Reacting to a barrage of complaints against the Bharat Nirman ads on Bills that have not yet been cleared by the Parliament, the Advertising Standards Council of India-ASCI, an industry watchdog, decided that it cannot rule on government and political advertisements
Remember the blitzkrieg of advertisements on the hawkers bill and the realty regulator? The first showed a hawker who refused to be cowed down by a policeman who tried to shoo him away. Instead, he said, he had an identity card that he seemed to suggest, gave him a license to hawk where he chose. The policeman immediately chose to patronise the hawker and was seen enjoying gol-gappas. Very touching. Except that the Bill to legalise hawking is yet to be cleared by both houses of Parliament (it has been cleared by only one) nor received Presidential assent or have rules framed for its implementation and notified in the national gazette. The advertisement creates the false impression that hawkers and squatters cannot be evicted by the police or the municipal corporations anymore. This is clearly false and mischievous, because the Bill provides for specially demarcated hawking zones in which they are to be rehabilitated.
Merely having a disclaimer to the advertisement in English, when it is clearly an election gimmick aimed at a specific economic segment, is brazenly misleading. As for the identity card that the hawker displays – where is the question of any such card until the Bill is passed and regulations framed? This is just a lie that claims delivery of benefits to people which are patently untrue.
The second advertisement seems aimed at the urban middleclass anger against pro-builder realty laws. See Bharat Nirman realty advertisement here: At the end of a decade in power, the government plans a Realty Regulator -- but it is in such a hurry to claim brownie points that it is already touting fake empowerment, with a disclaimer to say that the Bill has yet to be passed in parliament. This advertisement claimed to have settled the issue of how the size of a flat is measured – the carpet area v/s built up area debate. Again, it was false and misleading, because no Bill has been passed. We also know that the realty Bill has been delayed for decades because of powerful political interests. In fact, in most regional political parties, the public source of wealth of their leaders is through realty development, because they alone are best placed to run the gauntlet of rules and permissions that are required under multiple laws and ministries.
What is shocking is that the Bharat Nirman advertisements are issued by the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting (MIB), which expects private industry to follow strict rules with regard to misleading advertisements. Also, there could be significant amendments to the Bill during the process of Parliamentary discussion. How can the government be confident it will be cleared as introduced? Both the advertisements were hotly debated on social media. One question raised was how and why should government advertisements issued at taxpayers’ expense carry a photograph of the Congress party leader?
There is a similar absence of rules about all government advertisements including the ones issued by various ministries and public sector undertakings to announce new projects, policy initiatives, seminars or to commemorate the birth and death anniversaries of various leaders. We learn that dozens of complaints were filed with ASCI regarding the two misleading Bharat Nirman advertisements. Then, 11.34 pm on 26th September, everyone who complained against the advertisement received a standard email that said: “The current policy of ASCI is not to take complaints against government and political advertisements as ASCI is a self-regulatory industry body for commercial advertisement content. However, the ASCI Board plans to revisit this policy soon and will clarify its decision by making appropriate changes in its advertising code, if required. Meanwhile, your complaint against some of the Bharat Nirman ads has been forwarded to the TV content regulator, which is the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting, for taking appropriate action”.
However, the message seems to have reached the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting. It was soon evident that all the Bharat Nirman advertisements had been withdrawn, including the ones regarding the food security and land acquisition Bills, where the government had been making claims without any real benefits having reached people under these two acts. To that extent, even those advertisements were misleading, but they at least had the fig leaf of having been cleared by parliament. Anyway, good sense seems to have prevailed and all of a sudden, there is no Bharat Nirman on television anymore. Maybe some people in the Congress party remember what happened to the Indian Shining claims of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) regime.
Asking the Indian government not to allow clinical trials for untested medicines, the apex court said a system must be put in place to protect the lives of people
The Supreme Court on Monday, said not to allow clinical trials for new drugs till a mechanism is put in place to monitor them and to protect the lives of people on which drugs are tested.
A Bench headed by Justice RM Lodha said that a system must be put in place to protect the lives of people and asked the Centre not to allow clinical trials for untested medicines.
The Centre also assured the apex court that it will not allow clinical trials for 162 drugs permitted by it earlier.
The Bench also asked the Centre to consider suggestions of various stakeholders in putting in place the mechanism to avoid any serious and adverse impact.
The Court had earlier said that clinical trials of untested drugs on humans require certain mandatory standards to be followed and had also directed the government to put in place a mechanism to monitor them.
It had directed the Centre to convene a meeting of Chief Secretaries or Health Secretaries of all the states to frame a law for regulation of clinical trials of drugs by multinational pharma companies.
Earlier, the apex court had said that uncontrolled clinical trial of drugs by multinational companies was creating havoc and slammed the Centre for failing to stop the rackets, which caused deaths.
Observing that the government has slipped into “deep slumber” in addressing this “menace”, the court had ordered that all drug trials will be done under the supervision of the Union Health Secretary.
In an affidavit, the Centre had admitted that 2,644 people died during clinical trials of 475 new drugs between 2005 to 2012.
“Serious adverse events of deaths during the clinical trials during the period were 2,644, out of which 80 deaths were found to be attributable to the clinical trials,” the affidavit had said.
“Around 11,972 serious adverse events (excluding death) were reported during the period from 1 January 2005 to 30 June 2012, out of which 506 events were found to be related to clinical trials,” the Centre had said.
The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by NGO Swasthya Adhikar Manch, alleging large scale clinical drug trials across the country by various pharmaceutical firms using Indian citizens as guinea pigs in those tests.
The NGO had alleged that the clinical trials by several pharmaceutical companies were going on indiscriminately in various states.
According to the Tamil Nadu chief minister, linking DBT scheme for LPG customers to Aadhaar number without preparing adequate system would only lead to confusion
Reiterating Tamil Nadu government’s opposition to direct benefit transfer (DBT) scheme for consumers of liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) or cooking gas, J Jayalalithaa, the state chief minister, has urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to put on hold the roll-out of proposed second phase (Phase-II) of the project.
Jayalalitha, in a letter to the prime minister, said, “I strongly urge you to have a complete rethink on the proposed direct benefit transfer for LPG consumers and pending such a rethink, put on hold the proposed phase-II roll out”.
The Petroleum Ministry has announced that it has proposed to implement the second phase of direct benefit transfer scheme for LPG consumers in 235 districts across the country, including in 25 districts in Tamil Nadu from January 2014.
Referring to the recent Supreme Court verdict on the UID programme, the chief minister pointed out that so far against 6.74 crore eligible persons in Tamil Nadu, Aadhaar numbers have been issued only to 2.52 crore.
The Centre has made Aadhaar for DBT mandatory. Linking DBT scheme for LPG customers to the Aadhaar number without preparing the system adequately will only lead to confusion, she said.