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When millions of people in India—from grandchildren to grandparents, fair-skinned to dark-skinned and rich to the poor—are obsessed with a biased, skin-deep beauty and use fairness products, I don’t understand why there is a hue and cry over the use of fairness creams (Ugly Fraud In Fairness Trade, May 1). We know this bias well. Fairness cream users experience psychological benefits—the placebo effect. In a country obsessed with fairness due to multiple factors, why not let the users of such products feel good about themselves after their acts of cosmetic consumerism. When Bollywood celebrities endorse these products, doesn’t it send the message that such products help consumers look like them. And everyone wants to look like them. The only thing is, manufacturers of fairness creams shouldn’t be allowed to take customers for a ride with false claims of guaranteed fairness.
K.P. Rajan, Mumbai
The various fairness creams flooding the Indian market account for big business. Through aggressive advertisement techniques, companies play on the insecurities of people affected by a generally racist society to reap profit. It is probably time people see through these false claims of manufacturers and also realise the harmful effects these creams have on the skin. Delhi law student Paras Jain has rightly brought the consumer forum to the fore.
Lt Col (retd) Ranjit Sinha, New Delhi
Our obsession with white skin happened long before the British came here. It comes from a deep-seated prejudice against imagined non-Brahmin characteristics. This dichotomy is clearly visible in the depiction of rakshasas in the TV show adaptations of India’s great epics. More recently, we have seen the extent of racism of Indians in the attacks on African students in Noida. According to a ruling party politician’s comment recently, fair-skinned Indians have been ‘tolerating’ their dark-skinned countrymen from the South for this long.
But these are well-known facts. What is heartbreaking is that celebrities like megastar Shahrukh Khan are endorsing these fairness creams just to make a fast buck. Even the so-called socially conscious women actors such as Deepika Padukone, Sonam Kapoor and Vidya Balan have joined the mad race.
Rakesh Agrawal, Dehradun
Beauty is only skin deep. As Mahatma Gandhi said, ‘Beauty lies not in complexion but in truth alone.’ As a concept, beauty refers not only to external physical features but also to the mind, character, behaviour and mannerisms of the individuals. Physical beauty is but a passing phenomenon; therefore, it makes little sense for anyone endowed with such beauty to be proud and arrogant. It is even more absurd that within this glorification of physical beauty, there is a preference in our society for the fair-skinned. What is more, there’s an entire market aggressively pushing this idea of beauty past the masses and a horde of celebrities helping this market in doing that. People are tired and weary of countless misleading advertisements they are bombarded with on a daily basis. There is an urgent need to stop this insensitive and extensive exploitation of gullible consumers.
M.Y. Shariff, Chennai
It is difficult to see any logic in this article or in the arguments of fairness cream critics. Every product is sold on the premise of some psychological gain. Many SUVs are sold to people who are made to think they are ‘sporty’ vehicles, but they are just oversized dangerous cars. Diamonds are sold on the premise that they are a ‘woman’s best friends’. Overpriced coffee is sold on the premise of experience…the list goes on. So why single out the fairness creams? It’s not about what products do or don’t do, it’s about the mental satisfaction they provide. Your writers just don’t understand marketing, it seems.
Dinesh Kumar, Chandigarh
Your article on fairness creams reminded me of something a relative of mine said when she was looking for a bride for her son. ‘I would like a fair girl for my boy,’ she said. Why? Their family is well educated and I thought they would know better. But, this bias is too deep-rooted, just open a matrimonial page of any Indian newspaper to see how vehemently people are obsessed with fair brides and grooms. Or just open the morning papers to see columns of fairness products with taglines such as—‘the world is not fair, but you be fair.’ Apart from the prejudice inherent in these ads, these products don’t even do what they claim to. It makes me wonder whether advertisements are not pre-checked by the Advertisement Standards Council of India (ASCI). Are ASCI standards not being properly applied to advertisements before they are released on mass media? And these are not marginal products; these are brands endorsed by top Bollywood celebrities. Remember the Maggi ban! Many celebs were endorsing that product too!
Kamal Anil Kapadia, Mumbai
The vast Indian market is flooded with beauty products and the revenue they earn and the spending on their advertisements are in billions. Fairness cream products form a big chunk of this market and the sales show that they attract people of all age groups. Earlier, the fairness factor was there for specific products—the fairness creams. But eventually, when companies realised it was a hit, it spread to face washes and anti-aging creams. Then celebrities like Shahrukh Khan started endorsing these products and they reached new heights and attained more legitimacy. But these products don’t do what they claim to, as mentioned in your article. That amounts to misleading consumers. Unfortunately, in India, there is not much awareness regarding consumer rights.
Ramachandran Nair, Oman
Everything is unfair about fair and lovely products in this race-obsessed country.
V.N.K. Murti, Pattambi
This is about the story on the downfall of Sasikala’s family (A Family Reined In By Ambition, May 1). Sasikala’s proxy rule was untenable. Now, at last, AIADMK leaders have declared their independence, after the Election Commission froze the party’s two-leaf symbol. Sasikla is no Jayalalitha. It remains to be seen how the two AIADMK factions will finally arrive at an honourable compromise, but that the party functionaries could even think of purging themselves of the ‘founding family’ will have ramifications beyond Tamil Nadu.
J. Akshobhya, Mysore
The two factions of the AIADMK may not yet be ready to oust the Sasikala clan from the party unless they are under pressure from the BJP. For now, any decision by the two camps to kiss and make up will only be to retrieve the party’s symbol and face the upcoming local body polls in Tamil Nadu. Indeed, the warring groups are themselves to blame for anointing Sasikala as the party’s general secretary. After all, they had been mollycoddled by Sasikala during the time of Jayalalitha, and hence may not have had the moral authority to cut her off completely. AIADMK general secretary T.T.V. Dinakaran’s strategic retreat indicates he may lie low for the time being in the expectation that he and Sasikala could take charge again if the merger moves fail.
K.R. Narasimhan, Chennai
For long, the Congress, which was in power, went on with its minority appeasement policy, ensuring that India continued with triple talaq—a practice that doesn’t exist even in Muslim countries, including Pakistan and Bangladesh in the subcontinent (Veil Can’t Hide This Sorrow, May 1). In the present times, when there is a rethink on the matter, the Muslim Personal Law Board is ever ready to stonewall any possible moves to stop triple talaq. The Allahabad high court slamming the practice as unconstitutional (last December) has only led the Islamic leaders to call the verdict as interference in Muslim personal law. This, when triple talaq is an obvious violation of the spirit of the Quran. It is sad that even Muslim leaders with modern education keep attacking the idea of a uniform civil code.
Mona Singh, On E-Mail
It is unfortunate that the AIMPLB is sticking to its anti-women stand on triple talaq. It looks like a mere eyewash that the board has come out with an eight-point code of conduct to prevent men from misusing triple talaq, given that the AIMPLB’s conduct rules have no legal sanctity. The board should look more sympathetically at the women in the community and dispel their fears about an insecure family life.
K.R. Srinivasan, Secunderabad
I refer to the story on Punjab CM’s cold shoulder to ‘Khalistan-linked’ Canadian minister Harjit Sajjan (Why Look The Other Way? May 1). Well, Amarinder’s rebuff might appear to be a personal one, but it’s no secret that people with Khalistani leanings have made north America, particularly Canada, their home and have done well there, even as part of the government and administration. The chief minister is clear on his stance of ‘no truck’ with terrorists who killed hundreds, and has stood his ground. In fact, his stand against Kejriwal’s hobnobbing with radicals before the assembly polls is also well known. Still, as Punjab CM, he ensured that Sajjan was accorded full state security according to protocol. Amarinder’s views are about an individual, not the defence minister of a friendly country.
L.J. Singh, Amritsar
The Punjab Chief Minister’s attitude towards the Canadian defence minister is surely against all norms of diplomatic protocol. Sajjan may have a different ideology, but does that mean we in India should not show him due respect? On one hand, he gets an inter-services guard of honour; on the other, he is subjected to derogatory comments.
R.S, On E-Mail
7Anand Kumar’s Super 30 has already made waves in academic circles (Classroom Diary, May 1). There is enough untapped youth potential among us, particularly in mofussil towns and villages—all wasted due to lack of education, exposure and motivation. It’s a great positive approach from the young man.
V.M., On E-Mail
I have invariably given your last page a miss. Thank god, I didn’t in the May 1 issue. It’s an inspiring story indeed. A must-read, worth emulating.
Lt Col S.K. Gulati, On E-Mail
This refers to your leader comment Piety Kills (May 1). Is a human being essentially a herbivore or a carnivore? I read somewhere that herbivores sip water whereas carnivores lick it. Elephants, camels, horses, cows, buffaloes and goats sip water, while lions, tigers, panthers, dogs and cats lick water. By this criterion, we are all herbivores as we sip water. There may not be conclusive evidence of herbivores living longer, but we can clearly see that many of them are quite peaceful despite being big: the elephant, the camel, the giraffe, the hippopotamus, the rhinoceros…. Associating the choice of food with piety may give an individual a sense of being better, purer and holier, but should not give him the right to dictate what others should eat. And, yes, bringing in Hitler to make your point is like dropping a bomb to kill a fly.
M.C. Joshi, Lucknow
This refers to your story on Kashmir, Islam Prop to New Poll (April 17). Former J&K CM Farooq Abdullah is in the departure lounge of life. His family is the reason for the abyss that Kashmir finds itself in.
Rajiv Chopra, Jammu
This refers to your web story TRS men undertake ‘coolie’ works for organising party plenary (Outlookindia.com, April 15). It is sad to read about ice cream being distributed at the ruling TRS’s plenary in Telangana while the heat wave was killing people in many parts of the state. The ruling parties in both Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are full of defectors and turncoats. Defectors need to be weeded out to enable transparency in governance. But the nation seems too preoccupied with cow-protection.
Vimal Kumar, Hyderabad
This refers to your interview with Law Commission chairperson Justice (retd) Balbir Singh Chauhan (‘It is those lawyers without work who agitate the most’, April 17). Justice Chauhan tells your correspondent, “I have also forgotten where my degrees of law are and there are many people like that.” I think this is an irresponsible statement. What if someone like me claims to be a lawyer and says he has lost his certificate? If a certificate is lost, one can apply to get a duplicate one from the concerned authority by paying the fees. How can you say after so many years in the profession that you don’t have the certificate of your qualification for it?
Sunil Pedgaonkar, Solapur
This is with reference to an April 17 letter titled ‘check on check’. The letter writer states that China had become a member of the UN in 1945 as Republic of China, and thus my contention of Jawaharlal Nehru’s benevolence could not be correct. It’s true that in 1945, the question of Nehru’s benevolence towards China in UN matters does not arise as India was still not independent until then. But when China became a communist nation in 1949, the US used its clout to oust China (by then the People’s Republic of China) from the UN. Thus if Nehru dished out any benevolence to China in his lifetime in the matter of UN membership, it was to ROC and not PRC.
B.N. Roy, On E-mail
The Election Commission is justified in its move to call off the byelections to R.K. Nagar in Tamil Nadu after it learned of massive distribution of money to influence voters (Cash-for-votes That Marred An Election, Apr 24). It should be as vigilant in other elections as well. After all, the poll body has its own expenses to meet so as to conduct a fair and free poll. But, it is a shame that the EC, with constitutional powers, continues to be ineffective in checking such wrong-doings in all the constituencies.
K.R.S., On E-Mail