Do Star Celebrities Know What They Promote?
Bollywood diva and heart-throb of millions of fans the' Dhak Dhak' heroine Madhuri Dixit Nene will launch a nationwide campaign to promote breastfeeding in the country today.
In yet another addition to the long list of Bollywood celebrities endorsing social causes,the mother of two,currently a celebrity judge on TV dance shows will launch the MAA (Mother's Absolute Affection) scheme at a five-star hotel in the capital in the presence of J P Nadda, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare and Faggan Singh Kulaste and Anupriya Patel, Ministers of State (Health and Family Welfare). One is not sure how this will help her own career as a heroine on the comeback trail after being away after her marriage. But there it is.
Dixit will be joining the list of celebrities like Vidya Balan who was appointed brand ambassador of the sanitation campaign by Jairam Ramesh, Union minister for environment in the UPA II but continues to tell rural women 'Jahan hai soch wahan hai shauch.'
Megastar Amitabh Bachchan whose nose diving fortunes took an upward turn after he started promoting polio drops, having been appointed brand ambassador by the UNICEF continues to be their icon even today and also an ambassador for the Save Tiger campaign. He was also tipped to replace Aamir Khan in the Incredible India campaign but the Indian Express spoilt his plans with some papers mentioning his name!
His daughter-in-law, the gorgeous Aishwarya Rai Bachhan is also a brand ambassador for the anti polio campaign, plus she is also campaigning for eye donation where the track record in India is dismal.
Aamir Khan was unceremoniously dropped from the 'Incredible India' campaign after his intolerance remark amidst high debate on the social media but he continue to be a UNICEF ambassador for Nutrition and Child Rights.
Priyanka Chopra, who is now an international star also happens to be the brand ambassador for child rights and adolescents.
Her sister the gutsy, Parineeti Chopra has been chosen as the brand ambassador for the Prime Minister's Beti Bachao Beti Padhao campaign by the Haryana government.
But being in the public eye is not always a pleasant experience.
Politicians have realised this long time back but film stars have also felt uncomfortable facing the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
Apart from Aamir Khan who had a very nice time during the time of the UPA II, yet another Khan who finds himself hauled over hot-coals is Salman Khan who had received sarcastic comments after being acquitted by courts in the killing of pavement-dwellers in Mumbai and Blackbucks in Rajasthan.
Hence it did not come as a surprise that when his name was declared as the brand ambassador for the Rio Olympics there were howls of protests across the country that his conduct was anything but sporting.
No one spoke about the court judgments of course but sports legends like Milkha Singh started a debate on why a Bollywood celebrity should endorse sports. The sparring went on for a long time as the film fraternity hit back at him for promoting himself through cinema.
Not surprisingly, the dream girl of Bollywood Hema Malini, who is a BJP MP, routed for Salman Khan saying that he would be able to inspire the Indian contingent as he was a very popular star in India. Which is true of course.
On the other hand, baba Ramdev who has become the most visible face on TV because of his advertisements promoting Patanjali products on every news Chanel was made brand ambassador of the Haryana government led by ML Khattar and has been given a ministerial status.This news has not been denied so far.
Unfortunately like most issues the question of brand ambassador turns into a political slug-fest in India.
So far the social and commercial endorsements of stars were separate and commercial establishments did not toe the government line or ideology ever though they like to be on the right side of the ruling dispensation, if their product was selling well because of the celebrity whether from cinema or sports.
But the recent statement by none other than the Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar that they had asked Flipkart to start a campaign against Aamir Khan after his intolerance remark has blurred the divining line somewhat.
Having failed to stop infiltration at the borders where Indian jawans are being killed every day and the Pathankot fiasco, Parikkar had to prove his utility and Aamir Khan was a sitting duck for target practice.
Unlike Aamir Khan some celebrities like MS Dhoni, the brand ambassador of a builder company themselves volunteered to walk out of a contract endorsing their products after he was tagged by harassed clients who were not getting flats on time.
But no one is seriously asking questions whether these highly paid and glamorised brand ambassadors really understand the causes they are expected to endorse.Do they have time to go deep into the subject to be able to take a stand when needed?
For instance,the three ambassadors of child rights in the above list have maintained an absolute silence on the crucial Child Labour Bill that was recently passed by the Rajya Sabha without even a debate unlike the GST bill which was debated threadbare.
As NGOs for child rights who woke up from their slumber after the bill had been passed are now crying out, this bill would put shackles in the growth of children because it permits child labour if the child is employed in family enterprises.
This exception would be used by parents themselves to push their children into child labour and even bonded labour because most of the rural work places are unorganised and there is no way to find out if it is a family enterprise.
If the celebrities had spoken out on time on these issues affecting the future generations of the country maybe their voice would have made a difference.But unfortunately this had not happened.