Why would the gorgeous George Clooney, he of the Ocean’s 11, 12 and 13 fame come jetting all the way to distant Delhi when he has his hands full of work in Hollywood? The answer is that he came because the Indians are the largest peace-keeping contingent in Sudan where Clooney has been espousing the cause of the victims of Darfur. A distant, dusty benighted place that would hardly be on our radar had it not been for the efforts of people like Clooney. Putting violence-torn Sierra Leone back in the world’s consciousness now is football superstar David Beckham, who has taken time off from his schedule to knock a few balls about in Freetown with the local lads. And, of course, we have the pillow-lipped Angelina Jolie who has been jetting around the world as Unicef’s ambassador. Adding to the list of goodwill ambassadors are the elegant Nicole Kidman, Danny Glover, Richard Gere and original rock’n’rollers Bob Geldof and Bono.
Now some might sneer and say that these celebrities are doing this for publicity. Maybe. But if anyone takes time off from their lucrative careers to trudge amid the dust and heat of forgotten lands and forgotten people to raise awareness about terrifying wars and deadly diseases, more power to their elbow. Whatever be their motives, let’s face it, they are doing a great public service. If Darfur is top-of-the-mind for Clooney, maybe we ought to take an interest in that area too. Now if these stars who earn in mega-dollars per minute, have the time and inclination to focus attention on the plight of people and places they could just as well ignore, what of our homegrown stars whose every move is watched with fervour by the faithful? Well, it would seem that charitainment is not for them.
Buying a cricket team, all the better to rake in the moolah with, is one thing. But getting up close and personal with something as horrific as say, female foeticide, is another. Surely, it wouldn’t hurt our stars to get their hands dirty once in a while and take up a cause where they could make a difference? Now and again, we do have a star jumping on to a fashionable bandwagon like HIV/Aids, but these are usually those whose careers need a bit of intravenous publicity. Still others do take up social causes, but for a price. The megawattage of star power in India is evident from the fact that in every nook and cranny of India, their songs, their actions, their sartorial predilections are copied down to the last T. So, imagine the impact that their words would have on the need to eradicate communicable diseases or social evils. But no, the spirit of public service and philanthropy does not beat in their hearts. A pity, really.