In the last couple of days, my feed is inundated with posts questioning the moral legitimacy of celebrity orchestrated campaigns. “Instead of asking for donations, it would be better if you guys can show some kindness and donate with an open heart,” says retired IAS officer Surya Pratap.
Another post doing the rounds echoes: ‘I have 1000 Mars bars in my fridge and my mate has 1. I pressured him into giving his to a homeless person. This is how celeb charity appeals work’ (ouch). A part of me in awe of the mighty income and resources of the people at concern nodded firmly, almost enviously. The other part is making me write this. Before beginning our discussion it’s important to lay certain variables bare. If media reports flashing the net worth of various celebrities, business tycoons and cricketers are to be believed, we have our answer right there.
Only if we possessed our very own regional Viral Bhayani, as committed and obsessed with our MLA’s and MP’s OOTD(Outfit of the day for my plain folks. I see you!), OOTD’s worth, annual salary and brand endorsements, bungalows and vehicles, this list of haves could’ve been more khadesque and vocal for local… Anyway, moving on to our have-nots, who require no introduction and description! May we know them, never raise them and never ever aspire to be them(middle-class parent’s Gayatri mantra). The last but the most significant question central to our discussion here is: who are the ones claiming to be our generous Robinhood Pandey$, tweeting and granting the dubiousness of celebrity-charity drives?
In 2016 during the Demonetization it was the middle class who was the most ecstatic and enthusiastic, almost tripping upon this opportunity to witness the blueberry-black money gang suffer. The Josh was unprecedentedly high amongst the people even while they stood in the scorching heat. I came across an interesting story, characterizing the middle class’s response to wealth and affluence in India in two ways: First they say-is denial and dismissal. For instance- their response to a woman decked in a diamond necklace would be: ‘Must be American dialogue, this must be real. Second is pure contempt i.e. – What is insufficient about this? These sentiments are in full swing throughout the aspirational class. The only novelty is that these Sharma uncles and his offspring now enjoy uninterrupted access to the Internet and a smartphone.
The question which emerges is: how can we, the aspirational class- direct, shame and disgrace our blueberries for not spending their own hard-earned money the way we deem worthy? Last weeks have seen millions of Indians trapped in infected gas Chambers, being purged anonymously and collectively for reasons beyond the scope of this essay. Can we coerce that 1% of our population controlling the majority of our resources to forfeit our rightful yet ambiguous share(I’m still weak in logistics and mathematics of that)? Even when it has been almost impossible for the aspirational class themselves to surrender to their own daughters their uncomplicated rightful inheritance?
The middle class donning pristine-popish-humanist robes, righteous enough to command the blueberries to consciously forfeit their money is a bit unsettling. These people are responsible for our entertainment whether through content or through cricket, that’s it. You can demand why some boy$$ are obscenely overpaid for playing bat and ball while MNREGA employees/daily wage labourers/research scholars/ other sportspersons are grossly underpaid but this is for some other time. You can demand why some businessmen control most of the world’s resources(analyzing Melinda gates divorce alimony really doesn’t count. Also, that’s sexist. It’s okay, one step at a time).
But for that you’ll have to question capitalism, believe in equality and equity and learn to not be casteist (Remember, the first step, the toddler step?). Getting angry, gassy bowels with a reservation diet wouldn’t do either. You’ll additionally be required to not dismiss people who believe in striving for the same as ‘communists’.
I understand these qualifications are mind-numbingly challenging for the middle class. Honestly speaking, who wouldn’t like to be them-the blueberries, to have as much bank balance as these? If I had the resources, I would’ve flown to London with my whole family, in a chartered plane and tried my best to escape the devastation and cremation and then raised a fundraiser virtually. I would’ve been gleefully positive with my Irish whisky and a copy of ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’ instead of a warm lemon – Kada, an almost non-functional taste bud and a copy of positive RT PCR.
But, here I am in the midst of a traumatized nation, desperately warding off my parents’ anxious nerves, concealing disturbing visuals and information for their mental well being; responding to the calls of friends, the family who are equally overwhelmed by the deaths of their near/dear ones and therefore more willing to release these horrors with theatrical precision and detail. Additionally, surviving the clinical-maniacal phase 1 trial of our Atma Nirbhar indigenous Whatsapp laboratory-like inhaling smoke, administering lemon drops to my nose(do not recommend this) etc. has been a rare limited rendition of positivity unlimited!