Monday Matchbox 14.11.11
In 1954 the United Nations General Assembly established November 20th as Universal Children’s Day to create awareness about and to generate proactive action for the welfare of children across the world. The same date marked the UN’s adoption of the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention of the Rights of the Child in 1989. Although this date has acquired some significance in the development of child welfare, in addition to Universal Children’s Day, many countries continue to celebrate Children’s Day on different dates. In India, the date is marked by the birth anniversary of Jawaharlal Nehru (November 14). Better known as a statesman and India’s first Prime Minister, he was also known for his love for children and his belief that their welfare was essential to the development of the country.
Few children (and fictitious ones at that) are as well known in India as the Parle G, Nirma and Amul girls. (I am pretty sure readers are humming one of the three jingles as they read this). All three successfully competed with multinational brands to establish themselves as ‘Indian brands’, a new kind of ‘Swadeshi’, if you will. Parle G is probably one of the most known biscuits across the country; everyone has, I am sure, had them as snacks or even as a meal sometimes. While the packaging for these biscuits has evolved over the years, the visual on it has changed very little. The never ageing little girl and the yellow background have become an icon in our visual culture. But no matter how cheap or accessible a product already is, it always spawns duplicates. While in Pipariya, Madhya Pradesh, I have seen two different versions of Parle G being sold in the same shop, neither were the original.The packaging and names of these duplicates are so identical that it is often very hard to spot the difference unless one is paying attention.
Like the Mother India matchbox, the visual on this matchbox is a crossing over of one medium onto another- a popular package design on a matchbox. Evidently, riding on borrowed fame goes beyond just similar products.
Parle Safety Matches
Vijaya Match Works, Kovilpatti
A self-confessed junk collector, a greater part of Shreyas’s collection of printed ephemera consists of matchboxes. With Monday Matchbox, she talks about a matchbox (from her collection, or elsewhere) and its place in our visual culture.