India is full of ‘behavioural’ signs and a lot of them are useless


In the Netherlands, my home country, I have been criticizing government signs and communications for long. I even wrote a blog about it, with very straightforward and sarcastic posts about our government efforts to change our behaviour. In some area’s they did a good job, but more often it went wrong (in my view), or else: it’s was useless. Does it make sense to ask people to change their daily behaviour, without any incentive? I don’t think so. I’m a bit older now, and it feels as if I had become more mild in that sense. The reason? There is always ‘another side’ of a certain story and criticizing from the side-line feels a bit childish. Remember the phrase from the schooldays ‘Remember, I told you so’? I’m not like that anymore. However, I’m still a marketingprofessional and experienced in staging complex stories to a large audience. So, what about India? What’s my opinion about signs and government communications? Unfortunately, I’m not into politics in India, especially not on my blog. But I can share some views of signs that you will actually notice in daily life. Firstly, I want to start with a very common sign in cities in India: the ‘stick no bills’ sign. The meaning is very clear, no doubt about it: the local government don’t want you to fix your posters on that specific wall. So, what’s wrong with it? Actually not much. However, the phrase sounds a bit awkward, as there are many better ways to describe the directive order in English. And, funnily, a lot of times the sign is ignored, with a lot of posters from local vendors selling their stuff as a result. If you on the net, you will find hundreds of funny signs. One of my favourite is the ‘Restricted area for dead bodies’ sign. And what about this one: ‘After whisky, driving risky’. The most famous sign or order is the ‘Horn please’ sign at the rear side of trucks, often followed by ‘ok’. If you have never been to India there is a thing that I need to explain and you would immediately understand why this sign is very funny. If you travel on roads in India, it looks as if every driver – two-wheelers, trucks, cars, auto-rickshaw, goods carriers – constantly horns. The horning lost its point completely, because nobody is paying any attention if you use it. They horn without noticing, it has become a subconscious habit and therefore very useless to ask people to horn: they will do! It’s easy to laugh about these government signs and I sometimes do, but it is also one of the reasons why I love India so much. It’s so colourful (and on roads sometimes so noisy…).

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