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Get people who count

Two principles of good health are "to hit the iron when it is hot" and "involve the people who count", says Dr KK Aggarwal.

india Updated: Feb 28, 2006 20:19 IST

Two basic principles of health education are "to hit the iron when it is hot"and "involve the people who count". The first principle talks about the right action at the right time. There is no point giving cholesterol awareness to a pregnant lady or teaching a female heart attack victim about antenatal care.

The second principle is even more important i.e. 'to involve the people, to whom public will listen to'. Involvement of religious leaders, politicians, bureaucrats, sports personalities, film stars, doctors, teachers, etc. has been one of the main approach in creating health awareness about various subjects. Today in the advertisement industry celebrity endorsement is seen to a great extent. Most film stars have taken over the job of models of earlier times.

Amitabh Bachchan's second innings started with more of TV advertisements. When he first appeared in an advertisement for BPL, many people wondered what is the role of a celebrity in an advertisement.

The principle of celebrity endorsement is talked in great detail in vedic literature. The best description comes from Bhagwad Gita where Lord Krishna tells Arjuna in Chapter 3.21 that:

yad yad acarati sresthas
tad tad evetaro janah
say at pramanam kurute
lokas tad anuvartate

Krishna says that whatever great men do, others follow and whatever standards are set by a leader, the whole world follow the same standards. Therefore, he asks Arjuna to become the leader and not a follower.

In creating awareness whether through PR, advertisement or marketing, this principle is a gold standard. I can recall hundreds of instances, when I (cardiologist) attend social dinners most times I see that people are watching me. They want to know what I am eating and assume whatever I am eating is heart friendly, as they do not want to believe that a cardiologist can be eating a non-heart friendly diet. For becoming a celebrity one has to pay this price. Whatever they do in their public life affects the masses.

The difference between a leader and a follower is that the leader is balanced in situations of both gain and loss, and there is no difference in his speech and actions. Those leaders who have no difference in their thinking, actions and speech become super leaders or gurus. Others remain simple leaders.

Dr. Aggarwal is President, Heart Care Foundation of India; President, Delhi Medical Association; Sr. Consultant, Moolchand Medcity; Member, Delhi Medical Council.