Shaping Demand and Practices developed the concept of ‘Chaar Gaanth’ (Four Knots) as a mnemonic, to help people remember four important things to do when they have news of a pregnancy.

It uses the act of tying a knot in a gamchha – a piece of clothing worn by men – to remind oneself of a task.

The tasks to remember

The four tasks are: registering the pregnancy, saving money for delivery expenses, identifying an institution where the delivery will take place, and arranging for transport to the institution at the appropriate time. All four planning steps reduce the last-minute stress of a birth and, above all, ensure the safety of mother and child.

The televised advertisement for ‘Chaar Gaanth’ is set in a village meeting. A young man is addressing the gathering on the subject of how robots are now performing household tasks for humans.

The forbidding village headman interrupts to ask why he hasn’t yet tied knots in his scarf for his pregnant wife, and whether he thinks that a robot will do this too. A bit of public chastisement, and lots of other men jumping in to wave their own knotted scarves, helps the young man get his priorities right.

Sharing the responsibility

Shaping Demand and Practices sees planning for a birth as a team activity involving not just the expectant couple, but as much of the community as necessary.

The advertisement involves the whole community. It implies that planning for a birth is an important responsibility of which everyone should be aware, and that people think poorly of a man who does not fulfil it.

The community’s general familiarity with ‘Chaar Gaanth’ in the ad implies that it works, to help families prepare for a safe birth and hedge against emergencies. Also, importantly, it implies that planning for a birth is as normal and necessary as planning for a harvest, or a religious ritual, which rural communities do as a matter of course.

The television advertising campaign is aimed at communities who have access to media. Communities that don’t are supported by thousands of street theatre performances with the same theme.

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