India, the second-most populous nation and racing towards overtaking China, is cracking down on condom advertisements because they are considered "indecent" for children. The ministry of information and broadcasting has issued an advisory on Monday, 11 December, banning all condom advertisements from 6am to 10pm to avoid exposing children to the ads.
The government, led by right-wing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has warned there will be punishment if any of the 900-odd television channels violate the regulation.
"All TV channels are hereby advised not to telecast the advertisements of condoms which are (a) for particular age group and could be indecent for viewing by children," read the order. It also cited broadcasting regulations that came into force in 1994 which prohibit airing material containing "indecent, vulgar, suggestive, repulsive or offensive themes".
"Some channels carry ads of condoms repeatedly which are alleged to be indecent specially for children," added the notification.
The Indian government distributes free condoms under its community-based AIDS prevention programme.
Topics related to sex remain a taboo in India, which remains mostly conservative. Concerns have been raised that such restrictive measures will only reduce the much-needed awareness about the use of condoms. India currently has the third-highest number of HIV-infected people in the world.
Reacting to the government's decision, a spokesperson for the Raymond Group, which manufactures the iconic Kamasutra brand of condoms, said: "We follow the ASCI's Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI) code on advertising and subject ourselves to deep internal scrutiny."
"Indecent advertising whether from condom category or otherwise should be subjected to greater self-regulation."
India's condom market is estimated to be anywhere between 10bn (£116m) and 13bn rupees – relatively a less lucrative market considering the size of the population. Use of condoms saw a big push in the 1960s and 70s as part of the government's efforts to limit population growth.
Recent years have seen high-pressure marketing of condoms with many brands vying for a slice of the ever-expanding market.