A government advertisement campaign on road safety featuring actor Akshay Kumar has been called out by social media users for allegedly promoting the evil of dowry.
The premise of the ad, initially posted by Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Twitter on Friday, is to promote the use of six airbags in cars, a decision the government wants to implement following the death of former Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry.
The ad begins with a father sobbing while seeing his newly-married daughter off with her husband. Enter Akshay Kumar, who taunts the father by saying that he deserves to cry when he is sending his daughter in such a car. It is only when the father defends that the car is automatic with a sunroof, music system, and six speakers, that Kumar says that it has only two airbags when it should have six.
6 एयरबैग वाले गाड़ी से सफर कर जिंदगी को सुरक्षित बनाएं।#राष्ट्रीय_सड़क_सुरक्षा_2022#National_Road_Safety_2022 @akshaykumar pic.twitter.com/5DAuahVIxE
— Nitin Gadkari (@nitin_gadkari) September 9, 2022
Users have taken exception to the ad’s usage of marriage as a context and normalising dowry to send across a message on road safety.
While several users have slammed the ad’s creative team for using such backward notions, others have denounced the government for clearing such scripts.
“This is such a problematic advertisement. Who passes such creatives? Is the government spending money to promote the safety aspect of a car or promoting the evil and criminal act of dowry through this ad?” Shiv Sena leader Priyanka Chaturvedi tweeted.
“You realise you are encouraging dowry?” tweeted another user.
“Only in India would the govt spend taxpayer money to create an ad campaign promoting a punishable offence, dowry,” another user said.
Saket Gokhale, the national spokesperson of Trinamool Congress said the “official promotion” of dowry by the government was “disgusting”.
Others accused the government of washing its hands off all responsibilities by putting the onus of safety on car owners, while it should be ensuring safe roads and building better infrastructure for them.
Gadkari recently said rules will be finalised to make six airbags mandatory in all cars by the end of the current fiscal year.
The decision came after Mistry’s death in a car crash forced the government to revisit safety rules for backseat passengers in cars.