The federal government of India has directed TV channels not to screen an ad from a life insurance firm calling girl children a burden.
The Information and Broadcasting Ministry has asked the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) to ask all TV channels to stop airing the advertisement immediately. "We have also asked the ASCI to take action against the advertising company for making such an advertisement," a senior ministry official said.
Life insurance firm ING Vysya is behind the controversial advertisement, which has the following tagline for the girl child: "hai to pyaari lekin bojh hai bhari (though loving, she is still a burden). An insurance cover for the girl child, it says, would lighten the burden. The ad has been on air for the past few months.
The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), which received several representations against the advertisement, has sought an immediate ban on the ad. "The advertisement is totally unethical. Television channels have failed in their duty to censor content before airing it," said its chairperson Shantha Sinha.
The Delhi government and several states have gone to the extent of saying the advertisement can promote female foeticide. Internet bloggers call the ad evidence of the typical "Indian bias" against the girl child. "I could not have imagined that a company of international repute could air such views about the girl child," said a blogger on Youtube, reports the Hindustan Times.
Taking cognizance of such complaints, the inter-ministerial committee of the I&B ministry has come up with its new directive.
The committee monitors content on television and takes action against channels showing programmes in violation of the programme and advertising code notified under the Cable Network (Regulation) Act, 2008.
Apart from the callousness or insensitivity of the TV channels, seen in their mindless pursuit of money, the question remains how come the ad had been allowed to remain on the airwaves for months now.