Dalit Family Photo Used For Sanitation Campaign Without Permission – Just A Violation Of Privacy or More?

Toilet posters rowIt was rather disturbing to see this on the news today. We all know that government is considering the total sanitation campaign with all seriousness and they are being quite aggressive about it. It is really a great move considering how basic a necessity this sanitation is and also how important it is to educate the public on the same.

As we know, the issue of open defecation centres around the village areas and the slums where development hasn’t reached the end user yet. At places where it is hard enough to lead a daily life, it is harder to think on issues of sanitation and the government is considering an all out campaign to educate public on it and also provide a few developmental incentives which is a great initiative.

Although we are appreciative of all this, it was quite a shocker to see the posters used for the sanitation campaign. The whole issue is that a poster of a dalit family is being used to promote the need for toilets and better sanitation. Apparently the family had no idea that the poster was being used for that. NDTV report says that the photograph was taken for census and was used for this purpose and naturally the family has taken offence to it and tearing down the posters it can find. One can only imagine the plight and shock the family might have had when they would have seen this.

What makes us wonder is the sense of privacy in a country like ours. I do understand that when the population is so huge and the resources are limited, the sense of privacy and sensitivity take the back seat and development mostly means infrastructural. The social aspect of development comes in the later stage.

Dalit family Toilet posterHowever we cannot talk of development unless we look at it an inclusive and a holistic way. We cannot take the sense of privacy granted. I mean this might be a bit of a extreme case of hurting the sensitivity of people but most times it so happens that photographs are taken without permission of people. Being in the tourism sector, I have had the opportunity to see a lot of people from developed nations and interact closely with them. Something I have seen very openly about them is that they make sure that they take permissions before taking a picture.

I am not saying it is a great moral to live by. It is the most basic thing to do. And we all do it, we take permission of people, esp the educated ones or the ones in the fame circle and request a picture with them and we openly flaunt them on  our social circles. Then we also see a few people who share the pictures of beggars or people going through tougher situations in life and it makes me wonder whether adequate permissions were taken before these photographs? Was it so easy to take it for granted that they were the poor ones and there was no one who was going to question them?

Is the issue  of sensitivity based on a fear of action and insensitivity on impunity? And if that is the case, isn’t it a clear case of oppression?

I guess the answer is quite clear, oppression does happen in very simple things around us and the more we shy away from that or shun these, the more it is going to stay!

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19 Responses to "Dalit Family Photo Used For Sanitation Campaign Without Permission – Just A Violation Of Privacy or More?"

  1. It’s really shocking and shameful to see such pictures which violate someone’s personal space and right. Very well written post on such a serious and relevant subject Vinay. Hope concerned and responsible authorities come across this post and realize what mistakes are being made in the name of such campaigns.

    1. It felt really bad that it was done by the government or its agents Maitreni. Thanks so much, even I hope it reaches the right eyes and they bring in a little bit of sensitivity and responsibility that these issues deserve. It might look like a very small matter for a lot of these guys but these tiny bits of sensitivity and understanding can really go a long way in making the government a more responsible and responsive.. And hopefully a step closer in solving the social issues as well.

    1. It is the unfortunate truth that we have all seen I guess Fayaz. Things simply don’t work the same way for rich and poor. Maybe the knowledge that even they can pursue their rights and they have to be treated equal, that little sensitivity will go a long way in making a difference to the social fabric.

  2. So glad you have highlighted this issue Vinay. We can’t take the privacy of any individual for granted or rather the lack of need for it. Why should only the rich be entitled to such things?

    1. Thanks Lata. It is unfortunate that the same legal or the system is biased towards the rich. Maybe because these companies or the government is aware that these people can take action and there is an element of fear. But when it comes to underprivileged classes, they seem to forget that sensitivity doesn’t change.

    1. Even I am thinking the same Mridula. The agency found an easy way out and thought that people would not mind. My question was that the same agency would think twice before they would do something like this for a well off or an educated class in the society. Maybe because there is a fear that they might file a case against them.

      Even in this case, I think the family should be filing a case against the agency who did this. At least this way, the companies will be a little more careful about violating privacy of people – poor or rich regardless.

    1. Thank you Tina. True, although it looks like a very simple mistake on the outside, I think it is a collection of these simple mistakes which screws up a lot in the long run. After all, it is the right and privacy of someone else and it is completely unacceptable that it is being taken for granted. Sensitivity is too small a word. In any developed country, I am sure that the family could have sued the government or the agency for defamation and they would have had to pay a hefty amount for the same. Would the same laws or consideration apply here as well? Points to ponder!

    1. Indeed Kashpal, even I was a bit surprised that they took such a liberty with photos. I mean sometimes, we need to be a little sensitive about photos, esp on the media cos it really sends a lot of messages to the people at the receiving end. It really pisses me off when people say copyrights for some photos and sell them off to some media. But what I don’t understand is that even they need to be sensitive and take their permission before taking a photo and infact show it to them and take their permission before using them as well.


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