Good that celebs are raising funds, but can they raise their voice too?
Is raising funds the only way celebrities can help? How about raising their voice for a change and asking tough questions about thousands of crores being sunk by govt into the Central Vista project?
Even as Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli’s Covid relief ketto fundraiser “We are #InThisTogether” raised Rs 5,25,02,638 of its Rs 7,00,00,000 goal with three days to spare, the effort of the celebrity couple was greeted with cynicism.
The funds from the campaign go to ACT Grants for tackling oxygen shortage. “Their goal is to support the deployment of oxygen solutions, including concentrators and oxygen plants to hospitals across India…,” states the fundraiser page. Then why have any issues with it?
Is it because of people’s intrinsic “negativity” as the RSS would like us to believe or is it the sheer habit of compulsive trolling?
The scepticism possibly stem from pent-up anger against celebrities at large—their silence and denial of the crisis while IPL played on despite the dance of death-- and now a sudden turnaround by some, an abrupt show of concern and conscience; it looks like a damage control exercise, a course correction in image management.
Also, Indian celebs seem to have discovered the fundraiser platform a trifle too late in the day, after it has been put to good use by lesser mortals. By the time the celebs came out and started asking people to contribute, a friend of mine, after raising money for several COVID-related emergencies had started yet another drive, this time aimed at creating a fund entirely for the crematorium workers, the often-overlooked foot soldiers helping us cope with the deadly disease.
Of course, the money raised by my friend would be miniscule in comparison. Of course, there can be no argument about raising funds for a critical cause at any time. But it still feels a tad too rich for celebs to appeal to citizens for donation at a time when they have been left to fend for themselves. For every Rs 2 crore donated by a celebrity, someone somewhere would have already given away Rs 500 from his or her salary of Rs 5000 a month. Hence the scepticism.
Also, if celebs have amassed several hundred crores of net worth (however notional it might be) by endorsing brands, good sense says that they should reach out to sponsors directly for significant charity.
Also, at a time when trust in government has hit rock bottom, optics matter. A Rs 1 crore contribution of Akshay Kumar to Gautam Gambhir’s foundation is bound to meet with raised eyebrows. As would any donation to the baffling PM CARES fund.
On the flip side there’s the implicit trust that Amitabh Bachchan’s Rs 2 crore donation to the Guru Teg Bahadur Covid care centre would be utilized well. It’s the same with Huma Qureshi, who is leading from the front to build a 100-bed temporary hospital facility in Delhi with an oxygen plant attached. It has got international celebrities like Zack Synder and Riz Ahmed on board to amplify the message.
Just as Priyanka Chopra has been galvanizing global support at her end for a few weeks now for her #TogetherForIndia initiative launched with Nick Jonas for the nonprofit Give India.
Is raising funds the only way celebrities can help?
How about raising their voice for a change and asking tough questions about thousands of crores being sunk by this regime into the Central Vista project? Why not ask for those funds to be diverted for COVID relief? How about raising their voice to ask for transparency from the PM Cares fund to which they themselves contributed last year and might be continuing to do so?