By Ruchi Bambha:
Needless to say that the year 2013 has come to an end and it is time for everyone to count the bruises and blessings it has brought to the people. As Janus faced people look at 2013 with retrospection and nostalgia, there they herald the arrival of 2014 with aspirations and penchant yearning. There can be different ways to disseminate the accomplishments and insufficiency of a year in terms of political commotion, health sector performance or financial uproars but let us unravel the year 2013 in a new light – How has 2013 been significant with respect to mass awareness?
When 2012 ended on a sad note after the heinous gang rape of a 23 year old girl, it posited two fold reactions by the people. Where at one end it magnified social fears, there at the other end the 24*7 media coverage amplified the anger of the people. The point to point awareness created by the social networking sites and media played a huge role in driving people to carry out protests in a determined manner. It was the result of this determined struggle of people that led the government to carry out a relatively faster judgement in the Nirbhaya case awarding death penalty to the perpetrators of the crime. Most importantly, the awareness about the fact that nation sympathized with the victimized women led many women to come out from the purdah of pseudo shame and report their sexual exploitation carried out by prominent figures like “God man” Asaram Bapu or The editor in chief of Tehelka, Tarun Tejpal or Justice AK Ganguly.
Undoubtedly, media and social networking sites have played a crucial role in spreading awareness about matters requiring urgent attention. The increase in number of voter turnouts (67%) in 2013 Delhi Elections was a welcome change as it was an exposition that people became politically more engaged. The extensive media follow up of the number of scams like 2G, Coalgate and Augusta Westland Chopper Deal in the country stirred anti-government sentiments in the minds of people. Moreover, with regard to the recent Delhi Elections, the Election Commission adopted a non-conformist way of including celebrities to glorify the act of voting. Nonetheless, the social media bringing out campaigns like Flaunt the dot also played a crucial role in driving out young people to vote. Many social debates in news channels and also in print media against the unjustified commodity price rise not only built anger in the psyche of people but also led them out in huge numbers to vote for the party that promised to solve their day to day problems existent in the current dealing.
One segment in 2013 that by all means stood apart in creating awareness was advertisements. When the masses’ favorite jewelry company Tanishq delivered an ad where a dusky single mother was remarrying with the new hopes, it put out a huge social message in front of people deconstructing the shallow perspective by which women are generally weighed. The general expectation of crowd when they see a woman as a bride is that she should be fair, delicate and virgin. The fact that Tanishq celebrates remarriage of a dusky woman in a country obsessed with skin tone is by large a celebration of womanhood at one time and destruction of feeblemindedness of society at another. Another advent in field of advertising that was worth taking note was the advertisement creating awareness about one the issue of Child abuse in our country and the helpline numbers to follow in regard to this by The Ministry Of Women and Child Development. India is a country that deals with child molestation as an issue, underlying the sanctimonious society. The fact that government has taken initiative to help people be cognizant of this and be brave enough to report it has thankfully broadened the linear stereotype thinking of the masses.
2013 also stood eminent in the field of health sector creating much awareness about Stem Cell preservation. October 2, 2013 was internationally marked as stem cell awareness day and India also showed active participation in spreading awareness. In India, many celebrities like Lisa Ray came forward to educate the masses about stem cell preservation and its benefits in curing many diseases including Cancer. This led to 2013, as a year in India that recorded maximum number of entries for stem cell preservation. Interestingly, when veteran actor Shah Rukh Khan’s baby was born out of surrogacy, many people resorted to magazines, media and search engines to find the meaning of this new medical term. Although surrogacy has been prevalent over a prolonged period of time but the news and debates about it spread like wildfire in 2013 educating masses about this. To many unacquainted minds that had left hopes to have a child, surrogacy became a boon as they could enjoy parenthood by resorting to it.
Nonetheless, in the finance sector when news and television created a commotion as Raghuram Rajan took over as the 23rd governor of the Reserve Bank of India, people relied all their faith in him. The financial gurus adorning Mr. Rajan as the wisest visionary made people follow his activities in economics. The pink pages of economic times were not only followed by masses in huge numbers to have a peak over the man’s chiseled jawline and sharp features but his clear unobstructed decisions were made available to through a number of interviews and debates. Many people understood the real need for inflation at current contingency and their need to keep calm with respect to investments as the other countries like Brazil and Russia were also facing problems of slow growth. This investor confidence and the mass awareness about the current fiscal situations also led to stabilize the volatile market.
The year 2013 was also declared as a year of Water Conservation wherein many awareness programs were carried out in metropolitans and other cities about the urgent need to conserve water and their sustainable use. Programs like painting competition were conducted in many schools across the country that was sponsored by Ministry Of Water Resources to inculcate the knowhow about water conservation among young minds.
Hence, where 2012 ended with anger and anxiety, 2013 ends with hope and aspirations.2013 holds many cases where people activism was the highlight and many awareness programs were embarked upon. The advertence with respect to different sectors in the country increased the knowledge quotient of many people in this year who are heading to, in Aldous Huxley’s words,Â ‘The Brave New World’.