Purba Ray
Guest Article

Advertising in the time of Covid - if the juice you’re drinking is not building immunity, does it even deserve to exist?

If the packaged noodles you’re consuming is not making you invincible, it is expected to walk towards the sunset with its head hung in shame...

It’s raining immunity. Be it supplements, superfoods or world pariah but India’s favourite - homeopathy. If you’re not brewing a ‘kadha’ with 26 herbs whose names you cannot pronounce, you are a disgrace to WhatsApp university. Everyone including your Kaku, Kakima and a Mashi who’s related to you by satellite is now dispensing gyaan on how to give Covid the minority treatment and show it its true place.

Yes, Covid is in the air and is showing no signs of ghar wapsi. The only way to beat it is through ancient wisdom that brought a severely wounded Lakshman to life. Till we find the miraculous Sanjeevni booti, we will continue to consume a mountain of unverified remedies.

And why not? We are desperate to survive this pandemic with our heart and lungs intact. Since even WHO is as clueless about this virus as we are about Sushant Rajput’s death, we will continue to embrace ‘fake news’ and do Covid right.

Purba Ray
Purba Ray

Ever since the Coronavirus storm locked us up inside our homes, our friendly neighbourhood brands started to think of ingenious ways to worm themselves into our sparse pockets. They didn’t waste much time to latch on to our newfound obsession for a robust immune system. Mental and physical health be damned!

Thanks to their diligence we are spoilt for choice. Do I have Haldi ice-cream or should I settle for immunity sondesh tonight and stay Covid safe!

The transition was slow but steady. While the world was falling apart thanks to this pandemic brought to you by an innocent bat, we started fetishizing about the medical history and geography of anyone who dared crossed our path. It started with our delivery agents. We were now privy to their body temperature, interests, last porn watched before they could cross the Lakshman Rekha.

It has now become the moral duty of every product we consume to be clean, hygienic as if their life depends on it. If the packaged noodles you’re consuming is not making you invincible, it is expected to walk towards the sunset with its head hung in shame.

The madness had begun. As usual our much revered elected were the first ones to take the lead. Since science and medicine is a mere inconvenience, they had us convinced the virus was a Bangladeshi who’d flee after hearing chants of “go Corona go.” We beat thaalis. Lit diyas, yet Corona didn’t go and neither did the theatrics of the absurd. Strangely despite the tried and tasted superpowers of gaumutra, Patanjali’s Coronil and ‘Bhabhiji pappad’ with a side of rum and eggs, our ministers chose modern medicine and super-speciality hospitals when they themselves tested positive for Covid, running up astronomical bills that taxpayer money will settle.

Since the common man does not have the luxury of top of the line healthcare, their only hope is Corona fighter khakra, chywanprash flavoured ice-creams, anti-corona shirt and other miscellaneous miracles.

I am sure a few of us will be able to sleep better on an anti-corona mattress safe in the delusion that coming to work in Siyaram will make us invincible. Sadly, these claims are as false and deceptive as the promises your neta makes during elections. No woman has been able to transform her cactus-like hair into silky splendour with just a shampoo. No child has become tall because he glugs health drinks every morning. And the same holds true for your Chywanprash ice cream that claims to vanquish Covid for you.

Even regulatory authorities are as unimpressed with these lofty, fictitious claims that read more like a Tinder profile. They have started tightening rules on more recent products brandishing the immunity mantra. The Drug Controller General of India has served a show-cause notice on Hindustan Unilever over its misleading advertisement of Lifebuoy soap, which claims that it has anti-Covid therapeutic properties.

But our Covid marketeers refuse to give up. They are as passionate about capitalising on this human crisis as they are about excavating obscure herbs and cures recommended by Rama’s physician.

And our gullibility fertilised by fear, stubborn lack of awareness is lapping it up. Of course, we are all desperate to keep our families safe. With the vaccine still months away and the horror stories about the permanent damage this virus can cause to our organs, we have embraced pseudo-science and are celebrating Russia’s untested Covid vaccine.

Bhai bahut ho gaya! Aab mujhe Goa mein party karna hai aur piss drunk hona hai.

Here, have a slice of immuno bread with peanut butter enriched with shunti, guggul, chitrak, kali mirch with a side of desperation. After all who has time to build immunity the old-fashioned way - with clean eating and healthy living. We all have a zoom call to attend while we mope about our miserable lives.

(Nearly funny. Almost liberal. Rarely serious. Purba Ray, columnist for Arré and The Quint, likes to keep a safe distance from perfection as she opines on every damn thing. She tweets from the handle Ray Stings.)