Tata Trusts shows that change is noble

It has taken up the plight of sanitation workers with a compelling video campaign.

MUMBAI: It’s a heart-moving video of a young boy on stage describing the everyday ordeal his sanitation worker-father goes through. As a spellbound audience watches, the boy sings the poem ‘Mera baba desh chalata hai’, even as the sanitation worker is shown toiling in the ghetto, cleaning the filth. What a compelling way to describe the oppressive conditions in which India’s sanitation workers toil. And it goes on to make the desired result of making a lasting impact on us. That is precisely what Tata Trusts seeks to achieve through his recent campaign ‘Mission Garima’.

The video stresses the need to provide humane working conditions to sanitation workers who keep our cities clean. The campaign, under the initiative called #TwoBinsLifeWins, urges citizens to segregate biodegradable and non-biodegradable waste to make sanitation workers life much easier.

On the inspiration behind launching this campaign, Tata Trusts head, brand and marketing communications Deepshikha Surendran says: “Research with both consumers and the sanitation workers showed that there is a realisation that our lives can be better, our behaviour can impact other people's lives. The inspiration came from the insight that the invisible man – the worker – needs as much respect and dignity as any other.”

In a multi-agency pitch held by Tata Trust two years ago which included the likes of Lowe Lintas and Mudra, FCB Ulka won the mandate for this campaign. The campaign was initiated a year ago with 15 people working from client servicing, creative’s department and close to 20 people from the production side including the crew, main cast and the DOP. After auditioning 150 people, the main protagonist for the video was finalised.

“Different creative agencies shared their thinking and approach. FCB Ulka had some sharp, emotional triggers to addressing the issue. Finally, the child's worldview captured through a poem; it was totally on the brief. Basta films, then, worked with the FCB team to bring it to life,” says Surendran.

According to Surendran, the recent campaigns that engage citizens to further brand purpose have shown positive results. The mission of segregating waste too can only be successful if the citizens are conscious and sensitive to driving change. Research reaffirmed the belief that consumers want to participate in social good, and that small but powerful nudges of communication can change behaviour. Hence, the campaign 'kyunki desh ko desh ka har aadmi chalata hai.'

FCB Ulka national creative director Keegan Pinto believes that there is a need to make people realise that everybody has the right to live with dignity. And when the narrative comes from a kid’s point of view, it makes it even more realistic.

He says: “I don’t think people in India and the world at large know the effects of this job. This is clearly the worst job on the planet. They also die early because they get infested by waste, filth and a whole galaxy of microorganism. The campaign #TwoBinsLifeWins is about the plight of sanitation workers. When the life expectancy of average Indians is 65, the same for the sanitation workers is around 50 to 52. They die early as compared to the rest of the Indians. We thought it will be more impactful if a child makes a plea and say ‘save my father from dying’. While we are giving the message of doing the right thing, we also have been conscious of not just showing his plight, but telling them that we are ashamed of not doing our share of work. What you do is a matter of pride because you are special. We cannot even think of doing what you do.”

Basta Films constructed the entire set as it was difficult to shoot in an actual surrounding considering the dangerous gases present in the sewer. The initial part of the film was shot at Mumbai’s Dharavi region. The classroom shot where the young boy is narrating the story of his father is filmed at Xavier’s College.

Basta Films director Divyansh Ganjoo says: “When you handle such a sensitive issue, conceptualisation is the biggest challenge because you have a huge responsibility while making such content. It required a lot of research because you cannot go and shoot just like that. Taking permission from BMC was difficult at times. We met sanitation workers to understand what they go through in their daily lives. This is the first visual imagery of what actually happens inside it. There were no references to it; we have to actually research to know how to make it more realistic.”

The campaign is promoted by Ratan Tata himself on his official social media handles. Under this initiation, Tata Trusts will provide free personal protective equipment or PPE set up at Kurla in Mumbai.

Surendran adds, “Tata Trusts, with support from the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), has developed a model ‘Garima Chowki’ at L-ward, Kurla, to provide suitable workplace amenities to the sanitation workers. The first-of-its-kind Chowki was launched in Kurla, on the same day as the campaign, in the presence of the Joint Municipal Commissioner Ashok Marathe. Chowkis are facilities in every ward where sanitation workers assemble to begin their day and come back to change and rest. The model Chowki at Kurla will serve 70 to 100 workers on a day-to-day basis and comprises office space, separate rooms for men and women staff with improved water and sanitation services, storage, and a functional open space. It is equipped with amenities like a water purification system, microwave oven and a gym, among other, recreational activities.”

Tata Trusts is also working with NGO partners and corporate houses to address health issues of the workers. This multi-pronged strategy will hopefully provide a holistic solution in the years to come.

On the upcoming marketing campaigns for Mission Garima, Surendran mentions: “The campaign has just begun and has already gone viral. Organic reach of this film is already in excess of 2 million views only from our platforms. We intend to boost the campaign with radio and cinema and complement the awareness drive with special housing society activation to help the adoption of waste segregation on a large scale. The teams are also extending the campaign to certain under-serviced pockets of the city where segregation is a challenge both from the perspective of a citizen and the worker. Below- the-line communication strategy with partners like Dialogue Factory has been piloted, and will soon be rolled out.”

Tata Trust believes the campaign and message is a critical pillar of ‘Mission Garima’ programme, and the role the citizen’s play in bringing dignity and eradicating the practice is huge.

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