The Delhi Sarkar ad that has been airing on television for the past week has been much discussed by political parties, activists and social media commentators.
The 2-minute ad portrays the overburdened lady of the house desperately trying to make ends meet, taking care of all the household chores, including dropping her son to school, buying vegetables, keeping track of electricity expenditure and cooking. Not to mention, praying for the well-being of her family’s saviour. All this while her husband sits watching television, while drinking tea and being served his food.
There were two primary messages conveyed by the ad to my fourteen-year old son – women do all the housework in India and the Aam Aadmi Party has made things cheaper for people to live.
My house helper, looking at the ad on television, said she was surprised to see me watching a TV drama serial, something she has never seen me do. It was then that I realised how, despite the sexist perceptions, many television watchers, especially similarly overburdened women who end up doing much of the household work, would empathise with the lady protagonist in the ad.
For me, the one message that clearly came through was “eliminate corruption”. This was the first time I was seeing a government telling people in a direct way, “don’t take bribe, don’t give bribe”.
This reinforcement of trying to be corruption-free should give common citizens the confidence to face situations they often find themselves in. However, from recent experiences, I get the feeling that there is something ingrained in our Indian DNA that would need a mutation to bring about change.
Even after the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement and the exposure to umpteen scams and conflict of interest exposes, and despite there being enough guidance (both online and physical) from people who are willing to help one do things the right way, many people are still totally uninterested in even making an attempt to bypass corruption. It is as if it is an accepted way of life.
These e-mail snippets (marginally modified to maintain privacy of the writers) I captured in various contexts speak for themselves…
I contacted the clerk at the BBMP office to apply for the change of name in my property tax receipt. You have to go with the original sales deed and a copy, latest tax paid receipts etc., As usual they will try to make it a very complex process by asking you to provide a lot of documents, such as notary attestation of the same deed, etc., However, you can negotiate a service charge (I paid Rs.4,000) and got my name changed in about 4 working days. (Actual cost: Rs 0)
For electricity meter transfer you can get in touch with xxx, who is a BESCOM electrician working in the local BESCOM office. He got this done for me and in fact he is the one who was has helped to get it done for our whole apartment. He’ll charge about Rs 1200-1400 (includes everything) and will get the name change done in about a month. He will arrange for all the documents incl. forms, indemnity, notary, etc. (Actual cost: about Rs 500)
The builder has agreed to undertake the processing of Khata for our flats. Said that it would be up to the owners to pursue it on their own or go with them with a service charge of Rs.8000/-. We have requested them to make it Rs.6000/-. This will be in addition to what would be payable to BBMP as betterment charges and Khata registration fees. The builder is yet to revert on acceptance of our proposal of service charges. (Actual cost: Rs 0)
The Delhi Sarkar ad is being aired so many times that it would be hard for any of these people to miss. It is though, clear that these people think it is foolish to waste time to do things the so-called right way, when a little money can make life so easy. And so what if there are others free-riding on them. As long as their job is done, they couldn’t care less.
While trying to change the DNA, the system needs to change too. What will it take to effect this change? Surely more than television ads. I wonder what!