Rahul Gupta
Are Beggars and Child labour UPA’s idea of Bharat Nirman?
This article originally appeared in CRI content has now been subsumed in The views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect those of the editors of

The media blitzkrieg of the UPA government is cited by many as a desperate attempt on its part to wriggle out of a maze of scams it has surrounded itself in. One may be watching about yet another scam on a news channel and just seconds later see the Bharat Nirman ad campaign – did the government’s media managers really think that it is supposed to make us feel great. If so, there is need for some urgent changes in that department. And wait, there is more – it gets worse.

The following ad, branded as the milestone film, shows people talking about the achievements ranging from over a decade ago, and in some cases several decades ago. Amidst all this banter a careful observer would notice the shameful realities on display at the sidelines. The ad shows a child -selling tea to the people in a train compartment. It has been cleverly masked so that many don’t see it at first glance.

Is this UPA’s idea of Bharat Nirman? In many ways it symbolizes what the governance has been like – All talk, while stark realities remain unchanged. Should one expect a government who officially considers child labour as unlawful to celebrate the same in a multi-crore tax payer funded ad campaign, or should one consider the government’s message to be that child labour has been one of their several achievements?

Watch this video of YouTube.

And just when I felt like saying I have had enough – a friend pointed out to me that child labour is not all. You see the ad showing a beggar with a harmonium as well. Shouldn’t the government be showing ads where people take action on such failures of the society? I would have loved to see my money being spent on an ad which encourages people to talk to a child or a beggar and see what he can do to help out. Maybe, at the very least, call a government helpline. Instead, it is a shameless display of things that are wrong in the country – with people sitting and talking about cricket and how great the government is.

I am pretty sure if asked this question, the government’s line of defence will be that they are just showing the reality – Sorry, but the last time I checked they are the very people given the reigns of this country to change things that are wrong with reality. We don’t need a display of reality at a cost of 180 crores – I and every other Indian can just take a walk and see it LIVE. But what a shame – in spite of being in power for easily over half a century, the sad realities remain. The best, one of their own – Sheila Dixit, can do is to remove all the beggars from Delhi, or at least try to, during the Commonwealth games so that the foreigners don’t see them.

Side-lines apart, even the central theme of the ad is one which talks about things that happened as far back as 1963 – do they really think people in India are foolish enough to be swayed 50 years later by it – they forget that the leaders who were on offer 50 years ago are no longer around. They try to slip in a word about NREGA, trying not to draw too much attention to it, as they know it is riddled with corruption.

They try to take credit for the RTI act, the same one they have tried to weaken – the act in the first place was brought about after a decade long struggle by people like Aruna Roy and Arvind Kejriwal. They claim that bank nationalization saved India from the credit crisis – as if the HDFCs and ICICIs, which are not government owned, were mute spectators.

What both the UPA government fails to realize is that why ad campaigns such as these don’t succeed. People don’t like seeing their money being spent on it – period. If it was some unknown fact that the government is bringing to light through an ad, I think people would be more receptive. Instead of amending mistakes, the government keeps continuing to make bigger ones.