Anil Thakraney: Ad agencies can help with hate crime control

08 Aug,2012

By Anil Thakraney


I still recall the first thing many Americans did immediately after 9/11. This was to frantically search for their world maps, and try to locate Afghanistan. This, of course, became a subject of many jokes at the time, but after we stopped sniggering, we realized that the average Yankee is totally cut off from the rest of the world. That, he/she has never stepped out of his/her comfort zone and hasn’t even bothered to find out what goes on beyond their shores. That it was of no consequence to them. And this isn’t something to laugh at, it can be dangerous.


The recent attack on a Gurudwara in Wisconsinis yet another reminder that the average American remains blissfully ignorant of international geography, history, culture and religion. The attack was obviously targeted at another religious minority group, and our Sardarji friends paid heavily for someone’s lack of general knowledge. So then what’s the way out of this mess? There is only one way: this problem can be fixed by advertising agencies. Because it pertains to communications.


I think ad agencies inIndiashould work with their American parents and devise a powerful communication package, to be run across the media, with the objective of imparting Americans with basic knowledge on various religions and cultures. The Obama government needs to include this education as a part of school and college syllabi, but that can only work as a long term solution. Ad agencies can create campaigns to provide immediate solutions.


So go for it, people. Not only will such a public service campaign win you many awards, you can end up saving many innocent lives. What can be sweeter than that?


An important disclaimer: Having said the above, let me hasten to add that attacks on ANY community members is highly deplorable, and one hopes that the world evolves to a stage where these things don’t happen at all. But in the meantime, at least the ill-informed Americans must be educated on how to differentiate between communities. That itself will be an important beginning.


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PS: If you are a constant tweeter, and have no control over your thoughts, hit this link. It’s about the journalist whose Twitter account was suspended. I like this. It’s time the social media portals stepped in to oversee things. Excessive illegal and abusive stuff seems to be freely floating around in the virtual world.




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