For decades, culture was seen as an obstacle to human rights. Culture was ‘conservative’, human rights were ‘liberal’ and to create a change one had to replace the other. But in a country like India, cultural traditions and beliefs are often stronger than laws. For example, child marriage and bonded labor are legally punishable but they continue to exist because they are deeply rooted in the culture. While human rights violations happen in communities, campaigns to promote human rights are at the national level. To get to the root of these issues, national campaigns needed to engage at a local and cultural level. And Bollywood could play the biggest role in a change like this.
Like remember this Vidya Balan Ad? Instead of trying to change an age-old custom, the culture of keeping women protected was used to promote good sanitation. Now, even the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ initiative to educate the girl child has gone from a social media campaign #SelfieWithDaughter, to the more cultural nukkad nataks.