Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, one of the most important Modi Government initiatives suffers from a stunted Digital arm, a medium capable of transforming the campaign truly!
It was October 11, 2014. India was (and still is) grappling with a deplorable sex ratio of 918 girls for every 1,000 boys (according to the census of 2011). It was Prime Minister Modi’s first year in the office – call it the need of the hour or a political initiative, came into existence the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao (BBBP) Scheme.
A multi-sector initiative for selected 100 districts, BBBP is a joint action by Ministry of Women and Child Development, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The three ministries have been collectively striving to create awareness for this cause – advertisements for the same were run across 400 screens in 57 cities, with supporting banner ads.
BBBP ads left the viewers particularly ecstatic, when a campaign derived after a crowd-sourcing initiative by Prime Minister Modi. These particular ads were based on a concept by a Mumbai businessman, Sunil Alagh. As opposed to the usual “dowry is bad” mode, the campaign resorted to objectifying the groom (a torment that usually women are subjected too).
Both the commercials ended with a message – that dowry implies “putting the son up for sale.” They now belong to their wife – ultimate mockery of the evil haunting the country since decades.
While the campaign stunned thousands through the big screen, they missed out on the huge digital opportunity; this highlights how the overall initiative lacks the digital element.
A missed digital opportunity?
Beti Bachao Beti Padhao has an official Facebook page with 16,729 likes; the page however lacks the zest that a communication medium supporting a cause this big, should possess. With utter lack of adornment, the page has a few random posts of supportive drives happening in the country and comes across more as a PR mouthpiece for the members of the Ministry.
Beti Padhao Beti Badhao’s Facebook page was active when the campaign was launched in 2015 and managed to create certain reach for the videos. Post that it has been defunct.
The individual pages of the involved ministries too lacked any attempts to marketing one of most important schemes initiated by the Government.
On YouTube, Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao has a YouTube channel – one with 820 subscribers and Beti Padhao Beti Badhao has 142 subscribers. The former channel, consists of a few other TVCs and videos of the initiative executed on-ground. The latter seems to be created solely for the crowdsourced ads which were released in 2015. While one of the advertisements managed to garner 244,709 views, the latter stood at 26,937 views.
According to the Boston Consulting Group there are 120 million active internet users in Rural India, a number which is pegged to rise to 315 million by 2020. With Google’s Help Women Get Online and Facebook’s attempts of installing WiFi, these numbers are bound to climb faster than we anticipate. A grossly sad missed opportunity by Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao.
Anti-Dowry & Social Media
Brands on the other hand have managed to milk the anti-dowry and other social causes for marketing and brand recall purposes.
In 2015, ShaadiCares, a CSR initiative by Shaadi.com launched a Dowry Calculator, a satirical initiative that helps grooms and their families figure out the son’s ‘rate.’ It was a replication of the Dowry Calculator, created by an Indian engineer based out of USA, Tanul Thakur.
The following year, ShaadiCares released #NotForSale, a series of hard-hitting videos depicting men sharing their stories of refusing dowry, rather, refusing to sell themselves for dowry.
2016 witnessed, yet another anti-dowry initiative by BIBA, as a part of their #ChangeIsBeautiful series – wherein they showed a conversation between an aged mother and her son discussing their perspective dowry. The son insists that they should give dowry for the girl’s parents are trusting them with their daughter.
CSR on social media spread their wings in the last few years with the ecosystem actively speaking about causes such as cleft patients, mid-day meals for kids, and using eunuchs as models and singers!
The results created by these brands have been phenomenal, yet, the Government fails to achieve the same. Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, is a strong initiative with the capability of changing lives! We hope it gets the digital wings soon.