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Tag: Identity Crisis

On Celebrity Social Responsibility

The do’s and dont’s of a citizen’s action list can fall in two categories – what she must do and what she should do. The ‘must’ is largely related to legal duties such as paying taxes, abiding to civil and criminal laws, following traffic rules, respecting the liberty of fellow citizens, and so on. The ’should’ list includes what a citizen does beyond the ‘must’ list.

The ‘must’ list appears very important because we, the Indians, mostly donot understand the difference between freedom and liberty, and also rights vs duties and what others should do vs what we should do. We are very intelligent and rational as individuals but pathetic while collaborating and cooperating. If each of Indians only take care of this ‘must’ list, the country will change and see its pinnacles. The interesting part is that the ‘must’ list doesnt require us to sacrifice much of our resources, money, or time. This is a part of the daily life chores and only ’self regulation’ can make this possible.

The ’should’ list is optional, depending on one’s own choice or discretion – by not doing which one’s not legally or morally wrong/irresponsible. This list is not even required to discussed if everybody is self-regulated and takes care of ‘must’ list for oneself. This list is being discussed only because ‘must’ list is ignored by one part of the inhibitants and the apathy of those who sould have taken care of the ‘must’ list. And thats where the celebrities, corporate, or somehow privilaged section of citizens come into the picture.

A celebrity can be anybody because, according to me, a celebrity is a person who has ‘an area of influence”. A common man can influence herself, however a celebrity can influence a group of people. The larger the area (of influence), the bigger the stature of the celebrity. When a common man starts this mission (in the form of social or political activism), she has to first work towards increasing her reach and the area of influence. A celebrity gets this by default, so, when a celebrity enters in the arena of activism, she starts with the immediate action. And when a bigger celebrity comes in picture, she can immediately make many people acting on that task. So, the celebrity stature gives a person an edge, which is mostly the power to influence and width of her reach.

I think this is the reason people raise their heads towards celebrities. But that doesn’t mean a celebrity must do it, definitely not. In this sense, everybody fall in the same pool, hence it is pretty senseless to criticize a celebrity (or for that matter, anybody) if she doesn’t do it. If she takes care of the ‘must’ list, doesn’t influence others to go against it using her reach, she is already a responsible citizen. What more, she is an excellent professional which is already somehow contributing to the development of the country. If somebody leaves her profession (no matters how lucrative or profitable it is), then it is way too great; if she doesn’t, it is still great. We founded one such organization called ‘Dream India Project’ two years before and during last 2 years, much more people joined DIP and involved in debates and activities. Most of us are excellent professionals and are contributing to our professions very well. I am running my own company and when I spend my time, effort, and money with DIP, it is totally my choice and interest. Same goes with fellow DIPians. Even if we don’t do this, we are responsible citizens and contributing to the development of the country with our works in our professions (and this is already beyond the ‘must’ list). Cribs never help, acts do. And I have found that most of the cribs and complains come from those who don’t act. I feel very great that these kinds of topic are being discussed very widely nowadays.

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A Confidence Issue

Arcelor’s Guy Dolle may have puckered up his nose at the thought of being taken over by a company that was “full of Indians“, but the fact remains that Mittal Steel, despite its name and the passport of its promoter, is not an Indian company. It is as European as an ABB, a Renault, or a Nokia. Yet, its successful bid for Arcelor is being treated by most Indians as a victory for the country. Granted that LN Mittal is still an Indian citizen, but it must also be borne in mind that his investments in India till date are insignificant (and lower than, say, IBM’s or Cisco’s). So how does one explain the media frenzy and public interest in this deal? For that matter, why do we, as a nation, spend so much time following the careers and achievements of people like M. Night Shyamalan, Amartya Sen, Sabeer Bhatia or Gurunder Chaddha, all people of Indian origin, who have achieved success in the West. In fact, we extend this frenzy even to David Beckham’s Hindi tattoo and to Uma and Maya Thurman’s Indian first names.

We now have enough home-grown heroes in almost every field of human endeavour, but in the popular psyche, success in and recognition from the West – even on a relatively modest scale – counts for as much if not more than achievements at home. This points to a crucial flaw in our national character: a lack of self confidence. The roots of this can, perhaps, be traced back to the racist and Eurocentric education system imposed on India by Thomas Babington Macaulay in the 1830s, much of which remains unreformed till this day.

But things are slowly changing. The process of economic reforms has led to unprecedented social churning. Non-metropolitan India, long derisively dismissed as PLT (People Like Them) by the Wogs, is now aggressively claiming its place under the Indian sun. Just look around: small towns, and even villages, are throwing up new superachievers everyday. India is slowly, and in spite of herself, waking up to her true potential. Once this process gathers critical mass – and the logic of empowerment underlying reforms will ensure that it will do so in a few years – we will, as a nation, be able to place foreign and domestic achievements in perspective and do justice to our home-grown heroes as well. Meanwhile, there’s no harm in celebrating Mittal’s consolidation of his position at the top of the global steel industry.

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