandes. She is the Amul girl who first appeared on a billboard in 1966 and continues to rule the billboards to this day with her pixie looks, her polka dotted frock and her trademark ponytail. She is someone who sometimes gives you attitude, sometimes empathises with you, most times brings you up with the news and always making you smile, even chuckle, since she never fails to deliver a line or two that is catchy, simple, and memorable.
Think of the changing times. Amul was once a small village enterprise. Today, it is a pan-India co-operative with a Rs 5,000 crore turnover and a whole range of products to sell, apart from butter. The media has, of course, got utterly transformed over the last 50 years as well. From the humble billboard and radio spots to television and now the Internet, the changing media has also meant that advertising itself has had to constantly re-invent itself to stay relevant. And re-invent itself it has, driven by new concepts, new technologies and new ideas. But through it all, the little Amul girl has endured with her ‘utterly butterly delicious’ slogan, which still has a contemporary ring to it.
A new book, Amul’s India, compiled by Alpana Parida (Collins Business) recalls 50 years of Amul advertising by daCunha Communications. It has contributions from, among others, theatre and advertising honcho Alyque Padamsee, Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, ad man Rahul daCunha, television personality Rajdeep Sardesai, filmmaker Shyam Benegal, cricket commentator Sunil Gavaskar and Sylvester daCunha, the man who gave shape and form to the Amul advertising campaign.
Most of the contributions are insightful. Most are also nostalgic and see these ads as a throwback to a younger India and more innocent times. In those days when the media advertising circus was much smaller, the Amul girl stood out much taller than her three-and-a-half feet. But, as each of the contributors will assure you, she stands pretty tall even today.
Sylvester remembers how the Amul girl was created. She seems to have been a counterpoint to the Sophisticated Polson Lady – Polson being the butter of choice in those days. He talks about how the chairman of Amul, Dr Verghese Kurien, gave him and his team an absolutely free hand in the conceptualisation of the advertisement campaign. Kurien even told them that they could put up banners, without his approval. This is one of the reasons why Amul was able to respond so rapidly to local and international developments, anticipating the instant reporting of today’s new media.
Cultural commentator Santosh Desai, an ad man himself, analyses the evolution of the Amul campaign in the five decades it has been in existence and how it has managed to keep its relevance through the times, as India evolved from being a land of hunger to the swaggering behemoth it has now become – albeit still hungry – as the decades of liberalisation came and went and the politician was replaced by the celebrity as the exemplar in the public mind. This is the perfect setting for Rajdeep Sardesai to remember his childhood days as a Mumbai schoolboy.
While all the contributions are very well written, the best part of the book is undoubtedly the little posters that are reproduced with small explanations to give them the right context since you, as a reader, may have forgotten the original story. It is these posters that really make the book a collector’s item, especially if you are my sort of reader who prefers pictures to words in books!
The success of the Amul advertisement is undoubtedly because of the skillful use of what is known as the lowest form of wit – that is the pun. Yet, everyone and his aunt in India is a ‘pun-dit’, and the use of the pun is what has given the advertising its instant approachability. The other trick is that every Amul ad has two lines – one concerning the event in question; the other repeating the catchphrase that has lasted over the decades – “utterly butterly delicious”, or variations thereof. So when you are reading the advertisement you get two smart lines for the price of one. To add to the humour are the lovely and colourful illustrations – and the book has some extremely cute ones.
Remarkably, daCunha Communications has managed to maintain the quality of the ads, although it must have seen a large number of copywriters and artists come in and go out through its doors over the last 50 years. Yet, there can be no disputing, that the success of the campaign could not have been assured without the success of the butter on which it rode.
In fact, it may be appropriate to raise a toast (pun intended) to the butter that has enabled so many women to come out of poverty and has enriched so many breakfast tables for so many people across the country, over so many years. And while we are at it, let us also raise a toast to the little girl who defies mortality and who has now, along with Air-India’s ‘maharaja’, become a part of the national imagination. (Women’s Feature service)