Rich Celebrities vs. Individual Struggles for the Protection of Society

BY TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 15 May 2017

Dr Ravi P Bhatia – TRANSCEND Media Service

15 May 2017 – The social media is full of photographs of celebrities — so called icons or heroes. Earlier only the newspapers informed us what these icons were doing – what films they were acting in or what projects featuring them were to be launched. Today the social media consisting of TV, internet and street hoardings show photographs of the various products that these celebrities endorse. These products could be expensive watches or smart phones or underwear or special creams that are supposed to remove scars and lighten the complexion of men or women. These icons would also be endorsing various types of household items such as refrigerators, ACs, water purifiers and sundry other items such as expensive cars, SUVs, bikes or even bicycles.

Why do we need the endorsement of these products? Another question:  when these films stars or cricketers or   celebrities endorse a product and appear on hoardings or newspapers etc, they charge a heavy fee. That fee obviously goes to increase the price of whatever product we buy. Does the price increase by 25% or more?

Then there is a former cricketer in India who has got all the awards that are possible including the highest civilian award Bharat Ratna and has been nominated to the Indian Parliament. Since this cricketer is so busy selling various products he has no time to attend the meetings of the Parliament.  Why should we buy products endorsed by him?  In fact we should boycott these products. Of course there are others of his ilk. We have an ageless mega star who is not only selling various products but can be seen to be sometimes dancing to make the product familiar and saleable.

I have another thought: Why does nature bestow love and popularity on a few persons to the extent that they get. Is it because of their past karmas? What have they done in their past lives that they get all the attention and the money that they get? Yes, they entertain people for whom they get tons of money and even occasional hero worship. This is in contrast to the millions of people who suffer from lack of food and healthcare and all the requirements that are essential for survival of a decent life. There are millions of children who are malnourished and stunted both in body and mentally. There are millions of women who are victimized in one way or another and receive violence and humiliation. Why should there be such a diversity of fortune (for a handful of people) or lack of fortune for the millions of suffering people?

According to a report of the WHO of Feb 2017, out of 322 million people suffering from depression worldwide, the number of Indians in this list is a staggering 50 million. There are several factors behind this depressing situation: farmers whose crops have failed, women who are thrown out of their homes and face humiliation, children whose fathers have been killed or abandoned their families.

Who will answer these disparities?

Many rich people – both men and women, young and not so young crave for popularity. It may be in the form of appearing on the social media – TV or FB or on hoardings or in the newspapers etc. In fact several newspapers have a special section devoted to the celebrities gracing various fashionable do’s (events) and print their photos. Sometimes it is alleged that people themselves pay some money to these newspapers for printing their photographs – paid news as it is called. This publicity may be only momentary but apparently it is sufficient to satisfy the egos of these personalities.

In contrast there are the millions of ordinary people who work hard, who contribute to the society in one way or another. These may be farmers, industrial workers or the police or the soldiers who guard our country against terrorist activities across our borders or internal insurgencies etc. Sometime ordinary people do some good on the spur of the moment unconsciously and without pre meditation.

Recently, I read an account of a policeman who shot at a man who was trying to rob a woman of her purse. The man was hurt and started bleeding. Can you believe what happened afterwards? The policeman and his colleague rushed the man to a nearby hospital by which time the man had lost a lot of blood and needed blood transfusion.  The policeman who had shot at this man and his colleague volunteered to donate blood to this man and thereby saved his life. Of course he was subsequently arrested and charged with trying to steal and criminal charges were filed against him.

Another good story: An Indian environmentalist, Prafulla Samantara, has been recently awarded a Green Nobel for his work on the protection of the hills against mining of bauxite. He tirelessly worked for the protection of the indigenous Dongria Kondh’s land rights and protected the Niyamgiri hills from a massive, open-pit aluminum-ore mine to be constructed by a private mining company Vedanta Resources. To the local people, these Niyamgiri hills are sacred and they consider themselves to be its protectors.

So we have contrasting situations. On one hand we have the celebrities hogging limelight in the social media and public hoardings, selling one product or another; on the other hand we have millions of people suffering from hunger, disease, indebtedness, unemployment and violence of various types. A third category – a minuscule one — the so called do-gooders who work for the betterment of the society in one way or another. We also have the religious gurus who talk about religion and spirituality, who are kind and loving and thereby bring solace and hope to the millions of people suffering from poverty, injustice and victimization.

Life and society are complex and unfathomable. So are the people who react to these complexities in one way or another. Some elevate the society, some elevate themselves.

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Dr Ravi P Bhatia is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment, an educationist and peace researcher. Retired professor, Delhi University.  ravipbhatia@gmail.com

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 15 May 2017.

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