India Insight

India’s political advertising goofs: sometimes they’re just mistakes

Whenever anything happens in India, anything at all, you will find someone on Twitter muttering with suspicion about how it was a political conspiracy. What for? Votes, power, money, the usual. Nobody seems to be able to accept the idea that people sometimes just goof up, that cluelessness trumps deceit and a desire to irk other people.

It’s not like there is no evidence for this simple, if inelegant explanation. Look at the cabinet reshuffle this past October, when Minister of State Lalchand Kataria’s induction in the defence ministry was put on hold after confusion over names in the final list.

Personally, I love then-Foreign Minister SM Krishna’s goof-up at the United Nations Security Council when he accidentally read the Portuguese foreign minister’s speech.

And look at these advertisements…

The Bharatiya Janata Party came down hard on the Gujarat Congress Party on Monday after Congress ran an election campaign ad on malnutrition. It included a picture of a child who apparently was a victim of floods in Sri Lanka. Congress said that the BJP should concentrate on the issue, not the picture, while the ruling party called Congress “desperate”. That would work, but only if whoever prepared the ad knew that the kid was from Sri Lanka, and decided to dupe people. More often than not, people think that representative images are good enough to get the point across, and then don’t understand why they aren’t.  That’s not desperate; it’s just clueless.

Here is some Twitter reaction:

@sunandavashisht - Shameless Congress-Malnutrition child of Srilankan floods shown as Gujarati child in ad campaign against BJP#shamecongress

Trick or Tweet? Can politicians have an online life?

I recently came across this article on the Washington Post.

GERMANY BOOK FAIRBeing a part of a generation that gradually, if with cautious unease, learnt to adjust to the Internet, I could not help but compare India’s policymakers with those of developed nations based on their level of acceptance of changing media.

Frankly, it is difficult to imagine our lawmakers in the same position as described in the article.

For years, when social networking meant visiting friends and family at Christmas and New Year, and Facebook was still a concept, representatives of our democracy would depend on traditional ways to reach out to their electorate.

Is the media going overboard in its coverage of the Ambani feud?

The war of words between the billionaire Ambani brothers took an unexpected turn when younger sibling Anil offered an olive branch to elder brother Mukesh in a bid to resolve a feud over the split of the Reliance business empire in 2005.

The widespread coverage the Indian media has given to the squabble between the brothers has led to a debate on social networking sites such as Twitter, with some accusing news organisations of playing host to a reality show or soap opera that stars the Ambani family to boost ratings.

Prominent columnist Vir Sanghvi wrote through his Twitter account virsanghvi: “Do you think some network should plan a reality show on the Ambani battle? Or are they doing it already on the news?”

Writing a novel? Just tweet it

When Matt Stewart’s agent submitted his debut novel to publishing houses, he didn’t quite get the response he wanted.

“Many of them loved it, but none were willing to buy what they viewed as a ‘risky’ novel — vivid language, elements of fantasy and farce, raunchy humor,” the San Francisco resident wrote on his website.

But Stewart didn’t lose heart. On July 14, he started posting “The French Revolution” on Twitter.