Screen the content on TV

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 24 Dec 2017 10:57:47

The salvo fired by the I & B Ministry regarding airing of condom ads has stirred a hornet’s nest. Like always, there are two schools of thought - some are praising it while others are harsh in their criticism. But is it only such ads on the Television that are explicit in their content? Aasawari Shenolikar, Deputy Editor, The Hitavada delves into the issue of content on the TV and also provides us with a view on why awareness about contraception is need of the hour


Channels should not air condom ads from 6 am to 10 pm - a directive issued by the I&B Ministry to the TV channels.

The missile that was fired on Dec 11 instantly received a lot of flak from various NGOs and the Ministry was quick to add that this would pertain only to those ads that are ‘sexually explicit’ in nature. The stand was taken after many complaints were received from the viewers who thought that such ads were ‘titillating’ in nature and were adversely affecting the young impressionable minds.

Fair enough!

The Ministry responded in a positive manner.

A welcome move!

Television, as we all know, is an integral part of our homes. Families might not have a toilet under their roofs, but a television will find a place of pride on their walls. With this as the sole means of entertainment these days, the TV is on in most of the families all the day long. Children are fascinated by the flashing images and within no time, many become addicted to the idiot box. So the advisory passed by the I&B Ministry will bring a smile on to many a parents’ face. Their children now will no longer be fascinated by the sultry Sunny Leone rolling in the wet sands, with the waves
gently rolling over her near naked body. The children will no longer be privy to her mouthing sinful pleasures.

What a relief!

But parents, just pick up the remote and surf the channels. Pause, let’s pick a random channel like TLC . A channel that airs programmes about Travel, Leisure and Cuisine. Nothing could be safer than such a channel.



Wait for a break in any programme that is being aired during day time or evening hours on TLC and you will be shocked out of your wits when you see the content. When an advertisement about their 11 pm programme ‘Undressed Australia’ is flashed, even the so-called hardcore liberals will be shocked. Couples undress and in the barest of outfits perform acts that should be relegated to the privacy of their bedroom. Another programme titled ‘Hot Girls’, is, well, about hot girls in bikinis strutting their stuff for all to see - and this is a series that is on travel around the world. Who is taking note of all this objectionable content and protesting against it?

Let the remote now pause at any music channel. Watch closely the innumerable people grooving to the beats of the song, hear the lyrics and be baffled at the soch of the lyricist whose dirty mind works at super top speed spinning out dirty ditties. The picturisation of such songs is of a different low level, that can make many a sane parents’ head hang in shame. Bollywood, clearly, doesn’t mince any lyrics when it comes to songs and sexual innuendoes. All these are being freely aired on the innumerable music channels, day in and day out. And our young children are not only mouthing such songs, they are even trying to imitate the vulgar and suggestive gyrating grooving by the actors on the screen. Clearly there is no regulation laid out for banning any of these songs. What makes it worse is that there are some songs available freely on the World Wide Web that come with a discretionary tag. ‘Listen under parental guidance.’

What parental guidance?

On the WWW, everything - objectionable or not - is free for viewing. What the site will ask you is ‘if you are 18 years of age’ and most, who are not, will slyly tick the ‘yes’ box. There is no means of checking whether the information put in by the viewer is correct or not. Once the green signal is received, then any type of content is available freely on the Internet. With children as young as six and seven year olds deftly handling the mobile sets, surfing for content that might be obnoxious for kids, is a cause of concern, for this harmful content can adversely affect a young child’s thoughts. The concern is far greater when it comes to dealing with the Internet, for children can fall prey to unseen enemies that are adept at victimising innocent minds.

The web of what is right and wrong, objectionable or clean, is complicated; the line between decency and immorality is very thin, but is it a line that children must not be allowed to cross at an age when their thinking ability is not yet developed. So the step taken by the I&B Ministry should be appreciated for it is for the well being of the young generation. This is just a small step. Much more, and on a priority basis needs to be done. Part of the responsibility lies with the parents too. They need to restrict the viewing, they need to be strict about the content that their kids are watching and even at the cost of being labelled regressive themselves, they need to curb the involvement of kids with various gadgets.

The rectangle box that adorns the walls of our homes, or the small rectangular gadget in our palms, or the laptops and iPads - indispensable gadgets on our study tables - are but monsters that have the power to promote promiscuity. The authorities need to wake up and work diligently on a system that can screen the content which the children have easy access to on all these gadgets. It’s a tall order, but an order that can shape or break a young mind.


 The Other View…..

Change mindset for progress

“In our country contraception is a serious issue that needs to be tackled on a priority basis,” says Dr Anjali Tempe, Head of Department, Gynaecology, Maulana Azad Medical College Campus, New Delhi.

Reacting to the ban imposed by the I&B Ministry on the condom ads, she says that effective ways and means need to be implemented so that awareness is created about how important contraception is and why it is necessary to space out children. In our country, when a woman conceives and what she delivers plays an important factor in how she is treated in her in-laws homes. Delivery of a boy soon after marriage elevates her status, else she is harangued till she delivers a baby boy. God forbid, if two of her progenies are girls, she will be forced to
conceive (and many times abort) till a son is born. In the process she suffers physically and mentally as well.

“Which is why awareness about contraception is very important,” reiterates Dr Tempe. Media can play an effective role in creating this awareness. The effectiveness cannot be achieved simply by airing ads that border on being titillating, but by airing educational and informative programmes that tackle the issues at the very basic levels. “It’s sad that educated families who can afford to bring up a couple of kids, stop at one or are happy being DINKS. The poor people, who can barely afford a square meal a day are the ones who produce kids, one after the other, on a regular basis,” she says. The reason is that the Infant Mortality Rate in our country is one of the poorest. Most poor or uneducated families believe that if they have more children, at least some will survive. And hence they go on a producing spree. Citing the example of her maid, Dr Tempe says that because of this belief, the maid servant who has three kids, conceived a number of times - underwent abortions a couple of times, and miscarried a couple of times. This, when she was constantly being taught, reproached by the doctor couple. Imagine what would be happening in the hinterlands where poverty and illiteracy are the major villains. “Contraception will work only when the infant mortality rate comes down and people are assured that their progeny will be healthy and alive,” she asserts.

Poonam Mutreja, Executive Director of the Population Foundation of India is also of the view that awareness about contraception is necessary. She is of the view that “if advertisements are a way to create demand for safe sex and family planning then we need to ensure that it is not stifled by restrictions. We should not undo decades of progress on sexual and reproductive health but should take a sensitive approach towards ads like giving them a certification based on their content and allocate suitable time slots for broadcast.”

The people must also be made aware that it is wiser to have kids after 25 years and it is necessary to space them. “It would be much wiser to work upon a policy that restricts each family to produce only two kids,” is what Dr Tempe feels. This is a sure shot way of controlling the burgeoning population of India. “And religion should not play a card in the formulation of such a policy,” she adds. It should apply uniformly to one and all if formulated to have a wide positive effect. Once population is controlled, we all know, it will have a positive dominoes affect on many fields - employment, education, pollution, et al.
Unfortunately in our country, the issue of contraception is male dominated. A woman, in majority of cases, has no say in the matter. “It is the husband and the mother in law who will decide about the kids - how many and how frequently. It is not at the woman’s discretion and she complies meekly,” says Dr Tempe. This is also one of the reasons for the failure of contraception.

She is pretty agitated that none of us gives a thought to the progress of the nation - one of the deciding factors of a developed nation is its population. Sterilisation after producing four or five kids is not effective, because by then the family has already added more than what is needed to the nation’s ever growing population. And with poor families not having the means to educate the kids, the circle of remaining uneducated and ignorant widens. Even if the kids attend school, most drop out after middle school. Little knowledge is a dangerous thing - and this thing is applicable in the cases of these kids with half- baked knowledge. They don’t have the resources, but they want to enjoy life to the fullest. Frustrations build up, leading to crimes that range from rapes, thefts, murders. It is children from such backgrounds that turn vagabonds, and clearly they are not adding to the growth of the nation.

So for development of our nation, contraception is a must. There are many successful and extremely safe methods approved by the government that are available for the benefit of those who want to use them. In a nation, where vasectomy is frowned upon, it is now up to the women to take a step forward and do what is best for them - both in terms of physical well being and mental well being - as also for the nation.