New Delhi: Astral Poly Technik, a manufacturer and provider of CPVC piping and plumbing systems, has rolled out a new campaign which advocates the change in mindset among rural menfolk when it comes open defecation.

Made by advertising agency Lowe Lintas Ahmedabad, the three-minute long digital campaign features women from a village acting as a moral brigade as they surround the men who venture out in the field to carry out their morning routine. In a chorus, they belt out a meaningful rendition that despises the actions of men for ignoring threats faced by women when it comes to open defecation. They eventually make them realize the importance of constructing toilets in their own homes for the safety of women and maintaining hygiene.

The objective of the campaign is to further Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious toilet-construction programme which is a part of the Swachh Bharat (Clean India) Mission to make India open-defecation free. Currently, 60% of rural households and 89% of urban households have access to toilets—a considerably greater coverage than reported by Census 2011.

“With this campaign, we are not only hoping to spark a realisation about the evils of open defecation amongst those who are the most inflicted, but also support the Government’s Swacch Bharat initiative by creating awareness among masses and playing our part as responsible corporate citizen," said Kairav Engineer, senior business development manager, Astral in a statement.

The Economic Survey 2016-17 has revealed that the lack of sanitation and toilet facilities causes immense burden on women which can take several forms: threat to life and safety while going out for open defecation, reduction in food and water intake practices to minimize need to exit the home to use toilets, polluted water leading to women and children dying from childbirth-related infections.

In its ad, Lowe Lintas highlights the plight of women. “The irony is the rural menfolk take this issue as lightly as a nag by the women. Our communication has taken a very different tone and pitch, to bring about not just awareness but also effect change," said Sagar Kapoor, executive director, Lowe Lintas.

The film is currently being promoted across company’s digital platforms including streaming site YouTube and social media platforms Facebook and Twitter.

Noting that the company has done a good job in terms of execution, casting and cinematography, Manish Bhatt, founder director, Scarecrow Communications feels that open defecation should not be equated with gender.

“I was born and brought up in a village in Gujarat. I see this problem in a different light. Sanitation is a basic right which is equal for both men and women. For people who live in mud houses in villages where there is still no sewer system the construction of toilets is not a possibility for them. I feel this campaign generalizes the bigger problem of infrastructure development which leads to open defecation," he said.

Bhatt also feels that the company has to complement the digital campaign with an intensive on-ground activation where they help people by raising awareness and providing cheaper products to help construct toilets.

“Astral has to go beyond the film and do real on-ground work which improves the quality of life of people. Otherwise, they will come across as preachy and opportunist," he added.

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