You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

“Advertisements are a society in microcosm”, it is often said, mostly be me.

It is either plain bad luck or an involuntary reaction against the gaining of knowledge that, despite it always having turned out to be an educational experience, I have not indulged in watching TV often enough.

My recent experience of watching the Hindi movie “PK” on TV was no different. Lady luck also seemed to be smiling on me that night. The movie was frequently interrupted by commercial breaks.

They were eye-opening.

Efforts made by our leaders with their frequent lip-service and seat-of-the-pant implementations for upliftment of women in society, through initiatives like for-women-only pink autos driven by males and rented mostly by male passengers, a still-to-be-launched-as-it-might-not-make-sense women-only bank run by males and efforts at the integration of the two genders such as a coach exclusively for women in the Delhi metro train, are bearing fruit. And how.

In the first commercial break, we came across a lady who has to feed a husband who multi-tasks. And, if that was not enough to handle, she even has to feed her son who also multi-tasks. It may be difficult for youngsters to imagine, but, being the age I am, I can tell you that the housewife of an earlier generation would have struggled.

But not the housewife of today. Faced with the situation, what does she do? In order to feed her multi-tasking husband and multi-tasking son, the woman of the house feeds them chapatis made of multi-grain atta.

Thankfully she is a single-tasker, focussed on the task of making sure her multi-tasking husband and son get adequate nutrition to go about their multi-tasking ways. And she is dressed smart. In a salwar and kurta. Not in a scruffy sari as the struggling housewife of yore would have been.

Barely had we got the chance to digest the monumental change this represented, the second commercial break came on. And brought with it a big car with 4-wheel drive. Of an American brand. With a man at the wheel and a woman in the seat next to the driver’s. Driving to a magical destination with lots of hot-air balloons going up in the air, chosen by the man, it seems. The man, as usual, in full control of the situation, as his smile indicated. As soon as he turns the power-steering with all his might by lunging left, the woman covers her face in wonder and amazement at the sight. And this woman is smartly dressed in western attire. And, what’s more, she seems willing to undertake the hot-air balloon ride. Tell me honestly how many of us can visualise a woman, say thirty years back, in a commercial, willing to go for a hot-air balloon ride.

When children come home dirty after being children, she cleans their clothes.

“So, what’s new?”, you might be tempted to ask.

Gone are the days when you would see a mother handwashing clothes, wiping sweat from her brow,  and advertising for bars of soap which clothes had to be scrubbed clean with. Today, nothing less than a washing machine will do. And they are not stopping there. Some mothers in commercials even have a choice of electric dryers instead of hanging the washed clothes out to dry on a line. Even brands of detergent are par for the course for these mothers of today. No mother ever advertised either a washing machine or dryer or detergent before these devices were invented.

Women are no longer confined to the house. They are mostly engaged in staring enviously at other women whose clothes are whiter than theirs. When pushed to the wall, they even engage in streetside speed-washing contests. Can we ever inmagine a woman of an earlier generation doing a street-side washing test to prove her soap or detergent is better?

When children come home hungry after being children they feed them. With healthy choices like instant noodles and frozen fries. Can you imagine a mother in the seventies doing that?

The time for reaping the dividend from this change has also arrived. In an FM commercial the same day, I heard two children talking animatedly as they came back home hungry.

Does your mother allow you to eat French Fries?

Of course. In fact, the frozen fries my mom uses have 50% less calories.

But I am so hungry. I cannot wait for the fries to be made.

Don’t worry. These fries take 70% less time to cook.

Wow! Such knowledgeable 8-year olds could only be the progeny of the modern, empowered woman.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, it used to be said. Husbands and fathers are rarely to be seen in these commercials, except occasionally replacing children as the cared-for subjects.

It has seeped into the consciousness of society. This change is irreversible. So engrossed was I in the commercials and their messages, I forgot that they were the side story. Each time the movie came back, I would wait eagerly to the next break for more educational commercials.

The times, they a changing, as the latest Nobel prize winner for literature once said.

Face to Face

ECS (name changed), one of India’s largest IT companies, probably the largest, engineered a coup of sorts a few years back when they setup a female-only BPO unit in a country in the Middle East, well known for its treatment of women.

They engineered another coup when they got the Indian PM, during his recent visit to the country, to visit this Centre.

As we all know, conditions and regulations in a host country need to be respected. Even if you are the PM of a big nation. The Indian PM, full marks to him, has never been known to be non-accommodating, especially where uninterrupted oil supplies are at stake.

Though it was a secretive visit, with no coverage in the media, for obvious reasons, some photos of the PM’s visit to the centre seem to be emerging.  We bring these images to the readers of darkofficehumour for their reading and watching pleasure.

Remember, you saw them here first.

The PM walking in with the CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons, the majority owner of ECS

The PM walking in with the CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons (name changed), the holding company of ECS

PM having High Tea with staff, alongwith serious discussions

PM having High Tea with staff, alongwith serious discussions

A worried CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons wondering how to locate the PM in the crowd

A worried CEO of ECS and Chairman of Mata Sons wondering how to locate the PM in the crowd

The PM in the crowd

The PM somewhere in the crowd

 

Moment of alarm as an unidentifiable object sighted in the background; subsequent investigations revealing it to be a male of the species

Moment of alarm as an unidentifiable object sighted in the background; subsequent investigations revealing it to be a male of the species

 

Management team of the Centre standing separate from the staff, like in any self-respecting organisation

Management team of the Centre standing separate from the staff, like in any self-respecting organization. These people are quick learners!

Posing with the PM. Looks like an amateur photographer!

Posing with the PM at the end of the visit. Looks like an amateur photographer!

 

These images underscore the importance of this visit. From the expressions on the faces of the participants it is clear that historical changes are afoot.

Remember, you saw it here first!

Defamation

We can hold our heads high.

Our leaders are leaving no stone unturned to protect us. British film-maker Leslee Udwin’s documentary “India’s daughter” has been banned. It has been banned because it defames the country.

By the way, we know that the country’s defamation can only happen when a foreigner is involved, like in this case. An Indian can, at best, cause regional defamation, state-level defamation or religious defamation. But defaming the whole country? No, an Indian can never hope to rise to the level of causing national defamation.

And why should it (the documentary) not be (banned)? After all, it seeks to unearth the truth. And ask searching questions about male attitudes towards women. It deserves to be banned.

Of course, it is quite possible that in the process of interviewing the accused, laws may have been broken, which the Home Minister has been at pains to point out. And that needs to be addressed, as the common man is extremely upset about that, which is evident from the fact that amongst the milling crowds at bus-stops, the people at corner shops, the panellists on TV shows, the headlines in newspapers, nobody is talking about it. The Home Minister has rightly addressed this aspect to allay the fears of the common man.

The documentary, among other things, portrays the accused in the infamous Delhi rape case of December 2012 as blaming the victim for the rape. It is a clear case of a sick mind. We need to shelter the public from such honest confessions, especially the adult male population, who currently don’t, but will start thinking like the accused if exposed to his views. Who knows what further atrocities women will be subject to as a result, that would not take place if the adult male population were not to be exposed to these views.

If that is not enough, we are bound to reverse the gains that have been made in uplifting the stock of women in the country through the introduction of pink taxis and a women-only bank run by men.

Whoever has heard of a debate on an issue of importance doing any good in our society? Whoever has heard of presentation of a true picture ever leading to a catharis in our society? Whoever has heard of debate and counter-argument leading to society gaining a clearer understanding about itself?

There is no need to waste time on such trifles. In any case, since we know that ours is a rich culture, there is no need for a debate, or presentation of a true picture of what people really think, especially men about women. We know. We know all men are chaste and pure and only possess clean and noble thoughts for women. It is only the people who are caught after acts of crime against women who possess a sick mind. Everyone else is clean.

And we know that men have the right to decide. On what women should do. What they should wear. Where they should go. Who they should meet.

Now that the issue of defamation of the nation from presentation of a true picture has come to light, requiring political leaders to act, we should be happy our leaders do not undertake half-measures. When they address an issue, they address it whole-heartedly. Defamation might never be able to raise its ugly head.

In order to shield the country from defamation brought on by poor performance in a future game, political leaders have prevailed upon the Board of Control for Cricket in India to use its clout in world cricket to treat all games, where the Indian team loses, as not having ever been played, with retrospective effect. Any media house found covering the same will be acted against. This will also prevent any other country defeating India from inviting criminal charges from the Indian government for defamation of the nation.

Every person who does not wear foreign clothes or, at the very least, does not talk in a western language, will be removed to an area specially reserved for such misfits. After all, if an overseas visitor were to interact with such a person and see reality, would it not create a poor impression of our great civilisation that is tantamount to defamation? We cannot leave such things to chance.

If at any point of time economic measures reveal a less-than-rosy picture, the slump in growth is to be addressed by changing the formula to measure growth rather than risk defamation.

Many other measures have been prescribed. But nothing is foolproof. To cover that eventuality, legislation has been enacted requiring citizens, in the manner of Mahatma Gandhi’s three monkeys, to “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil”. In simple terms, bury your head in the sand and pretend all is well.

In the interest of transparency and openness and in order to protect against defamation, all divergent views, particularly ones that call upon men to introspect about their attitude towards women, need to be clamped down upon.