note demonetisation

TimesNow’s Remonetise India campaign is as ill-conceived as demonetisation itself

The channel is asking viewers to give their domestic workers a day off to open bank accounts. Instead, it should urge them to pay fair wages.

The prime minister has told us that any suffering caused by demonetisation – the sudden withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes on November 8 – was suffering for the national good. He also said that economists – the vast majority of whom have said demonetisation would not do what the government expected it to do: eradicate black money – simply did not understand how demonetisation worked.

Now, TV channel TimesNow, in support of the prime minister’s cause, has taken this spin to a new level. Last month, the channel launched an initiative – Remonetise India – to help direct the gains of demonetisation.

Participants at the launch of this campaign in Delhi on January 5 included Union minister Piyush Goyal and the owner of PayTM Vijay Shekhar Sharma. Ten days later, the channel broadcast a two-hour long programme on the campaign whose participants included Union ministers Ravi Shankar Prasad and Nirmala Sitharaman, Niti Aayog Chief Executive Officer Amitabh Kant and Infosys founder Narayana Murthy, among others.

Those participating in the campaign take a pledge to “rise and protect the world’s fastest growing economy. To stop doubting and start acting. To spend now to revive demand, and India’s markets. To help workers keep their jobs, farmers sell their produce. To teach and bring those around us into digitization. To help fellow citizens participate in our new economy. To use less cash…”

‘Help your help’

TimesNow has not reported on the impact of its campaign so far, but recently offered its audience the chance to contribute towards remonetising the nation themselves. According to the channel, all people need to do is to give their house help one day off. That’s right, one day off.

The channel is running an advertisement that has a little girl asking her mother why she has given their maid, Shanta didi, a day off. The mother explains that she wanted didi to open a bank account because “it is very important”. Shanta didi opens her bank account, returns to work, and declares “ab life ban gayi easy [Now life has become easy].” The advertisement ends with the slogan: “Help your help, so no Indian gets left behind when the nation moves ahead.”

All but the entirely deluded will be left asking: how?

Play

But this is not about Shanta didi and how having a bank account will impact her life. It’s about her smiling employer doing her bit for the nation by making the supreme sacrifice of functioning without her domestic worker for a day.

In an email sent out on Wednesday in which the launch of the second phase of the Remonetise India campaign was announced, a public relations executive for the channel laid out the thinking behind TimesNow’s Help your Help advertisement thus:

“Deriving from the insight that there’s a common understanding that the little things we do for our help, maids, drivers, watchmen etc. are enough to keep them happy & content. Just providing them with clothes, food or anything else gives us a feeling of pride, satisfaction and assurance of contributing to the society. However, what we fail to realize is that we need to make them self-reliant and include them into the progress path.”

If indeed people feel “pride, satisfaction and assurance of contributing to society” by “giving food and clothes or anything else to people who work for them”, then we may have an explanation for why India’s rich live so comfortably with the massive social and economic disparities that scar our nation.

It would mean that they, or at least the people who watch TimesNow, don’t have a problem with vast unbridgeable disparities because they believe the poor are “happy and content” with their occasional charity.

TimesNow’s campaign is totally in tune with the “common understanding” that drives this view. The child’s tone in the advertisement, which should make all right-thinking parents cringe, suggests that giving the domestic worker a day off is not the usual practice. Her mother’s explanation that she has given the worker a day off because “it is important” only re-emphasises this perception.

There is, of course, no mention of that dirty word “money”, as in money in the bank. There’s no awkward moment when the cute kid says: “Mom, how much money will Shanta didi get to put in her new bank account?”

Fair wages

Self-reliance, paths to progress and not getting left behind when the nation moves ahead do not depend on the existence of bank accounts. They depend on fair wages and decent working conditions. People who receive a fair wage usually find a way to open a bank account. They also usually have time off work to do so – one day a week and at least two weeks a year. This is the law of the land.

Domestic workers are among the most exploited and vulnerable workers in our country. However, no government, either central or state, knows how many people are employed full-time or part-time in people’s homes, what wages they receive or what conditions they work under. In response to questions in Parliament, the central government has quoted survey figures for domestic workers (see here and here) that vary by lakhs.

Domestic workers, a large number of whom are women and girls, are subject to the caprice of their employers and have little protection from any law since the homes in which they work are private and not subject to the kinds of inspections that shops and establishments face under the provisions of the Shops and Establishments Act. This Act regulates the wages, hours of work, leave and other work conditions of those employed in commercial establishments. Even in states where domestic work has been brought under the purview of some laws such as minimum wage legislation (Rajasthan) or manual work laws (Tamil Nadu) it is impossible to enforce the law, for just these reasons.

The Union government has failed to sign the International Labour Organisation convention on decent work for domestic workers because its India’s laws are not in conformity with its provisions. The government is, however, in the process of drafting a “National Policy on Domestic Workers”. The glacial progress on that front indicates that the issue is not a priority for the government.

If it was a priority, the government would have started a campaign to explain to the child and her mother in the “Help your Help” advertisement that Shanta didi was entitled to her days off and to a fair wage.

It could have got TimesNow to campaign on its behalf and have its audience pledge: “To rise and protect the world’s fastest growing economy by not exploiting those who work for us, and by paying them a fair wage. To help our employees earn enough to spend in order to help revive demand. To help our fellow citizens participate in our new fairer economy.”

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

We asked them and here's the verdict: Scotch is one of the #GiftsMenLove

A handy guide to buying a gift for a guy.

Valentine’s day is around the corner so men and women everywhere are racking their brains for the perfect present. Buying a gift for men though can be a stressful experience. Be it a birthday, celebration or personal milestone, many men and women find it difficult to figure out what their male friends or significant others want. That’s why TVF decided to perform a public service and ask the guys directly what they loved. So, the next time you’re running around to buy a gift for a man, just pick something from the list below and thank us later.

Watches: A watch can complete a man’s ensemble and quickly become a talking (or bragging) point at a party. If your man loves classics, a vintage HMT (if you can find one) with a metal strap should be your brand of choice. For fun-loving guys, try a Swatch watch with a pop-coloured leather strap or even a watch with Swarovski crystal studded dials from a variety of watchmakers. Fossil’s unconventional dials will delight a creative or artistic soul. Alternatively, the G-shock collection by Casio is reasonably priced, waterproof and perfect for those who love adventure sports. If your man is a fitness enthusiast, surprise him with an excellent fitness band from GoQii.

Image Credits: Pexels
Image Credits: Pexels

Whisky: A well stocked bar is every man’s pride and joy. Whisky, especially scotch is an extremely popular gift with men. It is a gift that can be displayed with pride and shared on occasions with friends and family. Scotch is any whisky (single malt or blended) that comes from Scotland, is usually aged for at least three years (often more) and distilled twice. Each region in Scotland produces whisky with a distinct flavor. Spirits from Islay, like Laphroaig, tend to have a strong peat flavor while single malts from Speyside tend to be lighter and sweeter. Connoisseurs will sing praises of the golden colour of blends like Johnny Walker or Black and White, and the smoky taste of Scotch whiskies like Black Dog. If your partner is truly mad about malts, go the whole hog and surprise him with a malt tour in Scotland - the ultimate whisky experience.

Image Credit: Pexels
Image Credit: Pexels

Jackets: For a more personal touch, a jacket can be quite an apt gift. A romantic-at-heart will love a traditional bandhgala while bike enthusiasts swear by their weather-worn leather jackets. Blazers are great day-to-night apparel, looking perfectly at home in the office or in a bar. You’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to brands and designers: high street labels like Blackberry’s and Zara offer trendy outerwear at affordable prices. Custom made jackets like the ones from Raymond’s Made-To-Measure collection or the Bombay Shirt Company are also a great option, if you really want to get creative with the design.

Sunglasses: If your friend is a globetrotter, a smart pair of shades will delight him like nothing else. Whether he is sunbathing in the Maldives, chasing zebras in Tanzania or skiing in Courchevel, this travel accessory adds an instant glam quotient to almost every type of holiday. Recent sunglass trends have been a major throwback to retro shapes inspired from Hollywood films like Tom Cruise’s aviators from Top Gun, Steve McQueen’s Persols from The Thomas Crown Affair or the wayfarers sported by the lead actors in The Blues Brothers. You’ll find many variations at high street brands like H&M and Diesel but if you can stretch the budget, pick up a good quality pair from Burberry or Louis Vuitton. Better yet, buy a unisex design that you can borrow when your heart desires!

Image Credits: Pexels
Image Credits: Pexels

Headphones: Most guys love their music, whether their choice of genre is soft rock, hard metal or folk fusion. So, it makes sense that headphones are on the list of the most popular gifts loved by men. Make sure you know what you’re looking for when it comes to buying headphones. For style combined with comfort, Skull Candy headphones come in a fun palette of colours. For amazing sound quality and pumping bass, you can opt for Shure or Sennheiser; they may look basic but deliver on their audio capabilities. Audio-Technica headphones are also gaining a cult following among audiophiles for their excellent sound clarity. If your man listens to music while working out, get the Jabra Sports in-ear headphones which are made for the gym. Though it feels pragmatic, this gift will be treasured by all music lovers.

So, take a pick from this list and the guy you gift will be indebted to you for life! For more great gifting ideas, see here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of LiveInStyle and not by the Scroll editorial team.