chapter  12
16 Pages

Creating a consumer

Exploring medical advertisements in colonial India *
WithMadhuri Sharma

The colonial context saw the emergence of the print media that disseminated new kinds of information about health, hygiene and medicine to an eagerly receptive public. In fact, advertisements were a particularly active agency that created a consumer for medical products and services across a variety of medical systems. The incorporation of English terminologies like ‘milk food’ was intended to create an English sensibility among consumers. The Indian drug manufacturers of allopathic or indigenous medicine tried various methods to tighten their grip on Indian consumers. Indian entrepreneurs employed salespersons who attracted the attention of the people through songs or tunes that drew upon oral traditions. The inclusion of words and terminologies like ‘Ram/Suleiman’ and ‘swadeshi’ or ‘desi’ helped to generate religious identities and appeal to Indian sensibilities. The effort was to make the consumers feel that they were buying an indigenous Indian product, prepared with locally available raw materials.