Pepsi TV Advertisment mocks FTII Student Protests!

Referring to this Pepsi TV Advertisement. The advertisement may be catering to a sizable Youth population in Indian cities, but still the advertisement is in bad taste. Why? In a little while.

In contrast, the new Coca Cola TV Commercial featuring Aalia Bhatt as Facebook using daughter-in-law and Lillete Dubey as bottle-demanding Social network friendly mother-in-law is quite tasteful.

Why Pepsi TV Commercial is in bad taste?

It mocks (makes fun of) the FTII (Film and Television Institute of India) student protest. We may have distinct opinions about the validity of the ongoing FTII students’ protests against FTII chairperson Gajendra Chauhan and five other members, but still the Pepsi commercial doesn’t look good.

It doesn’t look good for the following two reasons.

One, the Pepsi TV advertisement tries to paint a picture where the biggest incentive to end a hunger strike is some silly carbonated drink. Remember, the FTII students called off their relay hunger strike on its 108th day. The incentive was the Government’s offer to resolve the standoff on the negotiating table. A TVC presenting a student protest as an absence of resolve is in a very bad taste. The Global beverage giant must have used its discretion before airing it.

Even at such a young age, these FTII students managed to continue with their hunger strike for 108 days. This is not a meager achievement. We don’t need to look far for, just need to ask ourselves what happened to the protests that took place three years ago. Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal made tall claims of fast unto death; only to succumb to hunger/health within a fortnight. The same happened with Defense Personnels’ hunger strikes in demand of One Rank One pension. It’s commendable that these young men and women from FTII presented a much dignified protest and majorly stuck to what they said.

After considering these facts and observations, a Multi-national Business making a mockery of hunger strikes in India doesn’t appeal much. That too, when India has a rich tradition of hunger strikes. It has been a key tool of non-violent peaceful protests. Every Labor right in India is a result of such hunger strikes and people with different degrees of resolve have given their lives for a cause.

Two, the Pepsi TVC making mockery of a student protest doesn’t look good because the demand of the FTII Students seems very genuine.

They want a better chairperson than Gajendra Chauhan.

Unfortunately all those who are commenting on the FTII protest as students interfering in a wholly executive decision belong to those Institutions, where Students are not allowed to take part in politics. But if quality education is a right of every student, then he has every right to protest against a bad appointment. May be we’re not comfortable with students demanding higher standards of education and appointments. We need to make ourselves open to such protests. We need to encourage Student politics in Colleges as well. The moment you conduct democratic elections though Universal suffrage for various student bodies within college campuses and give the Student Leaders a place in the College executive; you instantly start paying more attention to the Student welfare.

The students of FTII want a luminary to run their organisation. A person who can bring knowledge and experience to the Institution. A person who has comprehensive wisdom, which surpasses the contemporaries. Sadly, Gajendra Chauhan doesn’t fit the description.

As far as the FTII students’ demand to have someone who can keep the FTII culture intact is concerned; then that doesn’t seem that unjustified either. College Education is not merely menat to pass exams and receive a degree. It’s meant for developing creativity, rationality and challenging establish notions. This exactly means when one says great education gives confidence, wisdom and freedom to air ones views, think out of box with high degree of rationality. Seeing Mr. Gajendra Chauhan endorse and sell good luck amulets of various Gods and Goddesses on TV, doesn’t bring much confidence.

Last year when the present Union Government came to power, Pepsi Co Chairperson Indira Nooyi commented that the new Government will be good for India. Although her opinion then was seen not more than a congratulating message; the latest Pepsi Advertisement is a bit too much. Pepsi must learn from its rival Coca Cola, which used every word a section of India’s Youth loves (status update, Facebook Likes and Going viral).

PS: In other countries, Universities step over each other to get a Nobel Laureate inside their Campuses. They see him/her as a valuble asset and a prestige symbol. Irrespective of the seat he/she holds his views are listened to and if possible the Governments try to implement the suggestions in their policies. But the moment the present BJP Government came to power, the first thing it did was to make Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen quit the seat of Chancellor of Nalanda University (Feb 21, 2015).

No wonder, the present Government saw merit in putting Gajendra Chauhan as the Chairperson of FTII.