My first editorial, so gentle hands there…

By the magical powers vested in the hands of the water administrators in India, if they tasked me with the responsibility of coming up with a campaign to promote conservation practices in India and increase awareness, this is how I would go about the program.  Here’s is my five-step process for successful implementation of a water conservation program in India.

  1. Cool is IN – The first and fore most thing to do is make Water Conservation a cool buzzword.  Don’t promote it as a regulatory requirement or compliance or a social obligation.  Don’t guilt trip people into conserving water.  Take the Water Conservation program to the next century and promote it as the coolest thing ever.  You conserve water coz that is what all the cool kidz are doing these days and too bad you haven’t caught onto that mania yet!  So 20th century…
  2. Aww. My.. Gawd Syndrome – Get the coolest celebrity/celebrities to endorse it.  Don’t go for the responsible, the safe, the boring, the serious, or even the rich ones.  Go for the zaniest ones, the crazy ones, the hip ones, the wacky ones and have them endorse this.  The younger the celebrity the better.  The more they know how to play cricket the better, coz let’s get real, every one worships cricketers.  Imagine this, Mr. Hot-Mess Cricketer raises his bat after his 50 runs and what do you see on his bat?  “I conserve baby!!”
  3. Hoard the Boards – To me, bill boards are the most effective mode of communication.  First thing is, most people travel in India so people will look at bill boards one way or another.  You are mostly idle when you are traveling, either bored and focused on your steering wheel or bored and sitting in public transportation.  Either way, your brain is idle.  A strategically placed bill board(s) gets the point across.  Now, here is where it gets fun.  Color outside the lines, get very tongue-in-cheek with the bill boards and get creative.  Keep revitalizing and updating the message.  Case in point – Amul Butter has this amazing bill board campaign where they come up with cool parodies for current events in India.  The parodies are both funny and very clever and that product is etched in my brain because of the ad campaign.  So, think outside the board!!
  4. Money Hai Toh – Let’s get real.  We are a Jugaad Nation.  We are the conservation tigers, provided we are given the right motivation.  Everyone gets motivated by rewards and remunerations.  Even though we know it is the right thing to do, sometimes money and rewards are the easiest tools of motivation.  Develop a program of rewards and remunerations.  X rupees reduced off your water bill for Y gallons of water conserved.  Z rupees returned to you for installing ABC product etc…
  5. Get them Fresh – Nothing else motivates families (parents, grandparents)  into participating in social campaigns like the guilt induced by the kids in the household.  Move your campaign to schools, create a national conservation mascot that is kid-friendly and create a sob story around conserving water to save the mascot.  Distribute conserve water stickers, mascot soft toys, brain wash the kids that conservation is the right thing to do.  Collaborate with the local NGOs, religious preachers, daily soaps and other partners so the message comes through unified from all corners.

I do not claim the intellectual property of the pointers listed here.  I am merely listing out successful measures that worked at others places and how those could be implemented in an Indian culture.  I will follow up this editorial with another one on “How to Sustain a Conservation Program.!”