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The Information and broadcasting ministry issued an advisory on
Monday, December 11 which directs television channels to restrict the broadcast
of condom ads between 10 pm and 6 am. This has been done to safeguard children
from the sensuous content being shown in such ads. On its face, it seems like a
reasonable proposition but it may not be good for a country on its way to win
the population race.

 

Sexual
education has always been frowned upon in India. Indian culture has treated sex
as a taboo. This medieval practice is a regular feature of our society. The
I&B ministry has cited the Cable Network Rules of 1994 that bars
advertisements that “create in them children any interest in unhealthy
practices”. Children today engage in a variety of content across television and
internet and the government believes it to be its duty to protect the children
from “indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes or treatment”
in such ads.

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This presents
before us the archaic mindset of our lawmakers. It is against the development
goals of the government. This ban also undermines the intelligence of TV
viewers and reduces us to baboons. On one hand, the government aims to promote
sexual health among adolescents and youth and on the other it undermines them.
The ban can also be called arbitrary and will not stand the test of judicial
scrutiny. The social costs of this ban are also huge. A major portion of Indian
population still resides in villages where the lack of information on sexual
health and condoms has led to the breakout of the population. This ban is
counterproductive as it will curb the spread of information related to condoms
and will lead to worsening of the issue of sexual health in India.

 

The costs of
such a ban outweigh its benefits. The I&B Ministry and the Advertising
Standards Council are overlooking the real issue, which is to review the
content of specific advertisements in terms of standards of decency. The
government should work on putting out adequate information without compromising
on decency.

 

 

 

 

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