India is popular for its desi nuskhe, the homemade solutions to health problems, but a trend that has persisted in India for the longest is people claiming and advertising to heal one from certain health or cosmetic disorders via drugs or cosmetic products.

Under the latest draft of the Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill, 2020, the disorders claimed to be cured along with the fine and jail sentence has been described along with the definition of "advertising" for the promotion of products claiming to heal the defined conditions.

The government of India has come forward and took a major step in the 2020's Union Budget as the health ministry has introduced a Bill in parliament which cracks down on advertisements promoting pharmaceutical products for fairness of skin, deafness, improvement of height, hair loss or greying, obesity, among 50+ other conditions and the punishment can be up to five years in jail, and a hefty fine of Rs 50 lakh.


Defining Advertisement

In section 2 and clause (a), the bill proposes to expand the current definition of advertisement. It defines "advertisement" as any audio or visual publicity, representation, endorsement or pronouncement made by means of light, sound, smoke, gas, print, electronic media, internet or website and includes any notice, circular, label, wrapper, invoice, banner, poster or such other documents:

In the digital era, the bill by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare proposes the amendment "in order to keep pace with changing time and technology" where it has included internet or website in the definition.

Defining "magic remedy'

The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisement) Act, 1954 defines "Magic Remedy' in the form of a talisman, mantra, kavacha, and any other charm of any kind which is alleged to possess miraculous powers for or in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment or prevention of any disease in human beings or animals or for affecting or influencing in any way the structure or any organic function of the body of human beings or animals.


Well, yes, in the current law, the first offence subjects to imprisonment up to six months, with or without a fine, and up to one year for a second-time conviction. In the new draft bill, the amendments are proposed to enhance the penalties where the first offence subjects to a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh and up to two years' imprisonment. In case of the subsequent conviction, imprisonment may extend to five years and the fine, up to Rs. 50 lakh.


Well, the Indian public has been brainwashed with the fairness advertisements for years about the description of "beauty" and the role it plays in their empowerment. As some ads continue to place a girl with air skin to get the job and not the dusky one, as they lack "confidence".

In a scenario where Indians still have the quest for light skin despite the booming conversation against it, with the bill being passed by the government that slaps a fine on misleading fairness cream ads is expected to bring a lot of change in the society.

Despite being a population which has a majority of dark-skinned people, Indian women and men have been, for decades, sharing a toxic relationship with fairness creams. As today, the population is getting educated and people have been sharing their opinions about the ad campaigns promoting lighten skin and shaping the thoughts of younger women to feel good about who they actually are and coloured, the legal action will be assisting the same thought process and ensure that brands fright to advertise something of same taste.

The bill proposal for the amendments responds to the Advertising Standards Council of India's long-standing concerns about misleading advertisements. The industry watchdog has been pointing out month after month about the advertisements that claim to cure asthma, cancer, diabetes, increased height, obesity and sexual performance among other health and cosmetic conditions.


The Drugs and Magic Remedies (Objectionable Advertisements) (Amendment) Bill intends to stop misleading ads claim to treat from 54 to 78 conditions.

The amendment of The Schedule includes under section 3(d) and 14 includes:

  1. AIDS
  2. Angina Pectoris
  3. Appendicitis
  4. Arteriosclerosis
  5. Blindness
  6. Blood poisoning
  7. Bronchial asthma
  8. Cancer
  9. Benign Tumor
  10. Cataract
  11. Change in colour of hair and growth of new hair
  12. Change of foetal sex by drugs
  13. Congenital malformations
  14. Deafness
  15. Diabetes
  16. Diseases and Disorders of the uterus
  17. Epileptic fits and psychiatric disorders
  18. Encephalitis
  19. Fairness of the skin
  20. Form and structure of the breast
  21. Gangrene
  22. Genetic disorders
  23. Glaucoma
  24. Goitre
  25. Hernia
  26. High/low blood pressure
  27. Hydrocele
  28. Insanity
  29. Increase in brain capacity and improvement of memory
  30. Improvement in height of children/adults
  31. Improvement in size and shape of the sexual organ and in the duration of sexual performance
  32. Improvement in the strength of the natural teeth
  33. Improvement in vision
  34. Jaundice/Hepatitis/Liver disorders
  35. Leukaemia
  36. Leucoderma
  37. Maintenance or improvement of the capacity of the human being for sexual pleasure
  38. Mental retardation, sub normalities and growth
  39. Myocardial infarction
  40. Obesity
  41. Paralysis
  42. Parkinsonism
  43. Piles and Fistulae
  44. Power to rejuvenate
  45. Premature ageing
  46. Premature greying of hair
  47. Rheumatic heart diseases
  48. Heart disease
  49. Sexual impotence, premature ejaculation and spermatorrhoea
  50. Spondylitis
  51. Stammering
  52. Stones in gall-bladder, kidney, bladder
  53. Varicose vein
  54. Bright's disease
  55. Diseases and Disorders of the brain
  56. Disorders of menstrual flow
  57. Disorders of the prostatic gland
  58. Dropsy
  59. Female diseases (in general)
  60. Hysteria
  61. Infantile paralysis
  62. Leprosy
  63. Lockjaw
  64. Locomotor ataxia
  65. 65.Lupus
  66. Plague
  67. Pleurisy
  68. Pneumonia
  69. Rheumatism
  70. Ruptures
  71. Smallpox
  72. Sterility in women
  73. Trachoma
  74. Tuberculosis
  75. Typhoid fever
  76. Ulcers of the gastrointestinal tract
  77. Venereal-diseases, including syphilis, gonorrhoea, soft chancre venereal granuloma and lymphogranuloma.
  78. Pyorrhea and sensitive teeth.

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