Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari is facing widespread criticism on social media for sharing an ad featuring Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar. The premise of the ad is to promote road safety, promoting cars using six airbags, but the narrative of the ad has made the minister and the actor face widespread criticism on social media. Many allege that the underlying message of the ad also promotes dowry which is a criminal offence and a social evil.
In the ad, a father is seen crying at his daughter’s farewell after the wedding. Akshay Kumar, in the role of a policeman, taunts the father for sending the newly married daughter in a car that has just two airbags. The father responds by boasting of various features and the latest technology used in the car. The policeman then goes on to tell the father the importance of six airbags in a car.
Several politicians from opposition parties, as well as many observers on Twitter have come out heavily against the ad, alleging that the video promotes the act of giving dowry, a social evil, as well as a criminal offence. Some questioned how the advertisement had been allowed to pass through the creative process while some claimed that the push for 6 airbags was a way to deflect the blame from faulty road designs.
The advertisement was launched after the death of Cyrus Mistry, the former chairman of Tata Sons in a car crash. The advertisement however, does not focus on the importance of wearing seatbelts by passengers in the rear seat, a simple precaution, experts say, is more effective in ensuring safety, than rear air bags.