Health Ministry’s Bold Proposal: 5 Year Jail Term and Huge Fine for Advertising Fairness Creams

The Modi government has prepared a strong stand against the promoters and actors advertising and endorsing fairness creams. Anyone endorsing or promoting such advertisements would be liable for the fine up to fifty lakh rupees and a jail term of 5 years if the bill passes. The government has included some other disorders and diseases also in the list by introducing amendments in Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, which has increased the number of conditions from 54 to 78.

The health ministry under Modi government has formulated the policy to impose a fine on the advertisements promoting fairness creams, enhancement in the brain capacity and sexual performance, improving anti-ageing remedies, curing premature graying of hair and ageing, enhancement in memory and the strength of vision and teeth, increase in height of adults or children, and change of fetus genders by drugs.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has stated that the amendment in the draft has been proposed so that we can, as a society could keep pace with changing technology and time. The current law has the arrangement of six months imprisonment, with or without fine in the first offense and imprisonment of one year for the crime done the second time. In the proposed draft bill, the penalties have been made more stringent by introducing the detention of two years along with the hefty fine of 10 lakh rupees in the first offense. The offenders will be liable for the jail term of 5 years and a fine of Rs 50 lakh.

The current law stated that any magic remedy in the form of a mantra, talisman or kavacha will be recognized and comes under the purview of the newly proposed rule if it boasts of having miraculous power to cure, mitigate, diagnose or prevent any disease or disorder. The law does not only accounts for humans but also animals influencing or affecting the organic function or structure of the human body or animals. The proposal of the draft bill is also intended to expand the definition and purview of an advertisement by including any announcement made by visual publicity or audio, endorsement, pronouncement, or representation by using means of sound, electronic media, online, websites, gas, print or smoke. It also includes any circular, wrapper, notice, label, banner, invoice, poster, or other documents of the same kind.

The government also intends to prohibit or ban the advertisements talking about products and medicines purported to treat or prevent any of the 78 disorders or diseases or conditions specified in the proposed draft. It should be kept in notice that the number of such diseases or disorders were altogether 54 in the previous act. The government also intends to ask for comments, suggestions, or objections regarding the proposed draft bill from the stakeholders or the public.

Why the proposed bill is a welcome move by the ministry?

It has been taken into notice that the brands often exploit the emotions of the target audience by glorifying the idea that only fair-skinned people can grab great success. Such glorification through advertisements and other sources sometimes make an adverse impact on the minds of those who are not fair-skinned. Such glorification may sometimes lead to a society full of discrimination. So that people having dark complexion feel insecure and rush to purchase such products to attain significant amount of success.

There are several brands and products which have used this idea to increase the sales of their products, presenting dark skin as an ailment. People may become optimistic once the new rules are formulated by the government. This may bring a change in the current narrative, and people endorsing such advertisements would think twice before advertising for any such product.