Explainer: As Centre drafts bill with 5yr jail for fair skin ads, is it time to be 'fair'?
New Delhi, Feb 07: The Health and Family Welfare Ministry has proposed the draft amendment to the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements Act, 1954), with a stringent punishment of a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to Rs 50 lakh for advertisements for remedies for fair skin by drugs.
The draft also includes the other proposals like enhancing sexual performance, stammering, infertility in women, premature ageing and greying, increasing brain capacity.
The draft amendment has listed 78 diseases, disorders and conditions saying any "magic remedies" to cure these should not be advertised.
Here are some of the new included additions that the Centre is opposing against for ads--disorders of menstrual flow hysteria, obesity, improvement in height of kids/adults, enhancing sexual performance, sexual impotence, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhoea, cure for AIDS, and insanity.
Under the act, the first conviction is proposed to increase the punishment and penalties to up to two years and fine up to Rs 10 lakh from six months or fine or both while the subsequent conviction to increase to five years with a fine of up to Rs 50 lakh from a year or fine, or both.
The objections may be forwarded within 45 days from the date of issue of this notice.
The root of the racism
The Indian subcontinent has been under the radar of various settlers, rulers, invaders, colonizers, and traders from the very 1400s who were Dutch, French, Portuguese, Mughals, and of course, the British.
The British were settled in the country from the 17th century till 1947.
All these foreigners were of relatively fair complexion and were relatively claimed to be superior.
During the British Empire, they kept light-skinned Indians as allies and gave them extra advantages over the dark-skinned ones.
The East India Company named their settlement-for as 'White Town' while their Indian settlement 'Black Town'.
Also, according to the Indian socio-economic hierarchy, the upper castes like Brahmins and Kshatriyas were fair-skinned and lower castes who performed manual tasks, were dark-skinned.
People from lower castes were tagged of having dark skin because for generations they have been subjected to hard physical labour which were mostly exposed in the sun.
So after a certain time fair-skinned became synonymous with the elite class and darker-skinned Indians were not allowed to match with them.
Farming still is one of the most major profession in India. Our culture and history speak for farmers, who have to toil under the scorching sun which makes their skin darker.
As farmers are not so-called rich in our society, fair skin equalled only for prosperity.
Country's obsession for fair skin is recent. If you look at the Gods, Krishna, Parvati, Arjun, Vishnu, they are mostly dusky.
This particular racism is brought by our rulers and inherited by our ancestors and having dark skin became a stigma for Indian men and women. And many companies have been doing business over the weakness for decades.
The skin whitening market of the country is expected to achieve annual market revenue of $720 million by 2023 and the category of women's fairness cream is supposed to achieve market revenues of more than Rs 5,000 crores by 2023, with the dark-skinned unmarried women still are waiting to be fairer to find groom.