Volume 3 Issue 7 - April 01, 2005

‘Public interest' advertisement on road safety outrages sensitivity

DNIS News Network - A public interest advertisement issued by the Department of Road Transport and Highways hurts the sentiments of several disabled people in its interpretation of the wheelchair.

Picture of the insensitive road safety advertisement

A public interest' advertisement, issued by the Department of Road Transport and Highways, depicting a wheelchair flashing a number plate and the slogan, Drink, drive and this is what you may end up riding, has appeared in several English dailies in March. The wheelchair was intended to be a humiliating future, a punishment, doled out to drunken drivers, in the same way as children are disciplined with empty threats and reprimands. Though the advertisement is not empty in meaning, it implies that every wheelchair user got into that position due to irrational or irresponsible behaviour. It also carries the atrocious statement of guilt that a wheelchair is the penance one pays for past sins!

A letter of protest, sent to T.R. Balu, Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, by N.C.P.E.D.P., argues that the advertisement could be damaging to the psyche of millions of disabled people in the country, who are battling with society for acceptance and inclusion. The wheelchair in the advertisement becomes the embodiment of everything a non-disabled person would be terrified of, and that in turn could wrongly govern his approach towards disabled persons. N.C.P.E.D.P. had earlier also issued a Press Release requesting the media to boycott such advertisements.

It is understood that the government is using all methods and media to ensure the safety of Indian citizens, but it should not forget the sensitivities of the vast minority of Indians who are trying their level best to be a part of mainstream society. Insensitive depictions such as these could have long-term implications on the minds of millions of non-disabled and disabled people.

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