Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ab Montu Bolega; A campaign by Strepsils

What’s new? Montu!

Montu is someone who speaks his heart out, you know as they say ‘Khol Ke Bolo!’ He is someone who cares not only for himself but also for those around him, and so he speaks up for what is right! Is he you? Could be, why not! There is a Montu in all of us. We all, in our little ways, can motivate New India to raise their voices for the good of others and speak fearlessly. 

But Montu, as a face of the youth of India, needed a face. That is where actor Saqib Saleem of “Mere Dad Ki Maruti” and “Hawaa Hawaai” became him, in order to lend his voice to the recently-launched campaign “Ab Montu Bolega”.

The Campaign

As the global leader in consumer health and hygiene, RB (formerly called Reckitt Benckiser), has launched a new campaign on Strepsils “Ab Montu Bolega” – a digital campaign encouraging people to speak their mind with a ‘healthy voice’. Love the connection how Strepsils, the leading sore throat medicine, is encouraging people to speak their mind without any inhibitions.

Bollywood celebrity, Saqib Salim, steps down from his starry pedestal to become just another man-next-door, called Montu, who expresses himself to family, friends and colleagues san any inhibitions. The campaign captures his journey through various interesting situations in his life where Strepsils provides him with a healthy voice and courage to speak up on issues which matter the most to the youth today.

The campaign is digital at heart and resides on an exclusive online platform

The aim of the Campaign

The campaign is essentially a platform to connect, build trust and help create support for citizens to speak up for what they think is right! The entire campaign is designed keeping in mind the few most important pillars of our society like Education, Women Safety/Empowerment, Environment, Infrastructure, Cricket and many more.

So, would you too like to join Montu in his honesty, fearlessness and will to help others?

Visit for more –
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Friday, 17 October 2014

The fault in our laughs, on Karvachauth

Let me begin this post by a status update Sfurti Sinha shared on the morning of the Karvachauth fast. 

Whether I am fasting or not - NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Whether my husband is fasting or not - NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. My life is mine, not yours. You are not in my marriage. Freedom and equality in true sense means choosing whatever I want to do, whatever makes sense to me. There is a fine line between having an opinion and sounding judgemental. Your opinions should be the basis your life, they shouldn't sound like a judgement on others.

On a day when she had much else to take care of, Sfurti was ‘driven’ to vent publicly thus. If I wasn’t around in the same place last year, I would not have understood why. But I was. So in a way, I have been meaning to write this post since a year now. I waited because I wanted to see if rituals other than Karvachauth garnered loud amused laughter too. Not that I noticed any and certainly not equal in magnitude to the humour that surrounds a woman observing a fast for her husband. 

Here is me now, thinking aloud.

Humour is important. We have all read its various forms in different genres of different media. For instance, Theatre has used ‘uncomfortable laughter’ in the audience as a way to hold a mirror to their lives – political, social and even marital. Slapstick comedy shows a man slipping on a banana peel with similar intent; it could be you up there. Scatological references make us laugh because shit and spit is best seen on the other’s person. On television, we see stand-up humour including in its funny tentacles commentary on the government, the news channels and the entertainment industry.

While humour in the various arts was named and came with a larger purpose, the picture in the tweeting-updating social media is often like a mock-epic of what was once classic. ‘Art for art’s sake’ is no crime, but then really, what may be the point? Except wondering at the end of a virally-sharing day - whose line was it anyway?

On Karvachauth day, it doesn’t take much to realize that loose laughter is not just directed at the patriarchal ritual of fasting for a husband. The butts of the jokes become the women following it. Those laughing? The women who do not believe in it, of course. While what’s between the husband and the wife stays where it is supposed to, between them, everything else associated with Karvachauth occupies centre stage and space in the minds of those who have half-baked ideas about the ritual and none whatsoever about the fasting woman’s idea of it.

Thinking …

Is poking fun the best way to ‘guide’ a woman out of a deep-rooted patriarchal discourse? Isn’t it as unfair a ‘peer pressure’ as was given to her by those who made her embrace those traditions in the first place? How does our lackadaisical ‘promotion’ of an antithetical thought-process towards a redundant tradition differ in lack-of-substance from the stoical one of far Right. Are we, in our fun and games, creating but a poorer alternative even if at the other end of the spectrum? It is for this reason that I liked #FastForHer movement. It did nothing to do away with the day. But for now, it got men into the fray. A constructive step towards re-examining the necessity of it all by being a part of it. From inside the circle. A much better, more understanding way, to reverse trends. More sensitive too. 

Because …

We are not providing that line-towing woman sensible alternatives to a symbolism codified over generations, one she has believed in and which provides her with comfort. A kitty of jokes may get us a few giggling followers, but nothing more. The shell we want to break is built on three very thick layers – obedience, belief and comfort. If we are so desperate to break it, we'll need to know more about it.

But, why do we laugh?

Are we, in the larger scheme of things, trying to show her sense or poke fun at what we see as obsoleteness that she surrounds herself with? A bid of one-upmanship and modernity, maybe.  At the same time, furthering lines of difference based on our ideas of modern and ancient, tradition and revolution. Disservice is what we are doing, by making her feel outdated, conscious, stuck and worst of all outcast in lobbies which don’t fast. When the idea of feminism grew this mocking army amidst all the painstakingly-built theories and practice I know not, but I wish we remember what the movement we so glibly use essentially stood for. One word – Choice, as Sfurti’s status above signifies. 

Interestingly …

The tray that a woman carries for her Karvachauth puja holds a few symbols of matrimony. Most of those objects are found in most women’s dressing drawers that you and I anyway may use as a matter of routine, or during festive times. The difference is, she wants to spend a day with them while you may freely reserve the biggest bindis for your designer saris or Durga Puja times. (Yes, you may include that idea of a parlour visit in this, which for so many is one of the greatest social outlets in a year). To not eat is not so much of a suffering as it is made out to be, that too by those who are eating their three meals anyway. Concern doesn’t mock. It helps. But first, it has to try to understand what is wrong to understand the ‘victim’ of it all.

Did you who jest know … 

We don’t have to dress up as brides on Karvachauth. We don’t need to use sieves to look at the moon. Henna is not compulsory and neither is touching the husband's feet. I blame popular media for propagating limited understanding of this tradition. Which does mean, more groundwork needs to be done before the laughing party decides to become a mouthpiece carrying the cause of fasting women on its shoulders.

Manjulika did this for her mother-in-law.
Tanya created 'American Karvas'.

I think … 

Humour cannot alone help cut through years of nurture. Not even shake the idea of obedience to elders and fear of Gods; especially for rituals created around husbands’ well-being, because they are based on a relationship. It also will never stand ground against the idea of Choice, which women like me make when we decide to fast or not fast. If we are to liberate minds, we need to show them how our freedoms are worthy of emulation. In all the mindless cackling, the voices of sanity who seek to deliver women from coerced and oppressive rituals get drowned and lost. 

We need to question traditions to see how they affect gender narratives and we need to reinvent some of them to better suit the changing times, or do away with those which we no longer agree with. How we do it is the point, and the key to it is in each one of our hands or in our homes.  Read these lines shared by Hrishikesh Bawa:

Fasting does not lead to anything … Love and respect for each other is more important," said a woman’s mother-in-law to herI think a hero is not just the guerilla rebel. Sometimes, she is the one who is a part of the system too. Likewise, the one who impulsively jumps out of the ancient window might just have been a hasty fool.

This was probably my last year of observing this fast. My husband’s tank of patience with it is full. I no longer have to give company to my mother-in-law – in deed or in spirit – by not eating with her and enjoying the evening katha too. Next time, I will probably go to the other side of the fence, well aware of what made me follow the Karvachauth ritual and promising myself not to forget it. Perhaps, that will help me remain sensitive towards those who wish to do as they please.

Because you know as well as I do how private choices get played with on public trampolines all in the name of jest.

[Written for WordPress Daily Prompts : 365 Writing Prompts. The prompt for today was - Community Service - Your entire community — however you define that; your hometown, your neighborhood, your family, your colleagues — is guaranteed to read your blog tomorrow. Write the post you’d like them all to see.]

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

‘Cheer a Child’ the Réal way, this Diwali

There is good news to share this festive season!

Réal, India’s most preferred packaged fruit juice brand today, joined hands with Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre Society to launch a mega social initiative – Cheer a Child

This Diwali, ‘Cheer a Child’ campaign seeks to spread health and happiness amongst children of  the underprivileged sections of society. This initiative helps forward Dabur India Ltd’s mission to touch the lives of thousands of children across India.

What is ‘Cheer a Child’?

A signature campaign across major cities in North and West India, covering Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Maharashtra will be launched today by Réal and Prayas Juvenile Aid Centre Society. Big markets across these states will be visited by a team from Real who then will channel support for neglected children, those in exploitative jobs and even children living on the streets.

The signatories will be educated and made aware about the nutrition needs of underprivileged children and asked to become a part of this campaign. Here comes the important bit. Against each signature, Dabur has committed to give one pack of Réal fruit beverage to a child in need! 

Do know, that “this initiative is no way linked to any product purchase. All they need from the people is a signature or a wish as a mark of their support,” said Dabur India Ltd Marketing Head-Foods Mr. Sanjay Singal.

There’s more …

Consumers across major cities in India get a chance to bring festive cheer in the lives of under-privileged kids. “All one has do is to give a missed call on 07053123123. By placing this missed call, consumers will be confirming their participation for this movement. An automated call back would request the consumer to record their festive wish for these underprivileged Children. For every wish recorded also, Dabur has committed to give one pack of Réal fruit beverage to a child in need. The consumers will also get a chance to bring happiness on the faces of these underprivileged kids by spending a day of fun and frolic with them by logging in to,” said Mr. Singal.

Pledges from people will be collected through Social Media such as Facebook and Twitter, where the campaign will be amply promoted. 

Dabur has also announced the launch of Réal Greetings, an exclusive range of special Diwali gift packs of Réal fruit beverages. These special packs have been designed to communicate the goodness of fruits and the concept of ‘Wishes of Good Health’ that Diwali symbolizes. “Traditionally, in the Indian culture, fruits have been considered as auspicious and are an integral part of all festivities and celebrations. This stems from the fact that fruits are considered a form of life and a sign of vitality. Réal Greetings Gift Packs encapsulates this idea,” Mr. Singal said.

Meanwhile …

Prayas JAC Society and its more than 50,000 children across nine states/UTs of India are glad to be a part of this ‘Cheer a Child’ Campaign! 

Mr. Amod K Kanth, General Secretary of Prayas and former Chairman of Delhi Commission for Protection of Child Rights, said: “I strongly believe that this initiative of Dabur India Limited is certainly going to touch millions of underprivileged children across India in touching their dreams and aspirations.” 

Prayas was set-up in 1988 as a joint initiative of Delhi Police, Delhi School of Social Work and Shramik Vidyapeeth in response to the crisis-affected children in the slums of Jahangirpuri, Delhi started with 25 children and, today, it caters more than 50,000 children, youth & women. For the past 25 years, Prayas has been and continues to be involved in meaningful, development-driven initiatives that distinctly impact the quality of life of the weaker-sections of the society

Join the endeavour and ‘Cheer a Child’ the Réal way this Diwali. 

Like the Facebook page here 

Follow all the action here

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