The images accompanying any archival advertisement (pre-1947) have much to tell about the times, society, people, perceptions, preferences, products, market and politics of the vast Indian Subcontinent, characterized by diversity across the board but tied with a thread of traditional, conservative values. And the advertisers did not lose the golden opportunity to cash the 'Swadeshi' wave!
First let us all proceed to one Mushaira (Poet’s meet). The year is 1879.
“Traders have swelled up with riches. Their bellies ballooning like fire- engines, brother that is what that it is! No other Paper can match the Punch Its here for ever, brother, that is what it is !” (Bhartendu Harishchandra)
This poem was by Lalasaheb (trader) which inspired his wife – Lalayan , who lost no time in adding that their children having funny names- Khusia, Chadami and Nanku should be educated in England and she herself should be given a gown because the Lahaga-duppata (traditional dress) she no longer finds suitable. And that her fine verse should be published only in the Punch. “ I beseech and beg of you Why not get it published in the Punch?” Sadly, London Punch is no more, but other attractions are still fresh as ever in India.
Ever enticing nature of advertisements fills us with a cup of branded tea every morning --calling us to buy more & more. Yes, 350 million Indian middle class is really huge for anyone to ignore, whether in terms of its problems, purchasing power, aspirations, skills.....and the list is endless. Like the Lalayan, the lure of consumer goods, foreign University degree, travel is a bit too much to ignore? But is real income to rise above inflation? While the main street struggles with Greed generated high food prices, leading economists continue to play the blame game. Malnutrition is high but poor get the blame of eating more. Leading columnist argue corruption is embodied in Indian Culture -the honest man fighting corruption is shocked. When the world is rocked by Earthquake in Japan and devastation, editorial of Financial Chronicle shouts-" Go Ferrari: Time is ripe for India's neo-moguls to flaunt their arrival". The women feel unsafe in capital of largest democracy of the world, country-wide experiencing high unemployment rate, talk of women empowerment?
Welcome to THE Indian Mushaira - 2016 !
Word & Picture
Needless to stress that the role of media is far more crucial today.
And SARCAJC has more to offer.