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A Popular Company Launched Atta Maker With Classist Ad, Suggesting Only Domestic Help Get Covid-19

A Popular Company Launched Atta Maker With Classist Ad, Suggesting Only Domestic Help Get Covid-19

The ad comes across as highly insensitive and even dangerous as it might deepen the stigma against domestic workers.

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Jashodhara Mukherjee

An Indian water purifier company, a brand frequently endorsed by Bollywood actor and BJP MLA Hema Malini, is getting a lot of attention-- not for the right reasons.

The company launched a product-- an atta maker-- a machine that kneads the dough and may be a useful tool in the times of a pandemic where large parts of the world are still under lockdown-- effectively forcing Indians, highly dependent on their domestic help, to cook, clean, binge on shows and working from home at the same time. But, of all the things that the company could think of as an advertisement-- it came up with the most obnoxious, classist one.

The ad poster, which was initially posted on Instagram, speaks about the importance of a hands-free atta maker in light of the coronavirus outbreak in the country. So far, so good. Then comes the next bit of the poster which asks if you are "letting your maid use her hands to knead dough". Appalled already? Wait, there's more. The next slide says "Her hands may be infected."

The ad-makers suggested that domestic help may be carriers of Covid-19 although by now we know that anyone (absolutely anyone) could be carrying the virus. Data taken from the last two months would show that the virus has affected people across demographics.

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed the inequality that is already prevalent in the Indian society. It has made class distinction and discrimination all the more evident. More than 400 million people in the country are employed in the informal sector, which includes domestic help. It must be remembered that Covid-19 is a global pandemic, and anyone can be a carrier - from a top-ranked politician to a people living on the streets. To insinuate that a domestic help, who may not be as privileged as you, is more likely to be infected is not just classist, it's also illogical.

There is no current data to point towards the exact number of domestic workers in India but according to National Sample Survey (2012), 39 lakh are employed as domestic workers by private households, of which 26 lakh are female. Following the Coronacirus outbreak and the lockdown, most couldn't make it to work anymore. The employers, meanwhile, wasted no time in making them feel dispensable. Many of them lost their jobs, several received pay cuts, and some of them were compelled to work, even as the government put the nation under complete lockdown.

The company's advertisement comes across as highly insensitive and even dangerous as it might deepen the stigma against domestic help, who have already been left penniless and deprived owing to the pandemic.

Twitter obviously outraged at the despicable ad.

Following the outrage, chairman of the company, Mahesh Gupta has now issued an apology and stated that the advertisement has been withdrawn.


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