Thursday, June 26, 2008

Black or White...a P.S.

I wrote the following lines as a reply to a friend's comment on my previous post but by the end of it I realized my reply was almost as long as a post, so I decided to post it here...

Companies that manufacture/market fairness creams are obviously very smart. They play on the psyche & the insecurities of Indians.

When there was too much furore over fairness cream ads...over how they portrayed only fair women getting good matrimonial matches, the companies switched tactics & started portraying fairness creams as an aid to career enhancement and/or improving one's prospects in life...girl wants to become a cricket commentator but can't because she's dark (and therefore underconfident + no one would like to watch her on tv), so she uses fairness creams & becomes a successful cricket commentator...or girl goes for a job interview but is rejected because she's dark, comes back after having used fairness creams & gets lapped up by the interviewers!!

These ads are ridiculous but there are enough suckers for them in our country - a fact that's justified by the size of the market for fairness creams!!

If there's a ban on ads for cigarettes, I think ads for fairness creams should definitely be banned. Cigarettes harm people at an individual level, fairness creams are destroying the collective psyche of an entire nation!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Black or white?

I always knew fairness creams have a huge market in India but when you attach number to hypotheses, it can give you a completely different perspective on things.

According to retail audits conducted by one of the largest market research agencies in the world, the market for skin care products in India (such as fairness creams, anti-septic creams, cold creams, moisturizers, cleansing milk etc.) is above Rs 1350 crores, out of which the share of fairness creams is approximately Rs 700 crores!!!

If this doesn’t show how obsessed we are with fair skin, as a nation, I don’t know what would!

This is the quintessential ‘colonial hangover’. Guess the British have left an indelible scar on the psyche of Indians. But more than the British I would blame us. India is growing by leaps & bounds, Indians today are highly educated and have traveled the world. We’ve been exposed to people of different skin colors, cultural backgrounds, languages etc. Yet we have not been able to break free of the notion that light skin is superior to darker skin.

Sadly, I don’t know if we ever will be able to. What I do know is that it has only re-affirmed my belief that Indians, as a people, are one of the most racist people in the world.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Affirmative Action, Anyone?

The Gujjars have compelled the Rajasthan government to give them 5% reservation in all government jobs, educational institutions etc., taking the total amount of reservation in Rajasthan to an astonishing 68%.

Welcome to the progressive, resurgent India.

The India that’s held to ransom by various ethnic & religious minorities & fundamentalists that believe violence & destruction of public property are the fastest & sure-shot way to getting what they want.

And why not? It has worked for them in the past & continues to do so even now.

So while the educated lot toils hard in private enterprises trying to pull the country forward, the pro-reservation junta drags it ten steps behind.

Has any country that does not believe in meritocracy been able to flourish? Is it fair for those who genuinely do well in their academics & work hard at their jobs that they have to pay the price for belonging to the “non-marginalized” section of society?

My point is – there has to be some good coming out of every step that the government takes. Reservation might give the beneficiaries access to education & jobs, but look at the state of government-run enterprises today! They’re languishing. Government employees are apathetic & indifferent to the needs of the citizens that they are meant to serve. They couldn’t care less about their job responsibilities.

Strangely, the government that’s willing to give every “Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribe” their place under the sun refuses to give women a 33% reservation in the Parliament. Why so? Because women haven’t gone on a rampage yet? They haven’t broken glass panes & set fire to buses? They haven’t marched up to the capital & laid siege on the city? Is that what’s required to get one’s voice heard in this country? If it is, then it’s a SAD state we’re in. We shouldn’t be talking about inching forward as a nation, when we are so earnestly leaping backwards.