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Saturday, 29 January 2011

Should advertising aimed at children be banned?

courtesy: debatbase

A great deal of advertising on television is aimed at children, promoting not only toys and sweets but also products such as food, drink, music, films and clothing to young consumers from toddlers to teenagers. Increasingly, this practice is coming under criticism from parents’ organisations, politicians and pressure groups in many countries. Many western countries have currently imposed national restrictions, and these have also been proposed in most other European Union countries and in the USA.


Many people consider that it is unethical to target children with advertisements, as they are not yet able to distinguish advertising from actual programming in the way adults can. This would mean that advertising aimed at children is misleading and unfair. It is also clearly effective, or else, advertisers would not spend such huge amounts of money each year targeting children who are not able to resist their sales pitch.

Advertising specifically to children is unethical because parents are forced to buy products for them as they scarcely have any money of their own. Rather than advertising directly to parents, companies use a "nag and whine" campaign that leads to bad feeling between parents and children.  For example, children pester adults to spend money, on unnecessary toys, which their children may play with, only for a few hours. Moreover, advertising which presents products to children as if they are necessary to them is also creates social divisions. It creates an inferior feeling in children, whose parents cannot afford them, resulting in frustration and inadequacy, as well as leading families into debt.
Again, advertising aimed at children can also lead to negative social consequences, as a substantial portion of it is for food and drinks that are very unhealthy. Encouraging vulnerable children to consume great amounts of fatty, sugary and salty food is unethical because it would create obese, unhealthy youngsters, with bad eating habits that will last for a lifetime. Society also has to pay a high price in terms of the extra medical care such children will eventually require.  Therefore, the government has a direct interest in preventing advertisements which contribute to this problem.

Furthermore, companies increasingly indulge in exploitative marketing campaigns that ruthlessly target children. To exemplify, in many developed countries marketing companies offer schools free televisions in exchange for their students being forced to watch a certain amount of programming and advertisements each day, and selling marketing data on those children. It is time that childhood was protected from such commercialisation.

Exploitative advertising brainwashes children into becoming eager consumers. Multinational companies deliberately encourage them to be materialistic, and as a result, they associate happiness with purchasing power and the possession of particular goods. A study recently found that children in Sweden, where marketing campaigns to the under-12s are banned, wanted significantly fewer toys than children in Britain, where there are no restrictions.

Finally, restricting advertising a little will not make much difference to revenues of commercial broadcasters, and they can be regulated to ensure that they continue to offer a good standard of children’s programming.


Children are not naive or innocent, but canny consumers who can distinguish between advertisements and programmes, and understand that advertisements can be misleading. This essential learning process is actually developed through exposure to advertisements. It is also assisted by responsible parenting that does not just dump children down in front of the television, but spends some time watching with them and discussing what is seen.

Advertising hardly has any magical power to create unnatural desires for material possessions. Children who nag are result of bad parenting. The problem of poor parenting and undisciplined children cannot be solved by banning advertising, as children have many influences upon them which can stimulate their desires for products like toys, sweets and other entertainments.  For example, in many cases friends can be the most influencing forces on them. It is also untrue that children have no spending power of their own, as many children under 12 receive pocket money and teenagers are often able to earn a certain amount of money for themselves.  Learning to manage money is part of growing up, and advertisements help them to choose from the vast ocean of children’s products.

Children naturally like foods that are rich in fats, proteins and sugar.  They give them the energy they need to play actively and grow healthily. It is true that eating an excess amount of such foods is bad for children, but this is again a problem of bad parenting rather than the fault of advertising.  And of course, if advertising to children is banned, then governments will not be able to use this means of promoting healthy eating, road safety, hygiene, and other socially useful messages.

Even if television advertising aimed at children is banned, children are also exposed to radio, cinema, the internet and billboards in the street.
Perhaps, companies should also be banned from sponsoring entertainment and sporting events for children, and prevented from providing free branded resources for schools. On the other hand, it is impossible to enforce any restriction, as television is increasingly broadcast by satellites across national borders and cannot easily be controlled.  So is the case with the internet.
Banning advertisements is a severe restriction upon freedom of speech. Companies should be able to inform the public about any legal products, or innovation.  If it is restricted, new companies will find it hard to market their products successfully in the face of established rivals. Children also have a human right to receive information from a wide range of sources and arrive at their own decisions about them. They are far from being brainwashed by advertisements, which form only a small part of their experiences.  Family, friends and school are much more important and all give them alternative views of the world.

Advertisements are the means by which most television stations are funded. If advertising to children is banned, then broadcasters will stop showing children’s programmes, or greatly reduce their quality and quantity, which is clearly not in the public interest. State broadcasters funded by the government and subscription channels that are also not dependent upon advertising revenue would welcome such restrictions on children’s programming.  As competition is the best means of improving choice, diversity and quality, their views on this issue should be disregarded. Advertising not only benefits commercial broadcasters, bust also consumers.  For example, children’s magazines are sold at an affordable price as they rely upon advertising to cut the cost. 

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Kalyani, the Fishmonger!

Kalyani was a fishmonger , who sold fish by the merit of her destiny and the obligation of her caste. She moved along the streets like an inevitable organ of the lifeline of the village.

When she first came home, her hair had already grayed and been loosely tied into a drooping ponytail with an elastic band. It was a sunny afternoon and she came round the house to the backyard, and cast a smile at the suspecting frown of my mother.

Her perspiring face gleamed with expectation as my mother mellowed down, and she let her fish basket lower on the kitchen veranda. She sat by the side, and lifted the loose plastic sheet that exposed the slithering catfish.

"Oh, this is small", my mother frowned again.
Kalyani thrust her fingers carefully, and lifted a few big ones that slid in her hands.
"Get me the pan; I will give you the bigger ones."
"the price?." my mother insisted.
"Don't bother, I will give it you cheap, get me the pan."

Kalayni emptied the whole basket into the pan and affirmed, "This is only two kilos; I will scale it for you. Where is the knife?"
My mother wanted to say 'no' but she ended up saying this,
"Don't ask me too much money. I will not give you."

Kalyani smiled with the warm authority of an insider, and started talking about other things. Her fingers skilfully toyed with the wriggling fish and my mother leaned against the door and watched. She spoke, as she cleaned fish, about the virtuous people of the households she frequented. She opened her tiny folder-wallet and pulled out photographs of children of her favourite families.

On that day, she stayed long enough until she cooked fish, had her lunch and afternoon siesta. When she left home, in the evening we knew that it was the beginning of a lifelong relationship with an extraordinary human being, who sold fish and walked into our hearts.

During the long summer school vacation, when village children threw stones at mango trees laden with huge bunches of the fruit, Kalayni walked through lanes, alleys and tarred roads. When her frail figure, garbed in her customary white dhoti and jumper, emerged in the distance, they waited for her, dropping the stones aimed at mangoes. The bolder ones would stealthily walk behind her and would make sniffing noises to mock her, expelling the odour of fish heavily through their nose rills. Kalyani would, in a fitful rage, would pick up handful of little pebbles and chase them. That was always enough to send the little scoundrels to run for cover behind laterite walls and wild hedges. Kalyani mumbled words of disapproval that nobody could ever here and walked away.


Ever since the fishmonger descended on us with a hearty pressure sale, she frequented our household, and after the initial wrangling with my mother, would settle into her normal business with ease. She sliced fish, rolled the grinding stone over red chilly and grated coconut for the marinating paste and cooked it with rich and spicy gravy.


In the afternoon hours, she sat on an uncushioned plastic chair reading the newspaper softly, close to my mother, who would soon snooze off in the coir woven cot. Then Kalyani would spread her customary frayed palm mat on the floor and follow suit and their gentle snores blended into the warmth of the summer afternoon breeze.


When the breeze grew and broke the twigs from the drying ends of rubber trees all around the house, Kalyani would rise to her feet and walk out of the house. She would pick them all and heap them up in the corner of the kitchen veranda.


She then had a reason to wake my mother up, "I've got them all here. The pickers would have pounced on them now. We wouldn't get a piece to put in the stove. Why do you let people hang around the yard?" Then the usual business commenced again. Kalyani lit the fire and made coffee, very strong, for her and my mother. Sipping the hot liquid she would let her words travel through the lingering memories of her childhood. She would talk about a time when goodness prevailed in every heart and every household.


It was time to go. She picked up her basket, walked away down the flight of steps into the green paddy field and disappeared through the ridges. When she left, a gentle breeze followed guarding her from all ills of men.

Friday, 21 January 2011

Essay 29 (Non-essential Flights)

A long distance flight consumes as much fuel as a car consumes in several years time, and causes the same amount of pollution as cars. So some people think we should abandon non essential flights (such as for tourism), and it is more efficient than restricting the car. To what extent do you agree or disagree?

Although long distance flights exhaust much greater amount of fuel as compared to cars, banning non essential flights is no better way to control pollution than limiting the number of cars.

In the first place, although an individual flight may cause much more damage to the environment as compared to a car that travels the same distance, the total pollution caused by the increasing number of cars is much greater. For example, millions of new cars are crowding the streets every day and their numbers seem to be soaring, even in developing countries like India. The amount of pollution that they cause can, no way, be compared to much fewer non-essential flights used for tourism, business and private use. Hence, abandoning such flights cannot be effective in minimising the impacts of pollution. Whereas, considering the enormous damage caused to the environment by millions of new cars, their usage should be limited.

Moreover, many people make use of private chartered flights because of the non-availability of seats in regular flights especially when large groups of people travel together for the purpose of tourism or business. For example, during peak tourist seasons regular flights are often heavily booked and charted aircrafts are the only way to tide over the crisis. So is the case with businessmen, who travel on short notice. This would mean that banning the so-called nonessential flights would hamper the development of business and tourism, apart from not being an effective way to control pollution. On the other hand, if government can limit the use of private cars, many people can depend on the public transport system, which would substantially reduce environmental damage.

In conclusion, controlling the use of cars is a much better way to fight pollutions than restricting a few non-essential flights.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Essay Questions

Some people think that traditional culture can be destroyed by using it as money making attractions to tourists. However, others believe that it is the only way to save traditions. How far do you agree with the latter opinion?

Food can be produced much more cheaply, because of the improved fertilizers and better machinery. However, some methods may be dangerous for human health, and have negative effects on local communities. To what extent do you think that its advantages outweigh disadvantages?

Some people think that national sports team and individual sports person who represent their country should be financially supported by the government. However, some people believe they should be funded by non-government organisations (e.g. Business Scholarship). What is your opinion?

A long distance flight consumes the fuel as much as a car consumes in several years time, and causes the same amount of pollution as cars. So some people think we should abandon non essential flights (such as for tourism), and it is more efficient than restricting the car. Discuss.

There is argument about whether students should study in groups or on their own. Compare the benefits of each study method. Which do you think is more effective?

Air transport is increasingly used to export fruits and vegetables where they cannot be grown or are out of season. Some people believe that this is good thing, but others consider this use of air transport can't be justified. Discuss both views and give your own opinion.

Statistics suggest that nowadays an increasing number of crimes are committed by the young people. What are its causes and how can we solve this problem?

Some people prefer to provide help and support to those people who need it in local communities directly. However, some people prefer to give money to nation and international charitable organisations. Discuss both the views and give your reasons.

We cannot get knowledge from news, but some people think we can't trust journalists. What do you think of the credibility of news these days? What qualities should a journalist have?

Leisure is a growing industry. Nowadays, more modern technology is used in entertainment, which may lead people to be less creative. Do you agree or disagree?

Now People possible perform everyday tasks such as banking, shopping, business and transactions without meeting each other face-to-face. What are the possible effect on the both the individual and the society?

Some people say the best what to solve the environmental problems is to raise the price of fuel. To what extent do you agree or disagree?



Sunday, 9 January 2011

These days everyone seems to have more and more possessions (e.g.: computers, cars, mobile phones etc.).  Our strong desire to own these things is making us less aware of important personal qualities such as kindness and concern for other.

Do you agree or disagree?

The economic freedom people enjoy today has enabled them to own large number of material possessions like cars, computers and other electronic gadgets.  However, the desire to possess these objects has not necessarily affected people's personal values, in terms of concern for others or being kind.

There have been many instances, especially in the western world, where people spend their money, time and other resources to serve the less privileged in the society, in spite of their material way of life.  For example, Bill Gates, the owner of Microsoft, donates a substantial portion of his earnings for charitable activities like AIDS prevention and treatment in many developing countries in Asia and Africa.  He owns luxurious cars, air-crafts and many other possessions but that has not prevented him from being kind and considerate towards the needy.

Again, there is a growing awareness among people especially among the rich, about their moral responsibilities towards the society.  One of the major reasons for this attitude may be man's realisation that fulfillment in life is not possible only by owning a large number of material objects or leading a luxurious life.  Moreover, the moral qualities like kindness and concern for others are innate in every human being and it cannot be easily suppressed by the increasing ownership of material possessions. 

However, there are certain people who may be unmindful of important personal qualities, in their quest for a material way of life.  In spite of such tendencies in society, religious organisations, charity institutions and philanthropic groups are constantly reminding people about their responsibilities towards the society. 

In conclusion, man's desire to enjoy the comforts and conveniences of modern inventions has not seriously eroded his personal values.
Subjects such as Art, Sport and Music are being dropped from the school curriculum for subjects such as Information Technology. Many people children suffer as a result of these changes. To what extent would you support or reject the idea of moving these subjects from school curriculum?

Subjects like art, sport and music nurture the talents and creativity of students in school. Removing such subjects from the curriculum would definitely have a negative impact on the physical and psychological development of children of that age group. Hence, I would completely object to(reject) the idea of removing these subjects, even if it is to fit in important subjects like Information Technology.

Firstly, the purpose of education is not only to develop the academic ability of students but also to nurture their creative talents and sporting abilities, leading to the comprehensive growth of the personality of an individual. If the above disciplines are removed from school syllabus in order to accommodate new subjects, the real purpose of education would be defeated and it would be limited to academic pursuits alone. For example, if schools do not give opportunity to children who are gifted in music, dance and sports to develop their skills, it would certainly stunt the inborn talents. Apart from school hours, they hardly get a chance to engage in such activities. Hence, school authorities should ensure that sufficient time is given to sport, arts and related activities, in spite of the pressure from new subjects.

Secondly, if school hours are completed packed with academic subjects children would hardly get time to refresh their mind. This would mean that creative and recreational activities like music and sports would give them time to unload their pressures of academic studies and examinations. Furthermore, the opportunity to engage in activities of their interest would make education an enjoyable experience for children. For instance, most children are delighted in participating in sports after tedious hours of academic studies. It would also rejuvenate their minds and help them to get back to their studies.

Finally, the study of academic subjects hardly gives any room for developing socialisation skills, team work and leadership qualities. Children acquire such attributes by participating in extracurricular activities. To cite an instance, a team sport like soccer or a musical concert would help children to coordinate team activities and take up leadership.

On the other hand, there are people who argue that there is no harm in dropping extracurricular activities in order to find space for new subjects like information technology. They contend that these new subjects are inevitable for children to develop their academic careers and they should find time apart from school hours to engage in non-academic pursuits. However, this reasoning does not seem to be very convincing as much of after-school hours are packed with home work or other academic projects. Apart from that, facilities and opportunities for such activities are very limited away from school.

In conclusion, school authorities should find a suitable way to fit in subjects like information technology, without downplaying the importance of arts and sports.

(Words in italics are examples of the 'skill of cohesion' and words in bold letters are to be studied as part of 'vocabulary'. Structures given in both italics and bold letters require special attention from students.)