Topic of discussion in this issue:

INDO - US NUCLEAR DEAL …Is it really good for India ?

EVER SINCE July 2005 when the Indo-U.S. civilian nuclear cooperation agreement was signed, the country has been plunged in a heated debate over its implications. Leaving aside the ideologues, whose views are conditioned by their inherent pro- or anti-Americanism, the merits of the agreement have been the subject of much discussion, with strategic experts, the scientific community as well as concerned citizens divided in their views and presenting very divergent opinions.

What do u have to say regarding this issue?

Views-in-Favour and Counter-Views on this conflagrant battle are solicited. Your views should reach us at


Solution to previous issue: Surrogate advertising: should it be banned???

Yes it should be banned !!

In ad parlance,‘surrogate advertising' is a politically correct term used to define fraudulent pieces of communication. For example, all those playing cards, soda water bottles, apple juices, mineral water and other product ads we see, are actually clever promotions for liquor and cigarette brands by the same name. Let's take an example how it works.

To explain…..a party is going in full swing, guests are enjoying their drinks and chatting away. A gentleman finishes his drink and hands over the empty glass to the waitress. Another lady also finishes her drink and places the glass on the tray. On both the glasses ‘AC Black Apple Juice' is printed. As the waitress carries the empty glasses, the two AC Black ones knock against each other. In the next shot a kind of mysterious force pulls the two guests, who bump against each other. While waitress continues to carry the tray, the two glasses keep brushing against each other…and so do the young couple. Even as the dance between the two glasses goes on in full scale, the impact is felt in equal strength by the couple. The glasses are taken for a wash, and are placed under the rush of tap water. Continuing with the pattern, the young dancing partners too find themselves in pouring rain. Finally having cleaned the glasses, the waitress keeps them for drying, placed beside each other. The amazed guests look on as the couple also stands immobilized side by side. The voice over says: "AC Black Apple Juice, kuch bhi ho sakta hai" (Anything is possible).

So, is this a T.V. commercial for plain, simple apple juice? This is surrogate advertisement- Today's visage.

The literal meaning of ‘Surrogate advertising' is duplicating the brand image of one product extensively to promote another product of the same brand. Advertisement, as a popular medium of paid communication has drawn public ire time and again for moving away from the truth and the consumers ‘right to know' to providing false images. The masked creative leave it to the consumers to read between the lines.

This advertisement gimmick has its genesis in U.K. , where English housewives protested against liquor advertisements as.they felt that these ads were weaning their husbands away from them and hence perceived as a threat. The liquor and the tobacco barons not only in U.K. but also in other countries including India dealt with resistance by advertising cocktail mixtures, fruit juices, apparel, etc.The imagery used in most of the commercials is that which one can associate with alcohol. Apart from brand names they assort the products with seems like machoism, scantily clad girls, dim lights, people partying and doing merry together.

Celebrity endorsements with Shatrughan Sinha for the Bagpiper soda to the leading stars such as Akshay Kumar for the Red & White Bravery Awards while Johnny Walker Scotch Whisky promotes a series of successful stories on the T.V. channel-CNBC India through sound bytes like Amitabh Bhachan.

Event marketing has benefited sports, fashion & music. The alcohol based brand sponsors sports and receives visibility via advertising and below-the-line marketing. Seagram-the producer of the premium whisky Chivas Regal have been promoting Chivas Regal Championships and Chivas Regal Invitational Golf Challenge for corporate executives. United Breweries group been associated with formula one racing since long through its flagship beer brand king fisher, Mc Dowell & Co. has associated its umbrella brand McDowell with sport of derby. While the most interesting amongst them is the Hayward's 5000 beer, which uses dart boards as their surrogate product in their ads and the brand has gone one step further by associating itself with a new sport ‘darting' and is sponsoring national dart championships.

Wills life style is a chain of specialty stores providing exclusive designer collection. At 2003 Images Fashions Awards, Wills Life Style was declared ‘the most admired exclusive retail chain of the year'. Hence the stores serve as effective brand wagon for the cigarette brand. Another glaring example in this field is Manikchand-a major gutka manufacturer who sponsor filmfare awards and promotes its brand name.

Conflict between health and economic interests of the country .

Some Quick facts: 

•  Cigarettes cause about 6.35 lakh deaths in India every year.

•  About 33 per cent of cancer cases are attributed to tobacco consumption.

•  However, cigarettes alone account for roughly 10% of excise collections.

•  Tobacco trade is a major contributor to the national exchequer

Taking into consideration the above mentioned facts surrogate advertising should be banned .


No it should not be banned !!

Should one lose the right to tipple or smoke? Certainly not. The wisdom of the Government extends only to banning the advertising of tobacco or liquor. Not to the manufacture or marketing of these supposedly deadly substances. It is legal to manufacture liquor and cigarettes or beedis . It is legal to sell cigarettes at every roadside stall, even to unsuspecting children. It is illegal to advertise it? And that is precisely why we have to live with surrogate advertising. We can remember the `Keep Walking' series of advertising They were the result of a market reality where a manufacturer who has the right to sell his products does not have the right to advertise it.

Who is anyone to decide whether one can sip his/her daily quota of what started off as eau de vie , or the water of life and then rapidly transformed itself into its present day avatar, Scotch? People have spent years perfecting a heavenly blend of spirits, and imparted to it the smoky flavor that could come only from the peat of Scotland and the pristine Highland water. Several others have made methode champenoise into a fine art and have succeeded in bottling the very soul of France in green bottles that, when uncorked, seem to scream celebration.

Who has the right to decide if one should deeply inhale the rich aroma and full-bodied flavor of carefully rolled Virginia tobacco? Every time one nonchalantly put one of those sticks to his/her lips they feel to have mounted a wild mustang and riding down the lonely mountain trails of Colorado.

And then we have seen it all, with the surrogate political advertising. There have been two TV commercials released by "NGOs", one that appears to debunk the BJP and the other, a rather well thought out effort that seeks to portray the Congress in a poor light. Neither is released by the respective political parties, who have no doubt very righteously denied any hand in their release.

Now here is where we should draw the line. Political parties comprise individuals who are ruling, or who could rule the country very soon. They are the leaders who frame the law. If they feel it fit to make a mockery of it, how can they have the moral right to ever point a finger at surrogate advertising that furthers "crass" commercial interests?

The ‘India Shining' campaign, as we all know only too well, is the mother of all surrogates: a misleading campaign that does nothing for the nation… it parasites on the taxes paid by us, and shamelessly promotes BJP's own electoral agenda.

And thus surrogate advertising should not be banned .